Ode to the humble paper bag
Paper bags hold a certain charm for me. I’m not sure if it’s because they conjure up sweet memories of trips to the milk bar for a bag of meticulously chosen mixed lollies. Or because they remind me of my dear Dad, who always took his lunch to work in one, then dutifully returned it to the kitchen bench, neatly folded, for re-use the next day. Either way, I really like paper bags, and find them so very handy that I always like to have a supply in the pantry.
- My oldest kids are teenagers and we’ve held our fair share of birthday parties, yet I’ve never bought real party bags – the host would decorate and name paper bags and we’d use those. Likewise, they’re perfect for kids trying to wrap those small fiddly bitsy birthday gifts.
- They're a must for game of shops, a perpetual favourite of my lot. Children enjoy inviting you to choose, then "buy", from a selection of items displayed in bowls (anything from petals, stones and twigs to lego pieces... whatever). They can bag them up for you to take - once you've paid for them of course!
- When my kids were small I’d sometimes use paper bags to help other parents extract their children from playdates at our house, persuading them it was time to go while the teary child insisted they weren’t ready yet, or that ‘the game had only just started’. I’d cheerfully present the child with a paper bag with a few snacks enclosed and the top twisted, and strict instructions not to open up until they were in the car. And off they’d trot, their indignation subdued by the promise of ‘something’ in the paper bag (usually just a few sultanas and bikkies).
- A paper bag can make a great diversion for a long car trip - make a simple kit for each child in a named bag. Pop in a pen or pencil, a little notepad or some folded up sheets of A4 paper, post-it notes, snacks, stickers, small toys, a card game, a map, just about anything to help the time pass.
- Paper bags make great little storage files for all those crafty odds and ends that just simply must be kept – stickers, cards, ribbons, feathers, autumn leaves, sticks, shells and other treasures. They are perfect for storing little homemade card games or flash cards, jigsaw pieces; or pictures cut from magazines, ready for pasting. Pop them into a shoebox to make a mini craft file.
- Send the kids outdoors on atreasure hunt to collect the list of items that you've written on the bag. Great fun at home, in a park, camping, or on a trip. Just tailor the list to suit the day.
And craft… oh here the possibilities are endless. Add some eyes, wear it on your hand (or on a wooden spoon) and it’s a puppet. Fill a bag with scrunched up paper, and shape an animal - draw a beak and eyes in the corner and it’s a chicken. And the piece de résistance… take 7 bags, a gluestick and some scissors to whip up a fabulous paper bag star (see pic and instructions below). Google them, they are a hoot, and made much more special if your children decorate the bags before you begin.
Have fun, it's all in the bag!