ashley englishsmall measures

small measures with ashley: calendar gift bags

by Ashley

I’ve kept calendars and day planners for the last 14 years. As an order-craving person, my calendars and planners keep me on task, on time and on schedule. Bills are paid, writing deadlines are met, doctor’s appointments are kept and the dogs get taken in for their annual, all on account of my fastidious devotion to chronicling what’s ahead. A quick glance at my calendar tells me when the moon will be full, what crops to plant at what time and all of the holidays in store each month. In the interest of full disclosure, I also used it to successfully become a mom, but that’s a whole other story . . .

While it’s entirely possible these days to rely exclusively on digital, online calendars, I still prefer mine served up old school, complete with theme (“Wild Mushrooms”? Check. “The Fairest Fowl“? Naturally. “The Wisdom of Trees“? Got it.) and attendant captivating imagery. When it’s time to purchase the new year’s calendar or planner, I typically recycle the previous one (or use it as gift wrap). Recently though, my husband and I, in our constant attempts to “reuse” instead of simply recycle, devised another way to revitalize our outdated copies. For today’s Small Measures with Ashley, I’m offering up DIY gift bags fashioned from the pages of your spent calendars. Easier than you can imagine, these gift bags are an ideal means of keeping the good times (and time-keeping) going. — Ashley

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While there’s no hard-and-fast way of going about this, as assembly will be informed by the dimensions of the old calendars you have on hand, here’s a general guide to get you started:

The Goods

  • calendar pages (the stiffer the page, the better)
  • tacks
  • lightweight wooden board
  • cord (to be used for handles; I actually used cord that I cut off of old gift bags that I wasn’t too fond of)
  • glue
  • X-Acto knife
  • scissors
  • hammer
  • ruler
  • hole punch
  • hole-reinforcement stickers

The Deal

1. For the front and back of the bag (the large sides of the bag), cut panels out of calendar pages the height and width that you want your bag to be.

2. Cut a lightweight wooden board 1-inch shorter than the width of the front and back panels (this will be your “floor” panel). The board can be as wide as you like. A 6-inch-wide board works well.

3. Cut the side panels out of additional calendar pages the same width of the board and the same height as the front and back panels.

4. Make a 1/2-inch crease folded away from the image on both sides of the front and back panels.

5. Line up the bottom and top of the front panel with one of the side panels. Glue the side panel inside the crease of the front panel. Do the same for the back panel and remaining side panel. Let the glue set.

6. Place the glued-together front and side panels on the board, lining up with the corner.

7. Hammer a tack in to the corner of the board where the panels overlap (see image). Do the same for the glued-together back and side panels so that they are the same on both sides.

8. Hammer tacks in every inch or two around the bottom.

9. Glue the creases of the unconnected two corners together. Let the glue set.

10. Using a single-hole punch, punch holes in to the front and back panels a few inches apart, about a 1/2-inch below the top of the bag. Place reinforcement stickers over the holes.

11. Thread the holes with cord to make handles of your desired length. Tie knots on the ends of the cord to secure (do this on the interior of the bag).

There you have it. From wall calendar to unique gift bag in a jiffy. Bear in mind that, while not industrial strength (i.e., don’t put barbells in them! Think more lightweight items, such as a garment), these bags are a lovely means of repurposing a material while creating a one-of-a-kind gift.

What about you? Got any calendar-repurposing tricks up your sleeve? I’d love to hear about them.

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  • When we were sorting through hubs’ grandmother’s estate, I found a stack of AAA road maps from 10-15 years ago (not valuable). I’ve been using those as gift wrap. It REALLY looks cute. I’ll have to try the gift bag route, too!

  • yet another lovely DIY project…i’ll make one for me from an old calendar of posters of hollywood classics…that would be perfect for this !! i am really excited!! thanks for the lovely post, Grace…see you on my blog sometime soon!! xx meenal

  • I really love this idea, because then the bag is like a gift in itself! We don’t have any calendars lying around, but I’ll find some way to try this!

  • What a great idea! I used to turn old calendars into envelopes for my letter writing days. I also cut up an old Curious George calendar to make invitations for my daughter’s first birthday party.

  • Fabulous! I buy calendars for the artwork, and have several old ones sitting around because I couldn’t bear to part with the art. Now I know what to do with them!

    I’m thinking I may use cardboard for the bottom of mine.

    For the person gift-wrapping with maps, you can use a compass or Hotwheels car instead of a bow.

  • It looks cute on the outside, but I’d feel odd giving someone a gift bag with my dentist appointments–or fertility cycle!– penned in on the inside.

  • I love this, I always hate throwing out old calendars, the pictures are always so pretty. Thanks for sharing this tip! I bet it would work well to hold household goods/organizers if you can’t bring yourself to give the bags away ;-)

  • i also love calendars, i buy mine for the pictures- ive gone so far as framing my fave pics from calendars! love this idea! thanks for the share x

  • I’m not a big fan of gift-bags, but these are super cute! I especially like the mushroom one (although the recipient, might be a bit curious, what the gift inside is going to be).

  • This is a fantastic idea! I can’t wait to make one. I collect all kinds of calendars, so this will be a great way to re-purpose them.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • I LOVE this Ashley!!

    I’ve been re-using my old calendars as gift wrap forever now, but this project is too clever.

  • I have 50’s postcards my Grandparents bought on their way from California to the east. They are very colorful. The added bright colors of the post cards of that era. What wonderful ideas. I have been using them as birthday cards .. etc.. I love your ideas. Thanks so much.

  • Great idea!
    I noticed that when I use calendars or magazines for gift wrap, I use tons of tape, sort of defeating the purpose. Eco-solution for that, anyone?

  • To Beanie…
    My solution to creative gift wrapping is “think outside the box.” :0) Pun intended!

    Make envelope-type packets. They can be somewhat puffy. Small-ish ones from one page – cut, folded and glued. Even dots of glue work for gift wrapping. Larger envelope packets made from 2 or more pages glued together. Experiment, there are various ways to do this. You can also “stitch” one or both ends of the packet together with ribbon by punching holes spaced apart and threading with the ribbon.

    Attach calendar, maps, etc. to existing boxes, bags, or wrapped gifts. Decorate existing boxes with strips or panels cut to fit and glued on. Box can then be reused by recipient (like these bags by Ashley). Redecorate existing gift bags with collage or cut-to-fit panels. Wrap a box with newsprint, kraft paper, news paper, etc. then decorate and cover it with the maps, calendar pages, etc. Glue works well here.

    Have fun!

  • i love making envelopes from old calendars – they just have the best imagery.

    love the bag idea… not sure i would have thought to put wood and nails in the bottom (but i’m just a glue and tape girl…lol)

  • I love this idea! My family reuses gift bags until they fall apart, “regift-wrapping” I guess you could call it. A calender bag would really change things up!

  • These are great. I’ve used favorite gift bags as “vases” for either dried flowers or hide a smaller vase inside for fresh flowers. Great idea.

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