The holiday season is fast approaching. Black Friday (or Thursday at some stores) ads are coming out. Tis the season for rampant consumerism.
But you can escape it as much as you choose. You can cut back on gift giving and receiving, or make some gifts yourself. Here are some green do it yourself gift ideas you may want to try with your family.
Homemade play dough is a great gift for the younger kids in a family. They go through play dough so fast, yet it’s really cheap and easy to make. My daughter’s preschool teacher makes a version using KoolAid, but you can color it with regular food coloring or even spices.
Here’s my basic, no cook recipe:
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tbs cream of tartar (optional but helpful)
1-1/2 cups hot water
3 tbs cooking oil
Mix dry ingredients together. Add oil. If you’re doing more than one color, separate into one container per color. Add food coloring to each container, then add hot water slowly, mixing until you get the right consistency.
If you add too much water to a batch, you can add a little more flour and/or salt to get the texture right. This recipe doesn’t require a lot of precision.
Seal each color into a container. Some people refrigerate it to help it last longer, but that’s not 100% necessary. The play dough at the preschool is never refrigerated and lasts a month or more, with near daily use.
This is a nice idea for kids to give. It’s budget friendly and personal. Smooth rocks are easiest to paint, of course. Use a good quality, low VOC paint if at all possible.
I love making homemade truffles. My favorite is the pomegranate truffle – it’s just amazing and easy to make as these things go – just two ingredients!
There are ingredients for all kinds of truffles online. Be aware that homemade truffles are best off kept in the refrigerator.
Origami Cash Gifts
If you just don’t know what else to give, cash can be a good gift. You don’t have to be completely boring just because you’re giving cash, however. You can fold it into origami. Your gift will be a little more memorable this way.
For the person in your life who likes to cook, make some infused oils. It’s not terribly complex, although you do need to plan enough ahead that the flavors infuse into the oil. Most take a week or two to really get into the oil. You can find good instructions at theKitchn.
Another nice gift for cooks. Once again, plan ahead so the vanilla flavor really develops in the extract. Matter of fact, you probably want to start now on this one, as it takes about six weeks to make a basic vanilla extract, and months if you want it be be still better.
All you need is vodka, vanilla beans and some jars or bottle. Dark glass is best to avoid sun exposure. Split the beans lengthwise, put into the vodka, and let it sit. Some sites say to shake it once a week, other sites don’t. You can leave the beans in and keep topping off the vodka in whichever bottle you keep for yourself.
Bath bombs are kind of pricey if you buy them, but really easy to make at home. I did this once with my daughter, and the one lesson I will share is don’t do this on a really humid day. The bath bombs weren’t ruined or anything, but they looked a little puffy after a short time out of the molds, and I think that was due to humidity. It may also have been that they weren’t completely dry when we popped them out of the molds.
There are homemade bath bomb recipes all over the internet. Common ingredients include citric acid, Epsom salts, baking soda, food coloring and essential oils. Some also use cocoa butter, shea butter or coconut oil.
There’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to ingredients. The citric acid and baking soda are what cause the fizzing by reacting with each other in water. Pretty much any other ingredient is up to you, just make sure you aren’t getting the citric acid and baking soda wet enough to cause much reaction.
Homemade Stuffed Toys
I’m working on this one now, making giant stuffed toy snakes for my kids. They’ve heard about the one I had when I was a kid, but I just can’t find anything that compares now, so homemade will have to do. I bought fabric for mine, but if you can repurpose material from stuff you have around the house if you like.
You can use stuffing from old pillows if you like, or buy new. My snakes will be getting mostly new because, quite frankly I don’t have that many old pillows around.
Eyes can be stitching, old buttons or you can buy plastic safety eyes for toys. Just think about your child’s age when adding eyes. Buttons aren’t a very good choice for very young children who might pull them off and put them in their mouths.
Earring Holder Frame
My oldest daughter loves her earrings. She has an earring holder, but it has long since filled up. Not that this stops her from wanting more earrings, of course. An earring holder made from a picture frame and either lace or screen makes a lot more sense, since it’s more flexible as to where you put each pair of earrings.
An earring holder made from window screen material and a picture frame is very simple to make. Find a frame about the right size without glass. Use a staple gun to attach the screen, stretching the screen material tight as you go. Cut any excess screen off the outer edges. You can do this with anything that has holes big enough for you to hang the earrings.
The problem with a plain screen earring holder frame is that you can’t hang it on the wall and use it for post earrings. Works great for hooks, but if you need to put the earring back on, it just doesn’t work. I saw a great post at H Is For Handmade where they used strips of lace across the frame so that post earrings can hang as well, without taking the whole frame off the wall. It’s a great twist on the frame idea.
Don’t forget to wrap your gifts in eco friendly ways too. I’ve written about eco friendly gift wrap ideas in the past.