Well, here we are – the Holiday Season is in full swing.
I know how chaotic it can feel and truly wish for you to have an opportunity to slow down and have some fun with it this year.
Making little handmade gifts is one of a few ways I can really tap into the holiday spirit (see also: driving around to see twinkly lights, my mom’s chocolate chip cookies, and Die Hard).
I’ve made a lot of different things over the years, but really don’t consider myself very “crafty”. So if I can do it, you can do it. I do try to add an extra personal touch by sharing a holiday family tradition or recreating something I’ve experienced throughout the year. Ideally I can incorporate supplies I already have on hand.
Did an idea just pop in your mind? Go with it!
If the ideas aren’t coming easy, read on for some inspiration. Everything can be accomplished in an afternoon and there’s lots of room for improvising the components with items you may already have on hand, whether you’re the creative type or not. And remember, if you get stuck – google is your friend.
Share the Self Care
Making your own candles is low waste and eco-friendly and guaranteed to be as non-toxic as the ingredients you use to make them.
The vessels you choose can turn these candles into true works of art. Repurpose a .50 thrift store coffee mug, vintage tea cup, or mason jar. Or maybe you have those little glass yogurt cups or old tea tins laying around. Hm!
If you prefer to go jarless, you can make small wax melts using a silicone ice cube tray.
Fancy up the tops of your candles or melts with some herbs, flowers, or dried fruits!
Why should you avoid paraffin wax? It is derived from petroleum and full of toxic chemicals such as toluene and benzene which is released into the air when you burn them.
I strongly suggest using either raw beeswax or soy wax for something sustainable and safe to inhale.
- 1 lb Beeswax
- Vessel(s) – up to 24oz of volume
- Cotton or Wood wicks* (as many as you need for your number of vessels)
- 1-2 Tbsp Essential Oils** (optional)
- ½ Cup Coconut Oil, melted (optional)
*The wood wicks have a crackling feature for that extra *ambiance*.
**Beeswax candles naturally smell a little like honey, but you can use essential oils if you want to add some fragrance. If you’re going to do this, I recommend adding a bit of coconut oil since beeswax doesn’t seem to hold onto the scent quite as well.
Melt the wax and oil in a double boiler, then add the essential oils. Place the wicks in the jars and pour the mixture in, being sure to secure the wick with a clip (or tape to a pen) so that it holds in the middle while the candle cools.
Check out this video for a quick tutorial:
Body butter is easy to make while also ultra moisturizing and luxurious. This recipe has ingredients you can find by the ounce at Life Unplastic, but could of course altered based on what you might have on hand.
- ½ Cup Mango Butter (OR ¼ Cup Mango Butter + ¼ Cup Cocoa Butter)
- ¼ Cup Coconut Oil
- 1.5 tsp Arrowroot Powder (optional)
- Up to 36 Drops Essential Oil (optional)
If you plan to use arrowroot powder, soften the coconut oil and mix the powder in. Then use a double boiler to melt the butters.
Remove from heat and mix the butter with the coconut oil. Refrigerate the mixture until it firms up a bit, then add the essential oils and “whip” the mixture with a fork or a standing mixer. Add it to your jars and store with the lid on at room temperature.
It will keep like this for 6 months or more, though I recommend always using clean hands when you scoop it out.
(Recipe adapted from: https://livesimply.me/how-to-make-easy-body-butter/)
Most people don’t have bath bomb molds lying around and that’s OK. Look around and see what you have! You can make bath bombs into all kinds of shapes by using molds such as muffin tins (metal or silicone) and cookie cutters. And why make them traditional when they can be quirky and unique?
Their natural color is classic and elegant, but you can add different coloring agents. It’s important to be careful what dye you select, since if it’s not water soluble it will actually stain your tub (or the tub of the person you give it to! 😬)
This recipe yields 10 large bath bombs, so feel free to half it or adjust as needed. Again, almost all of these items may already be on hand in your home or can be purchased by the ounce at the shop.
- 1 Cup Cornstarch
- 1 Cup Citric Acid
- 1 Cup Epsom Salt
- 2 Cups Baking Soda
- 5 Tbsp Coconut Oil, melted
- 2 Tbsp Water
- 2 Tbsp Dried Orange Peel (optional)
- Make your own dried orange peel by zesting several oranges (3-6) and sprinkle it out on a tray to dry for 48 hours.
- 10-20 Drops Essential Oil (optional)
The orange peel is optional, but it adds a nice natural color and helps soften and exfoliate your skin. Plus it has anti-inflammatory properties!
Whisk together the cornstarch, citric acid, epsom salt, dried orange peel, and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the melted coconut oil, water, and essential oils (if using).
Very slowly add the oil mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring and mashing as you go. The end result should be similar to wet sand. Pack the mixture into your selected molds and allow to dry for at least 30 minutes (and up to 24 hours) before removing the mold.
Whip Up Delicious Consumable Concoctions
Ok here’s where your family traditions could shine or be adventurous and try something new, it’s all in the experience. Here’s some ideas to get you started:
Note: You could of course focus on what you have on hand first. I also carry a bunch of pantry staples by the ounce that will fill any gaps for a multitude of tasty, thoughtful gifts. There are so many options it’s difficult to list all the exact recipes.
**All of these consumables are great to package in clear jars with a little twine or reused bow to give as a gift.
Mix brown sugar (or raw sugar) with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like a little spice with your sweet. Add a splash of water and vanilla extract. Melt the mixture, stir in the nuts, then spread and cool them on a baking sheet before breaking them up and transferring to a container.
Cookies or Cake in a Jar:
Just mix together the dry ingredients for your favorite cookie or cake mix, then tie the instructions to the jar! We carry gluten free flour, raw sugar, and oats.
Perfect for literally anyone who loves to cook for their family. Grab your favorite chili or soup recipe and layer the dried ingredients like beans and spices in a jar. You can even add our vegan powdered broth mix. Write out and attach the instructions for the other steps, like sauteing diced veggies, adding a can of tomatoes or broth, then dumping the jar in a pot and letting it stew.
An alternative soup idea is this 13 bean fiesta soup mix. Simple and looks beautiful in a jar. Add cajun seasonings for a kick!
Put Together a Personalized Plastic-Free Gift Basket
And finally, as I look around the store it’s hard not to see all the different ways you could combine our environmentally friendly products to make tailored gifts for your friends and family. They are maybe not “DIY” in the traditional sense, but still very thoughtful and a great way to show you care.
For the coffee enthusiast:
Grab some locally-roasted coffee and pair it with a CoffeeSock and a locally made holiday scented candle.
One variety we are carrying is called ‘A Love Letter to Gainesville’ and proceeds support a program helping to eliminate food insecurity for local students.
For the homebody:
Make up a batch of super easy room freshening spray with just water, witch hazel, and essential oils! Lavender is great for relaxing a space and Lemon is refreshing and rejuvenating. We have colored glass or aluminum spray bottles so your gift is plastic-free, refillable, and non-toxic.
Pair it with these handy recycled cotton tea towels and a whimsical animal tree ornament.
For the ‘buzzy’ bee:
Local honey, beeswax food wraps, candles, and these silicone reusable bags make a cute bee-themed collection. You can even wrap it all up in this Honey Chemistry Tote bag.
For the zero waste beginner:
Foldable stainless cutlery set, bamboo toothbrush, and string grocery bag are just a few options for a starter kit that just makes sense. Other must haves: washable and reusable kitchen sponges, dishsoap block, Happy Willow shampoo bar, cotton produce bags.
Sustainable DIY Gifts Have Never Been Easier
So you see, there are many ways to put together eco-friendly gifts that won’t end up clogging our landfills and really show you care… about your people, and your planet
If you don’t have time for a visit, remember that shop items can be delivered within the Gainesville area. Order online or give us a call today.
Visit us at:
2441 NW 43rd St.
Gainesville, FL 32606