Fall Garland From Paper Bags

3 Materials
2 Hours

Hey friend, if you're shocked by the price of some of the nicer fall garlands, why not craft one from paper bags? It's relatively easy, super cheap and will last for years! I'm going to show you how. You might have seen the Copper Magnolia Wreath I crafted from paper bags - that one turned out so well that I decided to make a garland.

After thinking through how I was going to accomplish a fall garland with paper lunch sack leaves, I decided to use an inexpensive magnolia garland as a base and wire the leaves to the existing garland.

But I'm getting ahead of myself! Let's start at the very beginning, shall we?

Supplies for a paper bag leaf garland:

  • brown lunch bags (approx 11-14)
  • scissors
  • acrylic paints in fall colors (optional)
  • small foam roller
  • paper plate
  • clear and dark furniture paste wax (optional)
  • craft paddle wire
  • magnolia or eucalyptus garland for base
  • leaf template (grab it for free at diybeautify.com!)
  • cardboard
  • pencil

I know this list looks long and daunting, but I'm sharing several ways you can save time with this project!

If you love crafting then you may want to follow all the steps but if you need to make this fall garland quickly, please omit one or two of the steps below that I'll mark as optional.


Cut open those paper lunch sacks so you have a nice flat sheet to work with.


Trace and cut the leaf template* from cardboard, trace onto paper bag and cut out oak leaves. Doing this step now will give you the most realistic looking leaves but it is more time consuming.

Optional - If you need to save time, don't cut the leaves out yet!

*you'll find the FREE LEAF TEMPLATE on my blog, post linked below


Squirt some brown, green and orange craft paint onto a paper plate and water it down. Use the roller to paint broad strokes over the leaves and set them aside to dry. The edges will curl as they dry, giving a very realistic leaf look!

Optional - IF YOU DIDN'T cut the leaves out yet, paint directly onto the sheets of brown paper and set the whole sheets aside to dry. Once dry, you will proceed to trace and cut out the leaves.

My homemade leaf template is 7" tall x 6" wide, so these are big leaves! I was able to get 5 leaves from each sheet of paper (lunch sack)*


Here's a fun little comparison of my DIY lunch sack leaves vs the real thing! I think I nailed it!

NOTE: you can skip the paint altogether if you want, just know that your leaves won't look as realistic! If you want more detailed instructions for painting the leaves, visit my blog


Now that you've got all your leaves cut out, WAX THEM!

This is another optional step but I highly recommend it if you're looking to create a high end fall garland that looks realistic!

Waxing the leaves is really easy. Just use a lint-free rag (I use part of an old white t-shirt), and rub a little clear wax on a leaf, then immediately brush a little dark wax on. I used a small craft brush for the dark wax and just dabbed it on in small areas. I didn't bother buffing, just kept my wax coat light.

This photo progression shows you just how amazing the leaves look when they're painted and waxed! I found some leaves outside and compared them to my DIY paper bag leaves, and I honestly couldn't tell the difference!


Once the wax is dry (I allowed it to dry overnight), you can crease the center of the leaves simply by folding them in half and running your fingernail along the fold about 2/3 of the way up. You can do this before or after you paint and wax the leaves. 

The next step is where this beautiful and inexpensive fall garland comes together!


Attaching the paper leaves to the magnolia garland was super easy. I used green craft wire and wound a little bit around one of the paper leaves to get started, then wrapped it tightly around one end of the magnolia garland two times. 

Designer tip: I didn't cut the wire until I was finished attaching all the leaves to the base garland.

I worked in batches of 1 or 2 leaves and tied them onto the garland all the way across. It ended up working out perfectly! I had around 50 leaves total and used every last one! You do want to remember that the leaves are paper, so be gentle as you're wiring them to the garland. It was a little tricky to work around the magnolia leaves on the garland, I kept my wire short (wrapped around paddle), and just maneuvered it over and under as needed.

I love how full and beautiful this inexpensive fall garland is!

I would love to know if you give this a try - let me know in the comments!

FINALLY, I am a blogger, and the full, written instructions as well as the FREE LEAF TEMPLATE are available for you to view at my blog, linked below!

Happy Crafting!

Resources for this project:
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