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Paper Craft Gift Bag: A Simple 15-minute Craft Idea

As I was thinking back on the day, I was startled to realize that it has been almost 10 years since it happened.  Life is full of slow days and fast years, isn’t it.  Anyway, a friend and her kids dropped by unexpectedly, handing me a basket of goodies.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m always happy to receive baskets brimmed with sugary treats, but I was still thrown off by the gesture.  “Happy May Day!” the kids exclaimed as they raced inside to play with my kids.  She must have seen the confusion on my face.  “Haven’t you ever heard of May Day?”  Little did I know that I was about to add another holiday to my yearly celebrations.

Although she didn’t whip out her phone and google the exact history for me, she did have a wide knowledge base to share.  Because I am home, with easy access to loads of information, I’ll share a bit of history trivia for those of you that, like me, have never heard of May Day.  There is a feast of knowledge to be learned, this is just a nibble.

*The earliest May Day celebrations appeared with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held on April 27 during the Roman Republic era, and with the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the GaelicBeltane, most commonly held on April 30. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer.

*May Day was also celebrated by some early European settlers of the American continent. In some parts of the United States, May baskets are made. These are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away.

*Modern May Day ceremonies in the U.S. vary greatly from region to region and many unite both the holiday’s “Green Root” (pagan) and “Red Root” (labour) traditions.  In some communities, hanging a May basket on someone’s door was a chance to express romantic interest. If a basket-hanger was espied by the recipient, the recipient would give chase and try to steal a kiss from the basket-hanger. {Source}

*In Dunkirk, N.Y., the Evening Observer observed on April 30, 1932, that young people were collecting samples from wallpaper dealers and “creating baskets of all sorts and varieties as to size, shape, and color, and will hang them on the doors of their friends at dusk on May Day.”

*A reporter in the Sterling, Ill., Gazette in 1871 explained the seasonal ritual this way: “A May-basket is — well, I hardly know how to describe it; but ’tis something to be hung on a door. Made of paper generally, it contains almost anything, by way of small presents you have in mind to put in it, together with your respects, best wishes — love, perhaps. It is hung after dark at the door of anybody the hanger fancies. — Which done, the said hanger knocks and scampers.”

The writer went on to say, in the spirit of the times, that if a boy hangs a May basket on a girl’s door and the girl catches him, “it’s a great disgrace.” If a girl is the hanger, “it disgraces the boy again not to catch her.” {Source}

As I listened to my friend, I was struck with the thought, “How is it that I am 26 years old, married with four kids, and have never heard of this day?!”  Seriously, it combines two of my favorite things: Goodies and Ninja Stealth Training!  I’m not certain, but maybe the “May Day ceremonies in the U.S. vary greatly from region to region” trivia may be pertinent– I’d grown up in the West, she in the East.  At any rate, I was convinced this would be a fun tradition for our family.  Here is a basket we have made for years.  It is SO easy, taking less than 15-minutes.  Here’s what you’ll need.


  • Paper cutter, with a cutting blade and a Scorer.
  • 6″x 6″ craft paper
  • Brads
  • Double-sided glue strips
  • Glue pen
  • Hole Punch
  • Scissors
  • Gift tags
  • Floral embellishments, if you choose
  • Baker’s Twine*


Because I will be showing you two different styles of “basket,” one that is more of a “bag,” the other more of a “tote,” I will be using two sheets of paper, interchanging the handles to give character.  If both sides of your craft paper are decorative, one sheet of paper is all you’ll need for either bag.  I chose a paper that isn’t too distracting in both color and design for the tutorial, so you’ll soon see why I chose to interchange the handles.  Normally, however, only one 6″x 6″ sheet is needed, without a bit of waste!

Score one edge of your paper just one tick shy of the 1/2″ mark (6/16th inch).  If you do not have a Score blade, ever-so gently scratch your cutter blade across the page, no pressure whatsoever, barely scratching the surface of your paper.  The slightest scratch on the paper is meant only for ease of folding along perfect lines later.

With the scored line, reposition the paper by sliding it to the right to the 3/4″ line.  Cut.  Repeat this step once more, along the cut edge, to make two equal strips.

Do you see the score line?  Barely a scratch down the center of your two handle strips.  Set these aside for later.


Because you have now cut 1.5″ from one side, your paper now measures 6″ x 4.5″.  Making sure to recognize the orientation of your paper, fold the paper in half, with the crease down the center of the longer of the sides.  The center fold will become the center of the bottom of you bag.I have taken a picture with the right side of the center fold already Scored for easier understanding of this step.  Position the center crease at the 6/16th tick, making sure that your paper is straight. Score down the length.  With one side Scored, flip the paper around, and repeat the process again.  This will Score the bottom of your bag evenly on either side of the center crease. Fold the Scores.With your scissors, cut a small slit, maybe 1/4″ on each Score and crease line, on both sides of your paper.Flip your paper over and fold in the two cutouts on each side.Run the double-sided tap along one edge of your paper. Snip off the excess.

Remove the protective layer from the sticky side of the tape.

With the center cutouts folded in and tucked safely inside, adjust the top edge of one side to the top edge of the other, making sure to cover the glue strip.  Position the edge of the side along the edge of the glue strip all the way down the side.  Repeat those steps on the other side.

Your “tote” bag is taking shape now!

Looking inside, you’ll notice the two cutouts are still pressed down.

Using your glue pen (or any glue of your choosing), secure the cutouts to the inside of the bag, sealing off the opening.

You’re now ready for handles.

Positioning the top edge of both sides inside your hole punch, punch two holes equal distance from one another for your handles.

Fold your Scored strips in half.

Punch a hole in either end.  Run the strips through your fingers, giving it a slightly curved rounding.

With your gift tag ready, you’re going to add it now.

If you would like to add embellishments, you could.

Fill the inside with a goodie of your choosing, and prepare yourself for Ninja Stealth Training.

The May Day Basket is meant to be hung from the door.  Our door does not have a proper handle, so if you’d like to keep to tradition, this is where the Baker’s Twine would come into play.  For picture purposes, I simply left it on the door step.  And you better believe I would have worn my “zoom shoes” and ran like lightening.


Many of the steps are going to be exactly like the other, with a change that could be added to either style basket.

With the center crease down the shorter of the two sides, follow the other steps to this point.  With one edge of the paper at the 6/16th tick, Score down the length of both sides.

That Score will give you a decorative fold inside of your bag.  You could use a strip of double-sided tape to hold down the decorative fold, but I have never needed to.  With the Score and the brads used for the handles, the flap has never come up.  Again, it’s up to you whether you add that securing step.

With the rest of the steps much the same.

Not just for May Day, these Paper Craft Gift Bags would be perfect for Mother’s Day, Teacher Appreciation, Birthdays, Thank You, or a simple, Thinking of You.  They are so easy, kids 8+ could make them with adult supervision and instruction, no problem.

Who wouldn’t love to get a surprise this adorable?!


What about you?  Do you have ideas for recipients?  Planning on any Ninja Stealth Training?  Not to worry, you got time.  May is still 4 days away…

My goodness– Time is flying by!  Happy May Day, friends!


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