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My Homemade Christmas

I have this little problem where it is almost impossible for me to buy a gift for someone. ‘Buy’ being the key word. I just can’t bring myself to go to the store and pick a gift off the shelf. Even if the person has specifically asked for it!

I know – it sounds crazy, right? I’m not sure whether it is because I am always looking for ways to save money, because I feel like it is impersonal, or because I really enjoy crafting. But I almost always find myself making homemade gifts.

The result is that almost every Christmas, recipients get a homemade gift. Some years are definitely better than others. The year I decided to knit everyone something was not such a good idea. Not only did I spend WAY too many hours doing it, but I learned that it is best to just knit things for people who ask for it. It is a lot of time to spend on something that someone might never wear.

But, anyway, this year’s gift giving was no different. I got the ideas for this year’s gifts as I started to focus more on living healthier. And not just food, but in cleaning products and skin products. Seriously – have you ever read the back of those things? If you have a bottle of lotion handy – go look at the back. I couldn’t believe the long list of things I couldn’t pronounce that were in it! All those things are going into my body, my children’s bodies.

I started to see online ‘recipes’ for making my own products. Recipes that just included a couple, natural ingredients. They looked so simple and after lots of reading, I couldn’t wait to try some of them.

So, what did I make for Christmas this year? I made laundry detergent, lotion, & lip balm. Here’s the rundown.  (Click on each item title for the link with the recipe!)

Laundry Detergent – we’ve been using this for about a year and really love it! It works great, and is sooo much cheaper than regular laundry detergent. I have a family of six, and one recipe makes about a years worth of detergent. And, the best part – it costs about $15 TOTAL! (note: I used a bottle of purex crystals for a light scent and as a softener.  But if I had Wild Orange essential oil, I would have used that instead!).
homemade laundry detergent


Body Lotion (or Body Butter) – I made it for myself about a month before Christmas to try it out.  And, I have to say I really enjoyed using it!  It seems a little greasy at first, but it quickly absorbs into your skin.  It uses shea butter, which is great for your skin, and I added some On Guard essential oil which makes it smell great, but is also antibacterial.

homemade body lotion


Next is lip balm.  I was surprised at how easy this was to make also – just a couple ingredients and I was able to fill a whole bunch of little containers.  The only thing with this is, it does harden when it’s cold.  So, you have to rub your finger around a few times to soften it.  I can’t remember which essential oils I added to these, but the possibilities are endless (think wild orange, peppermint, lavender!).

homemade lip balm


I also made a hot chocolate mix.   I’m not in love with it, because I couldn’t find a recipe in the powdered form that didn’t use powdered milk, but it is sure better than the stuff in the store bought mixes!   My kids really liked it too!

homemade hot chocolate kit


And, last but not least, not all of my ideas work.  I had this great idea to do that pinterest craft where you write on a white mug with sharpies, and bake it in the oven…it is supposed to ‘set’ the marker so it won’t come off.  Well, you would think I would have actually tested that theory before I gave them as gifts.  But, no – I suppose I’m a little to trusting of pinterest.   The sweet mugs that my children decorated for family members are sadly not usable because the marker will come right off when rubbed.    Oh well, I wasn’t too torn up about it – they were dollar store mugs after all, and it is the thought that counts, right?  :)

homemade coffee mug ideas

So, there you have it!  Overall, this year’s homemade Christmas gifts worked out pretty well if I do say so myself. :)   I learned a lot and now have recipes that I can continually use.  Was it easier than buying gifts off the shelf?  Heck, no!  As much as I tried to simplify, it was much more time consuming.  But, this homemade gift thing is a sickness I have…so, I might as well accept it and start thinking about next Christmas!

Leah - January 12, 2014 - 1:49 pm

Nice Bonnie!! I too make a lot of home made gifts. The only ones I buy are for my kiddoes. People just seem to like them more! Just a tip – if you want to try the mug thing again, buy markers specifically made (deco color is one brand) for this type of thing. You still bake it, but it will NEVER rub off. Love your blog!

Kathleen - January 12, 2014 - 10:55 pm

Great ideas! Love the custom labels–did you make those? Are they waterproof?

Rebekah Garber - January 19, 2014 - 9:45 pm

I love the laundry detergent!! Can I sign up for another one soon?? :)

cbportraits - January 20, 2014 - 3:46 pm

Thanks! Yes, I did make them, but they aren’t waterproof. :)

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