TRAASH: Transform Brown Paper Bags Into a Beautiful Fall Wreath

This is the time of year when I enjoy baking apple pie and pumpkin bread and snuggling under the electric blanket with my dog Gabi. I also get so much joy making holiday decorations for my home.

Fall is all about the leaves changing into vibrant reds and oranges, so I decided to decorate my house in those warm colors – browns, reds, and golds. I created a leaf wreath out of brown paper bags to hang on the front door. When I was finished, I realized I wanted something to hang throughout the house, so I created leaf garland using cardboard boxes.

Theses decorations were so easy and fun to make. Both projects involve finding leaf patterns you like online, or collecting leaves from outside to trace as a pattern, and cutting out the shapes. Brown bags and brown cardboard boxes are perfect for this project since they both resemble the color of real autumn leaves. The gold and red paint on the paper bags gives them a beautiful pop of color.

To make the wreath you will need:

  • 2 recycled brown paper bags
  • recycled cardboard box – this will be the base for the wreath
  • paint – I used red and gold
  • leaf patterns
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors
  • sponge

Cut the two paper bags open and lay them on the table with the blank side facing up. Using a small piece of a sponge, dab the paint onto the bags. I painted one bag gold the other one red.

Once the paint is dry, choose a leaf pattern. The wreath has four rows of leaves so you can make them all the same or alternate different leaf patterns. I choose to use two different patterns. To save time, cut out the leaves a few out at a time. Do this by cutting the bag in half, folding one piece in half and then in half again. This will produce four layers. Trace a leaf pattern on the top layer and cut through all four layers at once.

Next cut out a large donut shape from the recycled box. This will be the base of the wreath that the leaves will be glued to. I traced a large dish for the outer circle and a smaller dish for the inner circle.

Using a hot glue gun, begin attaching the leaves onto the cardboard base, starting from the outer ring and working your way in. I started with the gold leaves for the outer row, red leaves for the center row, and gold leaves for the inner row.  When I was finished, I decided to add another row of red leaves behind the last row of gold ones.

That’s it! It’s that easy. You can make several in different colors to hang around the house. When the  season is over, the wreaths are flat enough to store for next year.

The leaf garland is even easier and doesn’t involve glue or paint.

To make the garland you will need:

  • recycled brown cardboard boxes – I love using Yogi tea boxes because they have a beautiful printed design inside
  • leaf patterns
  • scissor
  • hole punch
  • ribbon

Begin by opening up the cardboard boxes and tracing the leaf patterns. Next cut out all of the leaves and hole punch the bottom of each leaf. Be careful not to punch the holes too close to the edge.

String the leaves onto the ribbon. I chose green and gold ribbon but use whatever color  you like. Be sure to leave a little extra ribbon on the end to tie a knot. String one of the leaves onto the ribbon and tie another knot to secure the leaf. Measure six inches and tie another knot, add another leaf, and tie another knot. Continue these steps until all of the leaves are fastened. After your last knot, leave extra ribbon and cut.

String up your garland on a mantle or around the windows. The leaf designs will help bring the beauty of the fall into your home.

Please share your ideas and comments below. You can also send me  ideas and photos via email at traashart(at) or feel free to post photos to  the TRAASH Facebook page.

Photos by Stephanie Romano

Stephanie Romano

is an artist, mother, teacher, and writer who has made Jersey City her home for the last 15 years. She creates items from recycled vinyl signs and upcycled materials under the name TRAASH.