Sunday, December 18, 2016

Paper Bag Gingerbread Houses!

I love gingerbread houses. Growing up I'd spend a few hours each Christmas season decorating one with my elderly neighbor, and I loved it. It's a tradition I've continued with my children. 

My daughter has a December birthday, pretty close to Christmas, and it's not always easy to find something to do. We don't always have snow for playing, and we live in a pretty rural area. For the last few years Clare has invited folks over to decorate real gingerbread houses, but this year she opted for an ice skating party. To tie into the old tradition she and I teamed together to make these super cute goody bags for party peeps! 

Not only is this a season full of sentimental traditions and birthday celebrations; nope. It's also germ season! Can I get a big "UGH!"?! As elementary art teachers my husband and I are exposed to germs all day, and so are our children. My daughter brought home the flu in the middle of this week, and she shared it with her brother, with me, and with our elf, Mr. Bo Jingles. 

My son felt better and went back to school, but Clare had a fever, and I was feeling pretty lousy, so we stayed home. Friday afternoon she got a little squirrelly, obviously needing an outlet for her restored energy, so I set her to work painting paper bags to look like gingerbread houses as I rested nearby. 

We turned her little couch "sick bed" into a mini studio space. 

While watching Christmas movies, she used my piano bench as a desk and got to work!

They're fast and simple to make, cost next to nothing, and are super adorable! To make one yourself, you'll need:
  • brown paper lunch bags
  • brown construction paper
  • scissors
  • a pencil/eraser
  • acrylic craft paints and a plate or bit of cardboard to squirt them on
  • paintbrushes
  • a water dish 
  • a folded paper towel (to wipe and dry your brush on)
  • something to stuff inside the bag (we used little prizes as gifts, but you could use balled up newspaper)
  • a stapler
  • tape (regular or masking, as long as it sticks it doesn't really matter!)
  • GLITTER (if you're feeling festive and brave)
Let's get started!

I held the lunch bag on top of my construction paper and cut up the paper, leaving exposed construction paper on both sides of the bag. I wanted a bit of an overhang for the roof, and this oughta do it. Sorry it's not exact. You can measure it if you really want to! I just really like wingin it when I'm figuring stuff out. 

That's way too much for a roof, so I folded it in half and had enough to make 2! 

Cut along the fold line (this would all be much faster and accurate with a paper cutter, but we were sick girls at home with nothing but scissors, so.....yeah, we did it the old fashioned way). 

Fold your roof paper in half and set it aside! You're ready for the next big step! My son wants to be a photographer and is learning about focusing. My apologies for the blurred images! Artist in training!

Use a pencil to draw your design. Pencils are great, especially mechanical ones. I love them. If you mess up you can erase it like it never happened, just draw lightly at first. 

I wanted the houses to be short, quaint, adorable, and none of the items that were going inside were large, so when drawing designs I made sure the top of the door stopped at the main fold along the bottom part of the bag. I added a few decorative doodly bits just above that for fancy whimsy. Keep it simple, especially if little ones are helping.

Paint it any way you like! We improvised a bunch! I gave my daughter mostly seasonal holiday colors, but she enjoyed mixing up her own, excitedly telling me all about each new color creation. She made each bag different for each of her pals. 

Before it dries, add some ultra fine glitter! It makes everything look sugary, like a real gingerbread house, and adds some magical whimsy. I'm all about whimsy. And glitter. Lots of glitter! 

Set it aside to dry. You don't want this paint on your clothes, it'll never come out. While you're waiting for the bag to dry you can paint another bag, go whip up a real gingerbread house, or play in the snow. Just don't do chores, it'll ruin your mood for happy holiday stuff. There'll be plenty of time for that kinda thing later. 

When it's finally dry, it's time to stuff it! If you're putting tiny gifts inside, have them ready to go. For this example we used newspaper. It wasn't as heavy as the tiny gifts for the goody bags so the shape wasn't as nice, but it'll do!

It doesn't really matter how many times you fold it down, just make sure the edges along the bottom "house" part of the bag are structurally sound. If they're squished or dented, tidy it up. 

This is folded down twice! Three times would work too! You're going to staple through it later, so don't go too crazy with the folding. 

Find your folded roof paper from earlier and place it over the fold of your bag. 

Hold it in place, making sure that the fold of your bag is tucked securely inside the fold of the roof. 

Staple the roof to your folded bag! Once on each side should do!

If the contents of the bag don't allow your roof to lay nicely just make a couple of tape donuts to hold it down. 

Almost finished! Just a little more painting and glitter to go!

Paint the roof! Make it fancy! I ran out of white paint so I opted for an icy light blue.  

We sprinkled the ultra fine glitter from earlier on the main part of the roof and added extra big glitter to the very top. Look at that shimmer and shine!

Let the roof dry and you're finished! It's really that easy! My husband is a font drawing master, so he wrote out the names of the party kids on the backs of the bags with a broad line crayola marker. Since the front is what you want folks to see I'm not worried about painting the back or doing anything more with it, but feel free to fancy it up! Share your ideas, I'm always looking for ways to change things up!


Aunt Carole said... awesome you are.....i didn,t know about your site...I LOVE IT. Too bad i didn,t see this project earlier as I would have had a painting day with my grandsons for this one,......keep projects coming..i will ck your site,and miss you terribly !!!!!!!

ashcanworks said...

Clare and I had a great time making these! You're so creative, I'd love to see your version of these!
This has been a fun adventure for me, and I'm glad you enjoyed it! I LOVE and miss you right back!!!!!