adidas / November 2022

6 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas

Learn how to wrap a present without waste with six different sustainable gift-wrapping ideas from adidas designers.

Creating Eco-Friendly Gift-Wrapping


As the holiday season approaches, earth-conscious people might get overwhelmed with the thought of gifting simply because of the amount of waste it can create. Between packaging from online shopping and purchasing wrapping supplies that get tossed after holidays are over, there’s a mountain of single-use waste being created around the world. But what if you could upcycle packaging materials and turn them into something fresh?
We took over the adidas Maker Lab, tasking Natalie Potts, an apparel designer at adidas, and Marvin Manheimer, a prototype engineer at adidas, to create unique, eco gift-wrapping ideas out of materials you likely have lying around your house. Looking at objects through a different lens is just one way of living a more sustainable lifestyle and it can take some practice, but soon it will feel like second nature. 

How To Upcycle Packaging into Gift Wrap

With three levels of easy, moderate, and challenging sustainable gift-wrapping ideas, there’s something here for everyone to try their hand at. Download the step-by-step for full access to instructions and templates for each project.

Level 1: Beginner, "All In the Details"

Bag Tag

Gift tags are an easy way to use smaller pieces of materials and make your own unique notes for gifting. With the ability to slip a little note inside or keep it short and sweet by writing directly on top, it’s a fun and simple way to add a personal touch to your gift. You’ll start by printing out the template and tracing over the shoe box, then cutting it out and folding it up. Secure it with glue and attach a string. Then finish off by writing a note and tying it to your gift or hanging it as an ornament to decorate your tree.

Wrapping Paper

Need a quick method to wrap a gift? Grab any paper bag you have, open it up and voila—instant wrapping paper. Be sure to use paper or bio-based tape to not add extra plastic, which will help keep the wrapping paper recyclable. Use an extra-large bag for wrapping a shoe box, or cut it down to wrap a couple smaller gifts. You can personalize the wrapping even more by drawing on the outside to create a fun holiday decoration.

Level 2: Moderate, "Set The Scene"


Poly Bag Tote

Have plastic bags ever looked so chic? Clothing orders shipped to home usually arrive in protective plastic bags. By simply ironing them together, you’ll end up with a cute little bag that’s perfect to gift a pair of cozy socks, a t-shirt or a scarf. By fusing the material together you’ll create a strong leathery texture, and you can add a handle for extra flair. Personalize the bag by adding little designs to one of the layers and securing them with the hot iron.

Self-Closing Box

This easy box takes minutes to make, and you can create multiple in different sizes from one shoe box. Start by tracing the template on the box and cutting it out. Then fold along the perforation marks and glue the sides to secure, and boom, the box is ready. Perfect for gifting small accessories, it can be reused later as a storage container at your desk.

Level 3: Advanced, "The Show Stopper"


Tote Bag

We love a gift that comes inside of a gift. Everyone can use a tote bag, and this one will have fun designs based on the t-shirt you pick. Just cut the sleeves off and snip a deeper hole at the neck. Flip it inside out and sew the bottom hem and the strap edges for a clean finish. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can still make this by cutting ½ inch strips along the bottom hem and double knotting them together to create a handmade seam. Stuff it with extra holiday goodies and watch your friend’s face light up with this thoughtful gift.

Triangle Purse

Name a cuter way to use cardboard, we’ll wait. This triangle purse shows off the 3-Stripes, and you’d be doing the most to give a little gift in this thing. If you’ve got two shoe boxes, you can make it. Start by cutting out the shapes on the template and using tape and hot glue to secure the edges. Finish by attaching rings and a strap and it is bound to be a showstopper under the tree. Get creative with the strap—here we used seatbelt material, but you could braid fabric from an old t-shirt or denim from jeans.

Having Fun With Sustainable Gift Wrap

Choosing the sustainable route is a fun challenge, and Potts encourages people to do what they can. “[Sustainability] is intimidating for people and it's something I really empathize with,” said Potts. “Just being someone that's trying to make a good decision is half the battle. We have so many choices as consumers and just considering, ‘should I buy this? Should I consume this? Could I meet this need through second hand?’ Those [questions] are a huge part of sustainability—and nobody's perfect. Don’t be hard on yourself.”

In The Maker Lab

The adidas Maker Lab opened in 2017 at the adidas headquarters in Portland, Oregon. It’s a space filled with sewing machines, lasers, 3D printers and more, plus a wall piled high with second-hand fabric. The Maker Lab is open to all adidas employees and hosts community events aimed at helping people learn more about product design and experimenting with creativity.
We hope you try these sustainable gift-wrapping ideas out this season. If you do, show us your creations by tagging @adidas on Instagram. Stuff your eco-friendly gift wrap with gifts made from sustainable materials from adidas by shopping the links below.
adidas / November 2022