It isn’t really the last minute yet, and I would generally say that if you’re frantic for a last minute gift, DIY maybe isn’t the best way to go, but the idea behind today’s post is that these gift ideas are so simple to make that you can knock out a million of them at a time to hand out to every person you know- that’s helpful! On top of that, while these gift ideas are ordinary items, they suddenly become extraordinary when you’ve made and packaged them yourself. In that sense, these are all excellent for that quick-but-still-awesome-handmade-gift you might find yourself searching for, which was the prompt for this month’s Michaels Makers challenge centered around creative ideas to help with holiday stressors.
So yes, it’s a very exciting post today, and for me this has a lot to do with how it’s the first time I’m making these items after years of wanting to. We’re essentially crossing off bucket list items, guys. I know a lot of you have these on your list too and I promise, they’re easy. PLUS, your home will smell really, really good.
DIY Soy Candles
The one thing that’s really going to make these special is the container. Something reusable once the candle burns out will double as a long-lasting and extra beautiful gift.
Materials (everything purchased from Michaels unless otherwise noted/linked):
-soy wax flakes
-essential oil (I used Sandalwood and it smells amazing)
–wicks with clips
-wick centering tool
-hot glue gun
Step 1: Apply a small dab of hot glue at the bottom of the wick clip and stick it on to the bottom of the container. Use the wick centering tool to center the wick and hold it in place.
Step 2: Pour soy wax flakes into the candle pitcher and heat on stove top until melted. I used 5-6 cups for one candle. (Question- can this be done in the microwave? I tried microwaving the flakes in a mason jar in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, and yes, it works, but it’s harder to monitor the temperature this way. We don’t want the wax to get too hot. Be careful and use mitts when handling.)
Step 3: Once melted, let the wax cool for at least 15 minutes or until it just starts to thicken. (I poured my wax while it was still too hot and it warped and melted the wick and re-melted the hot glue below the wick so it detached from the bottom of the container and had weird cracks in it when it cooled. So, wait for it to cool!)
Step 4: Stir the essential oil into the wax. I used about 30 drops for one candle.
Step 5: Once wax has cooled, pour it into the container. Let the wax harden completely before cutting off the excess wick.
You can make soap in any scent or color you’d like, though I didn’t use any color dyes for mine. I chose lavender initially because once I saw the little bag of lavender pieces at Michaels, I thought it would look beautiful sprinkled into the soap. It’s also one of my favorite scents ever hey hey.
Step 1: Cut the soap into blocks and place into the heat safe container. I did four blocks at a time which makes about one bar of soap. I’ll explain why soon.
Step 2: Sprinkle a bit of lavender into each soap mold
Step 3: Microwave the soap for 30 seconds on high, then remove and stir the mixture. Continue heating the mixture in 10 second intervals with stirring in between, making sure not to overheat it or it WILL boil over (this is not a folk tale, it happened to me). It’s much easier to monitor this in small portions than it is to do one giant batch, which is why I recommend heating the amount of one bar of soap at a time.
Step 4: Stir in the lavender essential oil. I added about 15 drops per bar of soap.
Step 5: Let the soap cool a bit (less than 5 minutes) before pouring into the mold, or else if it’s too hot it will melt and warp the mold (why yes, this did happen to me). Be careful not to let it cool to the point where it thickens. You still want it to be a liquid texture so that it pours into the mold evenly.
Step 6: Let the soap cool for at least 40 minutes before popping them out of the mold.
Bonus: Wrap each soap in kraft paper and string to make them extra adorable.
DIY Lip Balm
This is the easiest one of them all and like the others, super customizable in terms of scent/flavor. Because the packaging is smaller, it really is possible to pump out a large number of these in no time.
-cheese grater (if your beeswax isn’t already in flakes)
–essential oil (I used lemon)
-mason jar/glass jar
Step 1: Grate the beeswax if it isn’t already in flakes/pellets.
Step 2: Add a 1:1 ratio of beeswax and coconut oil to your glass jar (I worked with 8 tbsp each at a time)
Step 3: Microwave the mixture in 20-30 second intervals until completely melted but not boiling.
Step 4: Stir in essential oil. I added about 15 drops.
Step 5: Pour into small containers and let cool at least overnight.
I really did make a million of everything, and it was a ton of fun pretending I was a soap/candle/lip balm factory for an afternoon. Last minute or not, any of these ideas are going to charm the recipient when you tell them you made it with love yourself.
Have you made any of these before? Any recipes/tips/tweaks you can recommend?
For more holiday hack topics and the unique ideas all of the makers came up with, check out the Michaels’ blog, The Glue String.