5 uses for brown paper bags

“Paper Bag Kite” felt-tip pen & tempera on brown paper bag

Last night I picked-up Chinese take-out and as I was folding that brown paper bag and putting with the others on top of my fridge it occurred to me that this was a tradition.  Whenever I bring home a brown paper shopping bag (which is not that often anymore) I always refold it flat and save it.  I don’t really give it much thought.  It is what my mother did.  She had lots of re-uses for those bags.  I can remember her tearing open a brown bag and peeling potatoes over it to contain the flying skins.  One birthday she made an amazing piñata out of one.  I can also vividly remember my sister and me covering our text books at the beginning of each school year.  There are less paper bags around these days but they seem to still enter the house on occasion and always get reused.  Here are a handful of reuses I think are worth sharing.

5 clever uses for brown paper bags…

  1. Thanksgiving turkey cooking hood: Open up a large bag, cut to size, coat with oil, and drape over turkey while cooking to keep turkey from burning or getting too dry on top (make sure to NOT use recycled bag for this use).
  2. Homemade microwave popcorn: Quit paying to chemicals!  Put ¼ cup kernels in a small or medium brown bag, fold over top a few times and microwave.  Once popped, add melted butter and salt close up again and shake to combine.
  3. Neutral color, medium weight art paper: You can use your imagination with this one or get inspired by children’s book author/poet/artist Douglas Florian.  The illustrations in his book Mammalabilia are all painted on brown paper bags!
  4. Paper bag kite: Make 4 reinforced puncture holes at the corners of the bag opening.  Loop 2 lengths of string through holes to support all 4 corners then neck down to one string for a handle.  To finish, decorate bag and add streamers.
  5. Flooring, really!  Have a floor in your home in need of a cheap make-over?  I saw this one in Yankee magazine and thought it was so cool.  Cover clean smooth sub-floor with layers of brown paper and Elmer’s glue then seal with polyurethane.

I hope something here inspires you and please comment if you want to add any clever, practical, or fun ideas for reusing brown paper bags to the list!


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! doodlesandjots@hotmail.com. If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. I wouldn’t have thought of using paper bags for any of those things! I like the picture of the paper bag kite!!
    I just use my paper bags to hold all my recyclables and then I take them to be recycled, that way I don’t use anything fancy for recycling, so I guess paper bags are my recycling bins, so to speak lol

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