Crafts that will make your kids hate you: Repurposed pharmacy bags

The other day I realized we were out of brown paper lunch bags for Jack.

Because we’re a family of quasi-hoarders, we had a readily available alternative:

photo (67)There are downsides, of course, to sending your kid to school looking like he’s hauling a bag of prescriptions. Which means Mike and I spent a few minutes debating whether it would be okay to just cross out the label with a sharpie and put “smootchy” or “kissyface” over the top. We know how much Jack loves the opportunity to share our pet names for him with all his hombres at school.

We must have spent just a smidge too long discussing which endearment would be most appropriate for a Tuesday, because the next thing we knew, the kid in question had shoved his various lunch components in his backpack, and headed out without even saying goodbye.

The question of what to do with these perfectly usable bags we’re storing for no reason whatsoever has been weighing on me. This weekend, inspired by the Amy Sedaris bible for any over-doer on a budget: Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People (which I have not read, but really like the cover)I set out to spend about a half dozen hours of free time I would normally use for sleeping, writing, running, or yelling at my kids to make something to share with you people.

Because I care. I really do.

Therefore, I give you the latest Manic Mumbling creation: The Crafty Window Lunch Bag.

You will need:

  • Lunch-sized paper bags (preferably emblazoned with some sort of logo you’d rather be rid of. If not your local pharmacy, you can choose from something you brought your booze home in, or a bag from Victoria’s Secret).
  • All the crafty crap you’ve been cramming into a cupboard for years ever since the kids were little just in case someone got a notion to draw, stamp, cut, paste, mould or scrapbook.

photo (68)

  • Something to cut with (an X-Acto knife, box cutter or other precision cutting tool).
  • A slab of cardboard, cut slightly smaller than the width of your bags.
  • Clear packing tape.
  • Someone artistic who will go along with your plan to make something crafty out of all this garbage for the sake of your blog.

Our lovely exchange student Hanna happens to be an artist, and also happened to be easily suckered into doing me a favor looking for a project that morning.

First, she sat down to determine which of our decades-old markers still had some juice left in them. Then, she pretty much ignored whatever I told her to do in favor of doing things the right way. Which, let’s face it, considering my abilities in the craft department and lack of artistic ability overall, is probably the best course of action.

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First, slide the cardboard into the bag. Using a ruler or straight-edge, cut the logo out of the bag.

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Don’t do this yourself, especially if your feeble, middle-aged hands aren’t precise enough and you’re a bleeder. Enlist your teenager. Keep your cell phone handy to document with photos and to call the paramedics in case she nicks a blood vessel.


Then, let your artistic flag fly, or encourage your young Rembrandt to do so while you drink coffee and supervise. It’s hard work, but I know you can do it.

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When the art stuff is done, cut a piece of the packing tape roughly the width of the window in the bag, fold the ends under, and stick them to the cardboard.

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Insert the cardboard into the bag, being careful not to touch the insides of the bag. With the tape under the window opening, smooth the edges of the opening to the tape, then carefully remove the edges of the tape from the cardboard, smoothing them to the insides of the bag as well.

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Finally, cut another piece of packing tape and affix it to the top of the window.

This might take an extra pair of hands. Feel free to yell at your husband to get off his duff to come help take a picture of this step. Jeez, do you have to do EVERYTHING around here?

Remove the cardboard.

Presto! A lovely lunch bag for your teenager that doesn’t make him look like he’s packing around a couple blister packs of mama’s little helper.

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Seriously, have you ever seen someone more elated about lunch?


You’re welcome.


I know. What did you ever do without this kind of instruction? You can pay me back by voting. Thank you.



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  1. Hilarious. 🙂 My 13 year old simply gets embarrassed by my very existence. I don\’t think I\’d be able to pull off any sort of lunch bag anything. He would seriously just not eat. And that\’s okay because he knows so much more than his parents.

  2. I\’ve never been the kind of mom to get involved with arts and crafts. I thought it was because as a single working mom, I just didn\’t have time for them. Now I realize it\’s really because I never saw this one on Pinterest. I would walk out of a board meeting or give up precious sleep to see the happy precious faces of my teenagers when presented with these surprise lunch bags. Thanks, Beth!

  3. I will always pay you back with a vote.

    I will not, however, ever do this craft.

    I\’m the least crafty person, maybe ever.

    In fact, it\’s why I suck as a SAHM.

    Super cute, though, and I love when other people are crafty.

    1. May I entice you with a lovely coffee can/pipe cleaner combo that functions as a stylish handbag? A crumb pyramid? A belly-button lint sweater? I\’m all about the anti-craft.

      And you absolutely do not suck as a SAHM, you know. You\’re pretty much rocking the whole mom thing. Just sayin\’.

  4. I\’m exhausted just watching her make those bags.

    Can I pay her to make one for my son? 🙂 He\’s young enough that he\’d actually like it. She could get a whole business going out of it..

    1. She COULD start a little business out of it, and out of about a half dozen other things she has the energy for around here that no one else does.

      I\’ll send you these bags if you want them. They\’re clearly served their purpose here!

  5. Oh my gosh, you are hilarious! I laughed throughout this entire post. I love all of your \”crafty crap\” btw. We have lots of that stuff kickin\’ around here too. And, OH MY HECK, your exchange student has skills! Those bags turned out amazing. I LOVE the pic of your kids so so much! Priceless.