Welcome to Gift Bags 101

September 01, 2022 4 min read

Welcome to Gift Bags 101

Gift bags are an incredibly popular way to conceal a gift, and also have become more decorative and elaborate than ever before. Plus, they make for the perfect way to present a gift that has an awkward shape, or would require too much wrapping paper to properly wrap in an attractive way. Let’s share everything that there is to know about gift bags.

When Were Gift Bags Invented?

The gift bags that we use today were invented in 1987 – just 35 years ago – by Hallmark, the same company that invented modern wrapping paper exactly 70 years prior. Gift bags have become so synonymous with gift-giving that it’s hard to believe that they haven’t actually been around that long.  

What Kinds of Gift Bags are There?

Over the years, gift bags have grown in popularity as an equally suitable alternative to wrapping paper. Now, you can find a wider array of gift bags to choose from than ever before, with all kinds of variations that need to be considered.

#1: Size and Shape 

The most important thing to consider when choosing a gift bag is its size, to make sure that it’s large enough to fit the gift, but not so large that it doesn’t reflect the size of the gift itself. It’s good to have the measurements of the gift in mind when choosing a size to avoid running into these issues.  

Besides different sizes, you can find different shapes. For instance, some gift bags are longer than they are wide, and vice versa. Some are squares, and some are long and skinny, meant for wine bottles in particular.  

#2: Design

A gift bag’s design should reflect the recipient and/or the occasion. In other words, you don’t want to give someone a Christmas-themed gift bag on their birthday in June, nor do you want to give a gift bag that has a pattern that totally goes against the recipient’s personal style. Luckily, you can find countless gift bag designs out there to find one that’s absolutely suitable for the gift itself.

#3: Material

Gift bags are technically paper products, although the majority of them use synthetics like polyethylene and other plastic-derived laminates to give them that signature glossy look. You can actually find various gift bag materials, however, including both natural and synthetic, with various finishes like glossy, matte and metallic. Plus, fabric gift bags are becoming increasingly popular due to their rustic appeal that matches the current trends in design.

#4: Closure

By far, most gift bags are open bags with two handles, usually made from twisted rope. But, you can also find bags that close through a drawstring, and ones that are fastened at the top through a tie, a snap or a button. Gift bag manufacturers have been getting more creative lately to offer plenty of visually interesting alternatives to what we consider to be a standard gift bag.

Are Gift Bags as Popular as Wrapping Paper?

You may be surprised to learn that since the early 2000s, gift bags and wrapping paper have been neck-in-neck in terms of their popularity. In fact, 2002 was the first year that gift bags overtook wrapping paper in terms of sales. It’s easy to understand why – they’re much easier to use, since they don’t require actual wrapping or folding of any kind. And, they’re great for last minute gift-shopping, when you have to grab a gift on the way to an event, and don’t have the time or space to actually wrap the gift before presenting it to the recipient. Another advantage is that gift bags are great for awkwardly shaped gifts, like balls and asymmetrical gifts that are hard to wrap in wrapping paper.

What Do You Need to Present a Gift in a Gift Bag?

Besides the gift bag itself, you’re going to want some accessories to go along with it, since just throwing an item in a bag comes with limited visual appeal. Tissue paper is a must, as it conceals the gift until the recipient is ready to open it, while filling out the bag to give it a “stuffed appearance” and adding more visual interest. People also like to embellish gift bags with bows, ribbons, and all kinds of fun accessories, usually tied around the gift bag’s handles. It’s also customary to include a card in the gift bag – at the very least, so that the recipient knows that it was you who purchased the gift.

How Much Weight Can a Gift Bag Hold?

That’s a great question, and it depends entirely on the bag itself. Some bags have bases that are reinforced with cardboard, specifically to handle the weight of heavier gifts. It mostly has to do with the material of the bag, as some bags are lighter in weight than others. Take into account how heavy your gift is before choosing a gift bag.

Are Gift Bags Environmentally Friendly?

Most gift bags are, surprisingly, nonrecyclable, and unsustainable in terms of how they’re produced. Like we said, many gift bags are made from synthetic materials that don’t actually break down in the way that pure paper does, meaning that they add to the ever-growing waste on our planet. However, there has been a recent push for sustainable, recyclable, and biodegradable gift bags that don’t have any negative effect on the environment.

Waterleaf Paper Has Your Gift Bag Needs Covered!

At Waterleaf Paper, you will find a wide array of beautifully decorative gift bags in various designs, sizes and more to cover all of your gift-giving needs this year. Not to mention, tissue paper, ribbon, and other must-have accessories. Best of all, we strictly produce recyclable, sustainable, and eco-friendly gift bags that are made strictly from biodegradable materials, so that you can feel good about your impact on the environment while you enjoy your holidays.

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