By Alicia Searl, Crosswalk.com
As Christmas seems to be closing in and the excitement fills the air, you may glance over at your gorgeous tree and quickly realize you have a huge task at hand. Gifts! You need to fill the bottom of that tree with thoughtful and meaningful gifts. Gifts that show how much you adore and cherish those people in your life that bring so much joy!
Sounds simple enough, right? If you are a natural gift giver, this time of year may bring out your inner child as you tap into your “gift” of giving the perfect present. I truly admire those who have that skill, and to be honest, I look forward to getting gifts from those dear people as they seem to know exactly what I need.
However, if you are a little more like me and don’t possess that gift-giving talent and the thought of finding a gift for everyone on your list feels more overwhelming and daunting than exciting, you, my friend, have come to the right place!
Finding gifts that sweetly say, “I thought of you” while staying on budget can be challenging at best. Then there’s all the hustle and bustle that comes with getting out and braving the crowds, making the thought of online shopping quite enticing. Yet that, too, can feel so impersonal.
So, why not try a different approach this year? All it takes is a little effort, time, and intentional thought to create gifts that are simply made with love. Trust me, these gifts will not only say, “I thought of you,” but they will also say, “I thought of you while I was creating it, too!”
Now, take a deep breath, relax, and let’s start by making some precious and thoughtful gifts to put under that magical tree. Need some ideas? Check out some of the gifts below. Each takes minimal time and effort, yet makes excellent gifts for family, friends, neighbors, and teachers.
1. Baked Goods
Breads, muffins, and cookies…oh my! Whether you are a baker or not, so many simple recipes will be sure to tickle the tastebuds of the recipient. Since calories don’t really count this time of year, try your hand at making some delicious concoctions you will enjoy as well, because there are bound to be leftovers.
Besides your standard quick breads, muffins, cupcakes, and cookies, here are some easy recipes to try:
Chocolate covered pretzels
Festive Chex Mix
These gifts are yummy and make for festive treats to grace the table of any home for the holidays.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Choreograph
2. Personalized Gifts
The thought behind a personalized gift is simply priceless. From mugs to ornaments, head to your local craft store and look for those gifts that will allow you and your precious little ones to add a special touch and be sure to produce a genuine and loving smile. Grab the glue, glitter, sequins, and whatever else you and your “little elves” need to create a masterpiece, and then get to it and create! The best part is these gifts come from the heart and will be cherished for years to come. If you are still looking for something more personal, create a 2024 calendar with pictures from the past year. These always go over well with our family.
Candles always bring a soft and inviting glow into our homes, which is why they make great gifts! But are they easy to make? Yes! While it takes a bit of a growing curve, once you get the hang of it, they are easy to make and allow you to use your creativity as well!
All you need is a large pot, hot glue gun, candle soy wax, wicks, glass containers, and essential oils. You can find most of these materials in your local craft store. Wash and dry your glass mason jars and set aside. Heat your wax on low heat, stirring occasionally on the stove until melted. Take a wick and secure it with a glue gun to the bottom of each glass jar. Let the wax cool slightly to 180-185 degrees, and then add 30-40 drops of your choice of essential oils. There are so many great scents for this time of year. I personally like the peppermint and sugar cookie scent. Slowly pour that melted wax into each jar. Let wax cook completely, trim the wick, cover with a lid, and tie it up with a pretty bow. It makes such a lovely gift!
4. Bath Salts and Scrubs
Bath salts and scrubs make the perfect gift for the one with sensitive (or dry) skin or the friend in need of a little self-care. These simple gifts make a pretty statement while also caring for winter-parched skin. Who doesn’t need that, right? Try the bath salt and sugar scrub recipe below.
Christmas Bath Salt
4 cups Epsom salt
1 cup pink Himalayan salt (coarse crystal works best)
2 tbsp. baking soda
40- 60 drops of Christmas Essential Oils (Your choice)
4-6 tablespoons dried rosemary (chopped and crushed)
Mix together the salts and combine well. Then, slowly drop in the essential oils and baking soda and stir thoroughly. Add crushed rosemary and lightly toss. Then, pour into glass mason jars. Use a sprig of rosemary for decoration outside if you’d like, and that’s it!
Christmas Sugar Scrub
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ sea salt (or pink Himalayan salt)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp. castile soap
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
Mix sugar and salt in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the castile soap, vanilla, and almond extract. Pour half the castile soap mixture into the large bowl with sugar and salts and lightly stir. Then add the olive oil and stir again. Add the remaining castile soap mixture and toss well. Place in mason jars and label. Such a beautiful and beneficial gift!
5. Pump Soaps and Lotions
Since we are already on a rabbit trail of caring for our skin, maybe soaps and lotions will be a nice adjoining gift to those bath salts and scrubs. No need to worry about melting and pouring and getting all the supplies needed to make homemade soaps. I have an even simpler idea that requires little prep and makes for a perfect gift. Pump Soap!
All you need is a foaming pump soap bottle, which you can easily get at a craft store or online. Add three tablespoons of castile soap, 30 drops of your favorite festive essential oils, and fill the rest with distilled water. That’s it!
For the lotion, it gets a little trickier but is still fairly easy. You can use those small mason jar bottles or get the regular pump bottles. In a small saucepan, boil about 3 cups distilled water. While that is coming to a boil, gather ½ cup of oil. You can use sunflower, grapeseed, or avocado. You can even mix a combination of two or three oils if you’d like. Add ½ cup emulsifying wax (this helps blend ingredients, causing them to stick together) and heat in the microwave or on the stove to melt. Then, blend the hot oil with the hot water mixture and mix well. Set aside and let it cool. This can take up to an hour or so. Once cool, add ¼ cup vitamin E oil (optional) and about 40 drops of your favorite essential oil. Mix well again and then pour into a jar or pump container. The gift of soft, satin hands will be a win for sure!
Photo credit: ©Getty/ronstik
This gift not only smells divine but can make for festive décor to a home as well. Simply gather items to scent, such as small pinecones, leaves, cinnamon sticks, sanded wood chips, dried fruit (skins, too), and flowers. Sola flowers can also be used as they are great for holding in the scents. Then, you will need fragrant festive oil or essential oils, such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, orange, pine, or a holiday blend.
Now, all that is left to do is scent your materials. This part can get messy, so grab some gloves and a large bowl. Then pour oils on top of each item you want to scent, one drop per item if you want it to be really fragrant and last. Then toss, and it will release the scent. Let set to dry for about 10-12 hours. Grab some plastic bags and ties to wrap up as a gift. This pretty gift is sure to invite all the spicy scents of the season!
7. Cocoa Bombs
These cute and festive balls of cocoa have become the latest craze. If you have ever used a cocoa bomb to make a cup of cocoa, you know exactly what I mean. However, if you have never used a cocoa bomb, let me put it to you this way – once you try it, you may never go back to the packets of cocoa mix. You simply add the chocolate bomb to your favorite Christmas mug, slowly pour hot water (or milk) over the top, and then watch the magic happen! Out pops everything you need to stir up a delicious cup of chocolatey goodness.
So, how do you make these scrumptious (and adorable) gifts, you might ask? First, you will need a coco silicone bomb mold. Then, simply follow the recipe below. It makes six cocoa bombs.
Melt 6 cups of chocolate on the stove. Stir and keep warm so it doesn’t set. Take a ½ tablespoon of chocolate and pour it into one of the cavities of each half mold. You will want to use a small brush to get it all around the sides. You don’t want any chocolate to pool at the bottom, so try to use a thin layer and get it all around the sides. Then, once all the molds have a layer of chocolate, place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to set. Then repeat and do another layer of chocolate, and pop them back in the fridge for another 5-10 minutes. Once set, gently try to push them out of the mold and place them on a cool surface cup up. Then fill with 1 tbsp. of cocoa mix and miniature marshmallows (about 10-15) to three of the shells. Next, take a small saucepan and heat up for one minute. Take the top of the other three empty shells, rub on a heated saucer to melt just a bit, and place on top to congeal them together. You can also take extra melted chocolate to go around the sides to seal the seams. Once the chocolate is set, place them in a cupcake liner and put into a small bag. Tie up with a ribbon, and voila! Such a cute gift!
8. Crafty Gifts
This is where you get to tap into your special talents. As a writer and lover of words, I have always given poems or heartfelt letters to the ones I love on special occasions. On my wedding day, I gave my parents a poem and wrote my husband a letter he read right before walking down the aisle.
Take a moment to think about what you really love to do, maybe even a hobby. Then, go from there. Paint a picture, knit a blanket, crochet a scarf, take photos and make a collage, refurbish a piece of furniture, or create a beautiful pottery piece. There are so many ways we can use a “gift” we possess to share with others as a gift to them. Let your imagination soar, and get creative. A personal and heartfelt gift will be sure to spread love and bring on good cheer.
And there you have it, my friend, simply sweet homemade gifts made with love to place under your tree. I hope your holidays are filled with moments that allow you to savor this precious time, allowing you to create meaningful gifts for those you dearly love. Happy creating, gifting, and giving!