December 8, 2015

The Art of DIY Christmas Gifts, plus two DIY recipes

Type in DIY Christmas gifts in Pinterest or Google and you’ll be inundated with about a million options. So many of them seem pretty fab and, according to almost every author, are definitely easy to do. Sounds great, right? Sometimes, though, it’s not so great. And they’re not always easy. And your best-laid plans end up in a gloopy, greasy mess on your counter (#askmehowiknow). It totally stinks, and can make what seemed like a great way to show your family and friends how much they mean to you end up being a total waste of time/money/effort/tears. But even with a ton of fails under my belt, I still love DIY gifts. I think they add a personal touch to an otherwise gift card-laden holiday season. However, I have to add a caveat to that: DIY gifts are only as good as the giver. They can be lovely, inspired surprises, but just as easily can end up coming across as totally impersonal (which seems totally counterintuitive, but is sooo true!). So, how can you ensure that your DIY gift is thoughtful, personal and (hopefully) appreciated, all at the same time?

the art of the DIY christmas gift.

My Little List of DIY Christmas gifting Do’s

Do consider the recipient:

So, you saw this awesome cookie-recipe-in-a-jar-mix  and totally want to make a bunch to give as gifts. Awesome. But only if they people you give them to actually own a cookie sheet and might have eggs and butter in their fridge. You have to ask yourself an important question: would they actually enjoy baking some cookies? If you give a DIY gift, consider who you are giving it to, and what his/her interests are. In the same way you wouldn’t buy underwear for your boss, or spatulas for your hunting-loving-kitchen-hating husband, you should ponder the interests of the recipient and tailor your DIY gift to reflect those interests. Know someone who bakes? Then absolutely go with a cookie recipe in a jar. Looking for a gift for a guy who likes watching sports and drinking beer? For sure make that spicy jerky recipe for him. Have gardening buddies? Make some gardener’s soap or healing salve for those pesky rose thorn scratches.

Do make something that is actually your fave:

Pinterest really does have a million DIYs. You could probably close your eyes and point, and pick one that way. But I think really meaningful DIYs are the ones that you actually love and you have perfected over time. Do you have a great lip balm recipe that you use time and again, or a fantastic soup that could be put into jars? Does your family make delicious pickles that people are always raving about? You might think they’re boring because you’ve made them a gazillion times, but your recipient hasn’t and would probably love to be the proud owner of that chutney or body butter. Just make sure it’s something that you do well. This works on two levels: first, you can be sure that what you’re giving is something you are really proud of and you already know tastes/looks/is amazing. Second, you don’t have to deal with those potential Pinterest fails and the stress that comes with wondering if the item will keep or fall apart or whatever. Do what you do best.

Do consider packaging:

So you’ve chosen your DIY gift. Next is the packaging, or rounding out the gift. If you’re giving jam, why not make a basket with some fresh bread and a nice spreader. Or if you’re doing pickles, add some artisan cheese and crackers. It’s something small, but it does take the gift to the next level. When you are considering the packaging, keep it thematic. It looks cohesive and well-thought out.

Do DIY from the heart:

When all is said and done, the most important aspect to successful DIY gifts is DIYing from the heart. Taking the time to consider what the recipient likes or needs and then preparing something with them specifically in mind, will come through in the gift and make for a more meaningful holiday season!

I am DIY gifting this year, too!

This year, I’m making some of my favourite lotion bars and lip balm for a few of my friends. Both the lotion bars and lip balm are go-to’s for my daughter and I. We use them again and again, and I figured if we liked them, then hopefully my friends would too.

Even though I love to make my own products, and I probably could DIY the whole gift, I am also trying to keep it real. I wanted to round out the gift with a little cosmetic bag for their purses but  knew one truth about myself that would inhibit said bags from ever being constructed by me: I hate to sew. Like HATE it. I have a sewing machine and I have made stuff and I even have a fabric stash, but the thought of actually ironing, cutting, measuring and sewing makes me break out in a sweat! Yes, I’ve admitted defeat to my sewing machine! Instead, I enlisted the creative skills of my sister-in-law Rebecca, who is a sewing fiend! (as in, she made her own wedding dress, WITH sequins!). She has a little cottage industry and makes all sorts of neat gifty things. So, I purchased a few of her adorable makeup bags to put my lotion bars and lip balms in. They are cute, no?! Giving the lip balm and lotion bars on their own is a great gift, but rounding it out with the makeup bag just sort of bumps the gift up a notch, in my opinion.

the art of the DIY christmas gift.


Sweet Orange Mini Lotion bars

1/4 cup coconut oil

3 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup beeswax

2 blobs of benzoin

7 drops sweet orange essential oil

1/4 tsp vitamin E

Line a mini cupcake tin with mini cupcake liners.

In a double boiler, or a glass measuring cup used specifically for perfumes and lotions (beeswax is notoriously difficult to get off and if you have a container specifically for melting your beeswax products in, it makes life a lot easier!), melt coconut oil, olive oil and beeswax.

Once oils and wax are completely melted, remove from heat, stir well, and add benzoin, sweet orange essential oil and vitamin E. Stir well to combine and pour into lined cupcake tin. I like to fill each cup to almost the top of the liner.

Allow to cool overnight.

Yield:8-10 mini cupcakes

the art of the DIY christmas gift.

Cocoa-mint Lip Balm

10 g beeswax

12 g coconut oil/shea butter

7 g cocoa butter

20 g olive oil/sunflower oil

1/2-1 tsp of cocoa powder

4 blobs of benzoin

12 drops of peppermint essential oil

1/4 tsp vitamin E

Prepare your lip balm tube or containers.

In a double boiler, or a glass measuring cup melt oils and beeswax.

Once the oils and wax are completely melted, add the cocoa powder and stir well to combine. Allow to meld for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir well, and add benzoin, peppermint essential oil and vitamin E. Stir well to combine and pour into lip balm tubes or containers.

Yield: 8 lip balm tubes

*both recipes can very easily be doubled or halved.

the art of the DIY christmas gift.

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