By Isabel Mack, founder of the Party Kit Network.
One of my favourite zero-waste party game ideas – reusable pass-the-parcel bags!
It’s such a simple idea and just as much fun as the traditional wrapping-paper game.
Many of our party kits include pass-the-parcel bags or provide them as an optional add-on.
There’s no waste and it's a lot quicker than all that wrapping. If the prize is too large for the smallest fabric bag, simply pop a winner's token or note inside and present the prize separately. And it's still possible to include sweets or forfeits between layers.
Here’s our guide to making your own set of reusable pass-the-parcel bags.
There are several fastening options for pass-the-parcel bags:
Buttons with buttonholes
Buttons with loops
Some fastenings are easier for younger children to open than others. And some are easier to make than others. If you’re feeling creative, there’s no reason why a set of bags can’t have a variety of fastening methods for a bit more fun.
Making a set of 10 reusable drawstring pass-the-parcel bags
You will need the following items:
Fabric – approx 4.2m x 3m in total, preferably in at least two designs
Cord – approx 5m in total
Scissors (preferably dressmaking scissors)
Pencil/pen for marking
Iron and ironing board
In this guide we’re going to make the bags using a sewing machine, but of course it is possible to make them by hand.
OPTIONAL EXTRA: Some people add numbered tabs to their bags to make it easier to use them in order.
How to make a drawstring bag
I find it easier to start with the smallest bag so that I can make adjustments to the size of the next bag if my cutting and sewing isn’t too accurate!
I’d recommend ironing each piece of fabric first before measuring and cutting.
Measure the fabric for the first bag. This should be 25 x 20cm.
Turn the fabric over, so the right side (patterned side) is face down and the fabric in the landscape position (the longest length is horizontal).
Fold the top edge over by 0.5cm and then again by 2.5cm, ensuring when sewn this will make a channel big enough to thread through the cord for the drawstring. By folding twice and sewing once you get a nice neat edge.
Pin and sew the new edge using a straight stitch (or running stitch) ensuring the stitching is at the bottom of the folded edge.
You may find it helpful to iron the folds in place before pinning.
Fold the fabric in half with the right side facing inwards
Pin along the bottom and open side of the bag.
Optional: If you wanted to add a label with the bag number on, pin it at this point so it can be sewn into the seam, remembering that it needs to be on the inside of the bag so that it is the right way round when the bag is turned right side out.
Using a straight stitch sew down the side, starting BELOW the cord channel you created earlier on the top edge, and along the bottom.
Repeat with a Zigzag stitch along the outside to reduce the fraying from the cut edges.
Secure and tidy up the loose ends, for which you may need a needle.
Turn the bag the right way around and iron.
Thread through the cord and knot the ends.
I prefer to finish each end of the drawstring with a big knot and avoid making loops.
WARNING: Loops can be really dangerous for little ones, especially if they can fit over their heads. I recommend not using loops at all, but should you choose to, make them smaller than the circumference of an infant’s head (which is approximately 35cm).
Making the next bag
Cut a piece of fabric to the correct size and iron if required. Repeat steps 2 to 4 (above).
Remember, when measuring and cutting the fabric, to use different fabric for alternative bags.
Suggested fabric sizes for each bags:
Bag 1: 25 x 20cm
Bag 2: 28 x 21.5cm
Bag 3: 31 x 23cm
Bag 4: 35 x 25cm
Bag 5: 38 x 26.5cm
Bag 6: 41 x 28.5cm
Bag 7: 45 x 30cm
Bag 8: 49 x 32cm
Bag 9: 55 x 35cm
Bag 10: 61 x 38cm
Tips for alternative fastenings
Cut the strip of velcro the width of the bag minus 4cm.
Rip the velcro apart so you have two strips.
Stitch a strip to each side on the inside of the bag opening, ensuring they will meet when the bag is closed.
FOR BUTTONS WITH LOOPS:
Use elastic, thin cord or a felt tab with a hole cut for the button
When sewing on the button, put a piece of cardboard or even a coaster inside the bag so that you don’t accidentally sew the two sides of the bag together.
Adding a piece of fabric or felt inside the bag will help keep the button secure and reduce pulling on the bag fabric.
Tips on sourcing fabric
Ideally you need fabric in at least two different patterns or colours.
Reusing material rather than buying new will make your pass-the-parcel bags more environmentally friendly.
The material in the video above came from my mum’s scrap fabric stash. There’s a summer dress from the 1970s, the skirt from my old school summer uniform and some curtain offcuts.
If you don’t have a stash of suitable fabric, try asking via local Facebook or community groups. Have a look for preloved fabric bundles on eBay or other marketplace websites. Check your local charity shops or local Scrapstore (UK).
I love to see party reusables in action so please tag @partykitnetwork in any photos of your finished pass-the-parcel bags.