No money, no problems

The time for holiday gift-giving will be here before you know it. Chances are your family and friends are tired of getting festive pajamas every year. Instead of spending a bunch of money on gifts that will be under appreciated and quickly forgotten, try out one of these easy DIY ideas for holiday gifts that will make both giver and recipient feel a little cheerier. They’re cheap, useful and way more meaningful than buying some plastic crap at a box store.

Exfoliating and moisturizing salt and sugar scrub

This scrub is a natural way to beat wintery dry skin. Instruct the recipient to rub into hands, elbows, knees and feet, and rinse. This will exfoliate dry skin and leave it with long lasting moisture.

What you’ll need:

  • Mason jars
  • 3/4 cup coarse sea salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar or raw sugar
  • 16 drops essential oil of your choosing—I like lavender and eucalyptus
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almond, avocado or grapeseed oil

Step 1: Warm coconut oil on low in a sauce pan until it turns to liquid.

Step 2: While coconut oil is melting, mix salt, sugar and essential oil drops. You can use less or more drops depending on how aromatic you’d like your scrub to be.

Step 3: Remove coconut oil from heat after it’s melted. Slowly mix coconut oil into your dry mixture. Slowly add remaining oils. Let mixture cool. The scrub will thicken as the coconut oil cools.

Step 4: Scoop scrub into your mason jars.

Aromatherapy hot/cold pillows

Aromatherapy pillows are great gifts for children and adults. These versatile scented pillows can be heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer for aromatherapy and muscle rejuvenation and relaxation.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 yards of soft cotton or other non-synthetic fabric
  • 1 pound bag of rice
  • 1/2 ounce of dried herbs of your choosing—I like lavender and chamomile
  • A few drops of essential oils of your choosing—I like tea tree and eucalyptus. You can also try cinnamon and nutmeg for a nostalgic scent
  • Sewing machine, or needle and thread

Step 1: Cut out four 9 inch by 12 inch rectangles from your fabric.

Sew two of the rectangles together on three edges. If you are using a needle and thread, you’ll need to be very careful to make small stitches that grains of rice won’t be able to squeeze through. It’s a good idea to sew around the edges twice. Repeat this with your remaining two rectangles.

Step 2: Pour rice into a bowl, mix dried herbs and a few drops of essential oils in with the rice. After the rice is mixed and smells strong enough to your liking, pour the contents into one of your sewn squares.

Step 3: Sew up the fourth side of the rectangle. Again, being very careful to make the stitches small enough that the rice won’t fall out.

Set the rice filled square inside the remaining square. Sew up the fourth side. Double layering the squares will ensure the rice inside is secure from spillage.

After you’ve made your aromatherapy pillow, try toss it in the microwave for one minute for a warm muscle relaxant, or freeze it overnight for a soothing ice pack.

Hint: If you’re up for more of a sewing challenge, it’s also fun to pick out patterns and sew these into animal shapes. I used a pattern to make an aromatherapy “Scrappy the Penguin.”

No-knit scarf

This scarf requires no knitting and only a touch of hand sewing. Wow your family and friends with this warm and special gift.

What you’ll need:

  • A large skein of yarn
  • Leather scraps
  • Large needle and thread
  • Awl or ice pick

Step 1: Cut a 3 inch piece of yarn and save for later. Set two chairs side by side and tie one end of your roll of yarn to the top of the chair. Wrap the entire roll of yarn tightly around the top of both chairs. This makes what is called a hank of yarn.

Step 2: After you’ve rolled out all the yarn, untie the loose end. While holding the loose ends, pull the entire roll of yarn off the chairs, and twist it about three times. Next, lay the yarn flat on a table and tie loose ends to each other.

Using the 3 inch piece of yarn you first cut, tie a knot around the third section of the hank, creating three even sections.

Step 3: Cut three rectangular pieces of leather, about 2 inches by 4 inches. Using your awl or ice pick, poke evenly spaced holes in each of the long edges of your leather pieces.

Step 4: Line up the leather piece with one of the tied sections on your yarn hank. Using a thick thread or embroidery floss, sew the edges of the leather pieces together, creating a band around the scarf. Repeat this with your remaining two leather pieces, corresponding with the three sections you created with your scarf.

Now you have a unique scarf to keep a friend’s neck warm for the holidays!

Chalkboard coasters

This project requires very little time or skill. This set of coasters can be decorated for any theme. They are a great way to personalize place settings and keep track of people’s drinks at a holiday party.

What you’ll need:

  • Set of 4–6 plain ceramic tiles
  • Chalkboard spray paint
  • 8.5 inch by 11 inch thin sheet of cork board
  • Hot glue gun
  • Old newspaper

Step 1: Lay old newspaper in the garage or somewhere outside that will stay dry for up to 24 hours. Lay your ceramic tiles on the newspaper and spray the top side and edges of the tiles with your chalkboard paint, following the instructions on the paint can. Let the tiles dry for a few hours. After the top has dried, return to flip them over and paint the back side. Let dry. Repeat if a second coat seems necessary.

Step 2: While your tiles are drying, use your sheet of cork board to cut out one centimeter circles or squares. You should cut enough so you have four pieces for every tile. When the tiles are dry, hot glue the cork pieces to the bottom of the tiles in order to protect the bottom surface.

Hint: Some craft stores sell these little self-sticking cork protector pads.

Voila! You have a fun set of coasters for your friends’ coffee table.