Keep the kids (and Grandpa!) occupied this Thanksgiving with these easy DIY busy bags. Individual designs and activities keep your family entertained on the holiday.


This easy Thanksgiving craft is a great way to keep the kids occupied before and during the big Thanksgiving meal. These simple hand-painted muslin drawstring bags can be customized with painted designs then filled with art supplies and toys for kids of all ages—and adults, too!

  • Working time 30 mins
  • Start to finish 2 hrs
  • Difficulty Easy
  • Involves Painting

What you need


How to do it

Step 1


Purchase a set of small muslin bags; we purchased ours in bulk at a crafts store. When you're ready to decorate the bags, place a sheet of paper into each bag as you paint to protect the other side from paint transfer. 

Step 2


Before you start painting, use washi tape to tape off the section of the bag you want to paint. We chose a striped design, so we put down two pieces of tape to create a nice edge for each line. Paint the taped-off area, then let dry. Don't worry too much about staying perfectly in the lines—the tape is there to help keep the paint inside the pattern. We added a second coat of paint over the top of the first for a more vibrant color, then let it dry again.

Step 3

Create a Design

Once your first painted design is dry, remove the tape and tape off more sections until you have a design you like. Tape off the four corners for a triangle pattern, layer tape in a cross-hatch design to create diamonds, or section off the bag horizontally and vertically for a color-block design. By letting the paint dry and then removing the tape each time, you can have two colors right next to each other. Continue taping and painting until you're happy with the finished design. Let the bags dry completely before filling them with goodies.

Step 4


Once the bags are painted and ready, pull out the paper and load the bag with goodies. A deck of cards, coloring supplies, stickers, and other small toys are all great ideas for filling the bags. Lay out these bags at a kids' table well before dinner is served. The kids can sit, draw, play with their new goodies—and stay out of the kitchen while you finish preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Win-win! 


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