Creative Gifting for a Crowd

3:11 PM

Rachel puts the lip balm into containers before it solidifies.
One funny thing about using Pinterest is that when you begin to "research" an idea and start a board with all your idea/research pins, anyone who follows you can quickly identify what you're up to. They do have secret boards, but I rarely think to use them. 

This past Christmas, since my nutso family still gives gifts to everybody instead of drawing names (which we really must begin to do...since the headcount is almost into the 30s), I gave serious thought to my gifts.  Since I love creative, handmade gifts, I decided I would largely go that route. It did involve a substantial amount of planning and preparation, so I began getting things together around the end of October. Which involved a lot of pinning ideas onto a board I made on Pinterest. My sisters-in-law knew I was up to something.

One of the most amazing gifts I received after having Wyeth was a basket filled with bath salts, a bath sugar scrub, some body butter, a handmade crocheted washcloth and a knit hat for Wyeth. I love things like that - because I know it took a lot of time and thought to make it. It is such a personalized gift, and I felt so special and loved when I received it. Plus, while I love bath salts and scrubs, I'm not likely to buy them for myself, even though I love using them. And I figured I probably wasn't alone in that sentiment.

So I decided to put together gifts for my mom and sisters-in-law with handmade bath salts, sugar scrubs, containers of peppermint lip balm and a handmade crocheted washcloth. I didn't make Rachel one since her job requires her to pack minimally and travel all the time. Instead, I recruited her to help me make the salts, scrubs and lip balm! It turned out to be a really special way to spend an afternoon with my little sister (who happens to be one of my best friends).


Using the following basic lip balm recipe, we made a Peppermint Lip Balm for each person, with several to spare! It turned out to be an amazing lip balm - long lasting and awesome on your lips.

Peppermint Lip Balm
2 tbsp bees wax (I ordered beeswax beads online from here)
5 tsp Coconut Oil (also ordered online from here)
2 tbsp sweet almond oil (from here)
1 tsp honey
10 drops of essential peppermint oil

Melt everything (but do not boil) except the essential oil in a double boiler and then mix in the essential oil using a wooden chopstick. While everything is still liquid, use a syringe to pour into your containers. It solidifies pretty quickly. 

I used little paint containers from Hobby Lobby, but you can also order tins or little glass Carmex-type tubs online from various suppliers, like Bulk Apothecary.


It was a lovely yellow color from the beeswax and smelled wonderful!


Phase two of our handmade creations was the bath salts and scrubs.
I used a combination of recipes to put these together, and there's a certain degree of "feeling your way through it" involved, so I can't give a truly specific recipe, but I can tell you loosely what we did.

I made each batch individually, since I was using different essential oils for each person. I tried to tailor each person's scents to them. I used the following essential oils: lavender, grapefruit, rosemary, peppermint and bergamot.  I mixed the rosemary and peppermint together for some of the bath scrubs.

Bath Salts
In a large bowl, pour 1 cup of Epsom salts and 1 cup sea salts. (you can add more epsom salts if you like)
Toss them together with your hands to mix well.
Add about 30 drops of your desired essential oil and mix together well with your hands. You want it to smell pretty strongly of the oil so it will not fade away.

Using a funnel, pour the salts into your containers. (I got my containers from Hobby Lobby).

Sugar Scrub
Pour 2 cups of sugar (regular sugar, like you'd bake with) into a large bowl.
Add in approximately 1 cup of oil - I used almond oil and safflower oil (mostly almond, though).
You're basically using a 2:1 ratio of sugar, although if it feels too dry, add more oil. You want there to be enough oil to seep up through the sugar.
Then add in about 15 drops of essential oil. This is also an estimate as you want the scent to permeate the mixture and it may take more or less essential oil depending on the scent.

Scoop into your containers (again, from Hobby Lobby).

I did NOT give them to my sisters looking as they do above. We just used tape to label them while we were making them so they didn't get mixed up.  I tied ribbons around each item with a label containing the contents and how to use each one. I made sure to warn everyone that when using the sugar scrub in the shower, be careful not to slip! The oils make the shower floor slippery.


And this is what the crocheted washcloths looked like.  I had to teach myself to crochet to make these, but it was a good incentive for me. I'd been wanting to learn how for quite awhile. It was pretty fun! And again, this was something I could work on around the house while doing other things.


While my sisters-in-law got the Pampering Bath Items, I decided to knit hats for all my little nieces and nephews, as well as Dorien and Rene.  (August and Brooklyn already have hand-knit hats from me).
Each hat to approximately 2 1/2 hours to knit, more or less.  I used this pattern from Purl Bee and mostly scrap yarn that I had on hand leftover from other projects. I had to buy a little yarn, but not as much as you'd think. My niece Aden missed the picture above due to a nap, which is a shame cause I love her hat! 



A better view of the different styles and color mixes.
There were 10 hats knit in all.



Another view of the hats, plus a thumb. 
The picture quality of this whole post isn't great, and for that, I apologize.
But hopefully, you get the general idea.

For most of my brothers, I got them books they requested, along with some ties and a few other specifically requested things. I got the most joy out of the gifts I made, to be sure.
There is something special about making a gift for someone - your thoughts are on them as you make it, sew it, knit or crochet it - and it truly is blessed with love for them.

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