DIY gifts

We are well past Christmas now, recovering from daily family gatherings, maybe an abundance of food, and this week as I drove home I still caught a glimpse of the odd Christmas tree hanging out on the front porch, waiting to be discarded.  Some homes look like they might need a reminder that Christmas has indeed past, and that the thousands of twinkling, blinking, sparkling lights can (please) now be taken down!

In November I went on a school trip to Calgary.  One of our afternoons was spent at the mall; you can’t not take teenagers to a mall if they don’t have one in their hometown.  Practicing my optimism, I thought to myself, “Great!  I’ve got all the time in the world to get all my Christmas shopping done here!”  Was it to be so?

Optimism failing quickly!  The mall was busy with shoppers, holiday music, and the echo of chatter resounding on every floor.  I walked the entire mall with no success.  What was the problem?  Surely there is an abundance of goods here, anything a person could want.  We’ve got multiple shoe stores, bags, clothing, jewelry, chocolate…

Shoes, bags, clothing, jewelry, chocolate…

I soon came to the realization that though each store was different, they carried the same goods.  Quickly, my optimism dissipated, and I became angry.  Why does this mall not have anything to inspire me?!  There was nothing special about it.  My family deserved something special, something from the heart, and that doesn’t include all this material crap.  My cousin doesn’t need another pair of earrings.  My aunt doesn’t need another scarf.  My mom doesn’t need another sweater.

Coming back home, I vented my frustrations to my husband.  He said to me, “Well, you always enjoy making stuff.  Why don’t you just make them something?”

How did he have that idea before me?!  Thanks, husband, you’re awesome.

And so I scrounged my brain, others’ brains, and Pinterest, and chose the items I would make for the aforementioned three ladies!  I set aside a little bit of time for three evenings to make mint sugar scrub, lip balm, and Salzteig (salt dough ornaments; a bit of a childhood German tradition).

Mint sugar scrub:  recipe here
Lip balm: recipe here
Salzteig!  A mix of salt, flour, and water.

Some of these bubbled, so I’ll use them for our house.  I used twigs and pine needles to roll a print into them; couldn’t find cedar, but that would look really nice too.  Then I drilled some holes into them and put a hemp thread through.  I wrapped these in bubble wrap, which I brought back home after to reuse again for packing breakables around!  I used cookie cutters for the shapes; the moose was a special one for a special friend.

My family loved the gifts; they were unique, they were special, they had work and love put into them.  Just have to get a little creative!  It didn’t cost me a lot either, as I had most (if not all) the ingredients on hand!  It will be challenging to keep finding different gifts to make; it is another challenge to convince them to go gift-free (I think my mom’s on board, but we definitely need to work on my Oma)!

This is also a gift I made for my sister a while back because she was always complaining she doesn’t have cookie ingredients.  There are lots of “Gifts in a Jar” ideas out there:

Chocolate chip cookies in a jar.


  1. I love your ideas! I am hoping to create mini hampers next year for friends – filled with food and beauty products! It really shows creativity and thoughtfulness I think. I especially loved your cookie mix in a jar!


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