Rustic Brown Paper Bow & a Winter Memory – 12 Days of Christmas {Day 11}

I can’t believe my 12 Days of Christmas crafting event is almost over, and I really can’t believe I pulled it off!  I wasn’t thinking things through carefully when I scheduled it – with Thanksgiving, a visit from my inlaws, and one of my college sons coming home for over a week falling smack in the middle of the event, but I survived – I just pulled a lot of late-nighters to get everything done.

I think I deserve to take a bow, don’t you?

But instead of doing that, were going to make a bow – a fabulously rustic paper bow, that you can add to gifts, wreaths, garlands, and more, and I’ll share with you at the end of the post, why this type of project is so special to me.

Okay, let’s get started!

brown paper package Chritmas bow

For this project you’ll need:

1.  Roll of kraft paper (I have a huge roll that will last me for years.  I use it to wrap gifts, make crafts, and cover my table with to protect it when I’m crafting.

2.  Glue gun and glue sticks

Optional – greenery, pine cones, twine, bells, etc.


1.  Cut out the parts of the bow – you’ll need 2 long rectangles, 2 pennants, and 1 small strip

2.  Crumple the paper – just scrunch it in your hand gently, so it doesn’t tear.

paper bows parts

3.  Make the center of the bow – match up the 2 long rectangles, and gently “gather” the paper in the center.  The top side should look like this.

how to make a paper bow

4.  Glue the center – if you plan to attach the bow to a wreath or swag, cut a strip of wire.  Bend it a bit, so it rests in the center of the BACK of the bow, in the gathered center area.  Add hot glue inside each fold in the paper, with a little extra around the wire.  Use a clothespin to hold the folds shut while they dry.

paper bow tutorial

5.  Finish the center – wrap the smaller paper strip around the center of the bow, and hot glue it closed in the back.

You can stop at this point, if you want a simple “bow tie” type of bow, or add pennants next.

craft paper bow

5.  Glue pennants – overlap the 2 pennant pieces, and hot glue them together.

brown paper pennants

6.  Attach pennants – hot glue the pennants to the center strip around the bow in the back.

paper bow tutorial

That’s it, your bow is finished!  I made my bow large, measuring about 10″ wide, so I could add it to a simple evergreen swag, but you can make them any size you want.

brown paper Christmas bow

Years ago, when my 2 oldest kids were just a toddler and a baby, my husband and I lived in the mountains in New Mexico, and our gravel road  became so snowy and slick in the winter, that my husband had to put chains on our Bronco every day to make it out to the main road.  Our budget was so tight it squeaked, so we didn’t have a phone, and since I was home with my 2 little ones for hours by myself every day, I made all handmade gifts for Christmas that year.  I couldn’t afford to spend money on gifts, much less gift wrap, so all of my gifts were wrapped in kraft paper , adorned only with ribbon, pine cones and evergreen sprigs.  This bow, attached to some evergreen springs I cut this afternoon, with pine cones glued onto twine, remind me of that Christmastime in the mountains.

evergreen swag

Our only source of heat was a wood burning stove, and I often felt a bit isolated and lonely on those long, cold winter days, but in hindsight, I have fond memories of it also.  We had just adopted our daughter, so I was relishing have a little girl, and I spent a good part of my days trying to toilet train my oldest son.  He often wanted to play outside in the snow with our dog, but I couldn’t stay outside with my newborn daughter, so I pinned a large bell to the back of his coat, so if he wandered off without me noticing, I’d be able to listen for the bell.

Living there wasn’t easy, but I have fond memories of our “little house in the big woods”.  My insane husband climbed a big tree on the side of a hill, and took this photo of our home.  It was taken when our families came over to celebrate my son’s 2nd birthday.  Our one “luxury” was a wood burning hot tub on the front deck.  That winter, my husband and I often soaked in the tub, while it was snowing, and enjoyed the bright stars above.  I would dearly love to spend another winter evening in that hot tub, and wish I had even a few of those big pine trees in our yard in Illinois today!

house in the mountains

 Well, I’m off to catch a few winks, before the Junkers United event starts bright and early in the morning!  I hope you’ll come back and join me, and see my final project, along with all the other projects made by the team.

Repurposed Christmas Projects

{Click HERE to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas projects and printables I’ve shared so far}

Inexpensive Christmas Crafts and Projects

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  1. I just love this project, Angie…and your story, too! Decorating my tree today made me remember the early days of our marriage…

  2. That picture sure does bring back fond memories, I loved driving out there when I could to spend time with you and Seth and Meghan. I believe I brought Grandma Thomas with me once, Love you – Mom

  3. Sweet and simple. I love it.

  4. Cute idea for a bow! Now to “find” paper bags. Our local stores have all gone to plastic it seems. Your memory is a wonderful memory. We ALL need warm memories to keep us warm on lonely nights. Am very glad your “insane” husband did not fall from that tree while he took that beautiful picture of your lovely cabin in the woods.
    Thank you for sharing it
    Treasures by Renee

  5. Loved hearing about the days of living in the mountains! I grew up with out electricity and only a wood burning stove too so your post reminded me of this!

  6. thanks for sharing that story!! I bet your gift wrapping was prettier than store bought :). I love that brown paper bag look!

  7. Love your brown paper bow with the evergreen and pine cones. A simple craft has so much beauty. What a lovely story of the early days in your cabin and soaking in a hot tub under the stars!

  8. OMG, are you kidding me?! This is so simple yet SO pretty, I love it!


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