DIY Pretty File Folders

Don't spend money on pretty decorative file folders from the store when they are so easy to make using plain manila folders, scrapbook paper, ribbons, and other little doodads from your craft stash.

These are perfect for customizing however you would like so that you can make them totally YOU!

I'm sharing this easy, thrifty, tutorial as part of this month's Thrifty Style Team.

Be sure to head to the bottom of this post (after you're all done seeing all the details) and visit the other wonderful members of the team all sharing gorgeous projects!

How to Make Decorative File Folders

First, gather your supplies:

Manila Folders - I bought an 8 pack at the Dollar Tree but I've also seen them at Walmart and Staples

Scrapbook paper - 12 x 12 sheets work best

Digital/printable ephemera - my favorite source for this is the Graphics Fairy

Glue stick (can also use double sided tape and/or hot glue)

Embellishments as desired - I used ribbons, eyelets (punch holes and secure eyelets with a Crop-a-dile), fabric flowers, Dymo label maker and supplies, etc.

*I like to stock up on the little tchotchkes when they're on clearance and then use them for projects like this*

Small Office Storage Solutions Below


Choose the scrapbook paper you would like to use and start tracing! Trace the top tab on to the paper. This first trace will coincide with the BACK of the folder and you only need to trace the top and about 1 inch down on each side.

Next, trace the front of the folder and all the way down the side to include about an 1 ½ overlap so that you can bring the scrapbook paper to the wrong side of the folder.

Line up the left side of the folder with the left side of the scrapbook paper. Doing this assures the left side will be even and also means less cutting.

Cut your pieces apart. You'll have a top portion for the back of the folder and a larger piece for the front of the folder. I use scissors for the top portion and a paper trimmer for the long edge.

Start gluing! I have folders I made 11 years ago :O and the glue is still holding. I prefer to use a glue stick since this is the easiest method but you could also use double sided tape or in you're in a pinch, use a hot glue gun.

Now, this is where the fun begins. Start embellishing!

Use ribbon, flowers, pennants, and anything else you want to pretty up your folders. Make labels (or not!) and enjoy.

Above are some of the other folders I've made. From left to right, top to bottom:

A bill folder with a cute "yearly egg account" glued to the front to keep track of expenses.

A home decor folder. That one if one of my favorites. The door is cut from scrapbook paper and the gold handles are a plastic and rhinestone buckle glued to the front.

The Marriage Certificate folder is one I made to hold the love notes and letters my husband has given me...and

The last folder holds recipes.

Display and enjoy!

More Thrifty Decor Inspiration!

Redhead Can Decorate - Mini DIY Pumpkin Patch
The Painted Hinge - Upcycled Fall Wreath
DIY Beautify - The Easiest Fall Centerpiece Ever
2 Bees In A Pod - Revamped Vintage Clorox Bottle
Postcards From The Ridge - DIY Pedestals From Thrifted Candleholders
The How To Home - DIY Pretty File Folders
The Tattered Pew - DIY Cane Armoire Makeover
Sweet Pea - DIY Gold Trimmed Painted Wooden Tray
What Meegan Makes - Vintage Bicycle Wreath for Fall
Cottage At The Crossroads - Paint a White Pumpkin
I Should Be Mopping The Floor - 5 Vintage Vanity Mirror Tray Uses
The Creek Line House - Inexpensive Faux Board and Batten Wall

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  1. Michelle @ The Painted Hinge says:

    These are adorable! They'd almost make me look forward to paying the bills 🙂

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thanks, Michelle! I'm still waiting to be happy about bill paying. 😉

    2. I love this idea, Marybeth!! My files are an ugly dark green, yucko!!! I need to do this!!

      1. Mary Beth says:

        You'll have so much fun making these!

  2. Jenny Young says:

    You'll have so much fun making these!

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you so much, Jenny!

  3. Never would have thought to do this, but looking at my file folders hanging by my desk - well I now know what to do with all the bits and pieces I have. Can't wait to start. Thank you.

    1. Mary Beth says:

      I'm so glad you like this idea, Barb! If you make some and feel like sharing, I would love to see them. Have a wonderful week.

  4. Paula@SweetPea says:

    I have so much scrapbook paper that I'm never going to use for scrapbooking. This is a perfect way to use some of my pretty paper and create something useful to help me be organized. I've never thought about looking for file folders at the Dollar Store. I'm definitely looking for them the next time I go.

    1. Mary Beth says:

      You're right! This is a great project for using up scrapbook paper. Also, the packages at the Dollar Store have 8 in them and they're not too flimsy which is awesome!

  5. These are seriously the sweetest file folders ever...perfect to display on the corner of a desk! Love them.

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you, Kristi!

  6. Mary Beth these are beautiful! You are so talented and I am excited to embellish some of my own!

    1. Mary Beth says:

      Thank you so much, Kelly!