When it comes to a great idea, humans are consummate plagiarists – because its SUCH a great idea! We save money (sometimes), we feel productive and gratified by the reminder of our own human creativity. We are now so busy with busy-ness and digital indoctrination, that we become our own creative roadblock. I’ll be honest. I approach Modern Christmas with procrastination! So much to buy, too much to want… So in the spirit of bah-humbug procrastination, I have decided that I have just enough in my world and my near and dear is getting all things home made. And – to further my point on digital – I’ve scoured the internet to showcase my ultimate 12 ways of Christmas-go-to last-minute handcrafting-without-being-chintzy-or-insultingly-cheap, in the name of genuine and heart-felt, home-made goodies to gift each other or enjoy yourself.
YEAS – these are dead easy recipes and ideas. It’s the only way I roll. Of course, I have adapted many of these for the sole purpose of individualizing them; but the foundations of the original ideas, I give to you to take and do what you like!
My Overnight Everything Balm. I swear by this balm and have used for YEARS. I originally adapted it form another blog (that I had to really fix) that is now gone. But I can attest to its overnight success. I have used my overnight balm on nearly everything including a diaper rash! Overnight, baby – GONE. Put this on chapped lips at night and its gone by morning.
This recipe from Native Soul Beauty is almost exactly the same as mine – the fixed version – minus the honey, and you can substitute the apricot kernel oil with whatever oil you want, like olive, more coconut, or almond. A word: Always buy organic product for this project. Sticky little fingers like to taste…
Baking Soda and Cornstarch EVERYWHERE: I thought baking soda and cornstarch was the cornerstone of all holistic hippy homemaking, but now – NOW – I know it. I found this recipe from Sugar Salted. We used cheap liquid food colouring to get that tie-dye effect. This was a bit messy, and you have to watch that pot, so it doesn’t burn. Took 48hrs to dry. Drove my husband crazy to be overrun by little starchy birds and shapes everywhere. In the end, we had gifts, window dressings and Christmas ornaments. We’re making more this year. If you want to hang these, make sure you put a hole in them while they are still soft!
Baking Soda Bath in a Jar. More baking soda! Courtesy of Arm & Hammer, you get a basic recipe. From there, you can switch it up and fill it with upgrades that suit your fancy – literally. Just look at these other links. If you have been dabbling in herbalism lite, meaning you’ve been indulging the internet for natural ideas (both fun and cautionary at the same time), this recipe is up your alley. And its SAFE. My children have sensitive skin, so when my mom told me BAKING SODA in her bath would fix her diaper rash, I was floored. For extra measure, I added chamomile tea and a little bit of epsom salt, and by bath’s end(always rinse), her skin was almost renewed. By morning, the rash was gone(used that overnight balm!). To boot, if you need to retire old canning jars, there is no love lost!
Laminate EVERYTHING! Last year, I found self-sealing lamination sleeves at the dollar store. Then they were gone. Luckily, Staples has them! Make sure to follow the directions. It will have a right and wrong side. I found that it has a much larger border gap when using self seal, and you have to make sure to go slow so you don’t end up with air pockets. But all in all, I’m not mad at it. Way cheaper than buying a laminator! And those art and crafts I have been overrun by from school? They are now on the Christmas tree or sandwiched in the pages of multiple books I am devouring at the moment.
Container Garden in a Roll: One of my favourite gifts to give for the ever curious gardener! As urbanites, a garden at any size will scratch that green itch without fail! Make sure you select vegetables or flower seeds that are specifically for containers. A good seed producer will tell you if the crop is a ‘dwarf’, generally meaning container. Don’t give old seeds! Germination rates dwindle with each year and you don’t want them thinking their brown thumb just went black! Each toilet paper roll fit 4 small coin envelopes. Imagine the garden they get using a paper towel roll! If you are not in love with the image (I’m not!), roll it in wrapping paper or cellophane and tie off in the ends with ribbon! A great project for the kids.
Lil’ Lites Lantern Jars. This is not an original idea – My daughter’s class made these and we added candles in them. It was so magical! The one on the left was done with translucent glue, while the one on the right was made with cornstarch mix. You’ll get a different effect depending on the glue, tissue colours, embellishments, etc. but we loved each one that we made. This utilizes any old jars that you don’t fee comfortable using for food anymore while making a great gift. You can put battery-operated tea lights or real tea lights or beeswax candles. We love the smell of honey in the house, so I personally get beeswax candles for the family. If you’re apprehensive about fire-jars and small children, try these solar fairy lights from Amazon.
Homemade Greeting card ornaments: By now I’m sure it’s quite clear that I’ve spent quite a bit time at the dollar store. It’s isles are rammed with notions and craft bits. I even found glass markers, linen card stock, and metallic foil sticky paper – what is going on here?! Crafting has been pretty sweet. And these cards are no exception. So of course, I indulge some more and add some twine or lace, so the receiver of the card can either leave it on a table or hang it on their tree. This is the time to finish off all the leftover sparkles and get rid of them!
Lil’ babes magnets: This is what the leftover card stock or the little stack of “designer paper” from the dollar store is. Michael’s had these for triple the price. Michael’s is a great place, but for an off-season, home-making-hobby-crafter, their prices make me feel bankrupt. These were SO easy! You can find all sorts of magnets with padded sticker backs at the dollar store! I have used photos, drawings, magazine cut-outs etc. and my refrigerator is decorated rather than cluttered. Although, clutter is an ongoing battle at my house – especially when seeds are being germinated! Half a dozen make a great little gift!
Almost Everything-Friendly, Dairy-free Hot Cocoa. I found this recipe just after my youngest was born and I couldn’t be happier. My hot cocoa mix was adapted from Amy Kay’s Kitchen. I have used this one year after year without a single problem! I used rich dark chocolate in my hot cocoa mix, and swapped out the corn starch for arrowroot powder for dietary issues. If you’re going to use bricks of cocoa in a blender, chip it down by hand and throw it in. Pulse on low-med until it starts to look fine but still loose. Let the chocolate cool from the motor, then add everything else and follow the directions. Once I made the mistake of running on high to force it to grind, but it just hardened into a warm brick of chocolate under the grinding teeth. So take your time. The best thing about this recipe is its versatility with the liquids of your choice. A splash of brandy was also a nice addition on a cold winter’s night!
Up-cycled Keepsake Ornaments Ever walk into a stationary store and notice how expensive their greeting cards are? Don’t hear me complain: those cards are SO cute! I’ve been gifted some cute cards over the years, and my smallest can’t bear to dispose of them. Some have gotten gnarly over the years so I’ve ditched some on garbage day while others, I have up-cycled for the tree. Not everything we make has to be for someone else. I picked up some decorative ornament hooks laced them through hole punches. This might be a real dud of a craft for you. But for the smaller kids, it’s a creative and stimulating activity to do with them. 4 out of 5 reindeer made it onto the tree. Seems like some pretty good odds to me!
“Leftover” jam/pickles Not a DIY, but a DIY because you made it in the summer(?)… But “ingenious”, if you made waaay too much jam this year. If it hasn’t gone past that 6 months mark, I make no qualms. If it teeters on the 6-7 months mark, maybe dress it up a little, so it doesn’t seem like you’re dumping off your ends… Lilac jelly, you make in May/June, so you know what I mean. I snagged some glass painting markers from (you know it!) the dollar store. Maybe personalize it and wrap it in some festive fabric…. I’ve never said no to jam or jellies or pickles. Never.
Raw Gingko Nuts. Nope. Not a DIY. BUT if you read over the details from my last fall adventure cleaning these like I’d frantically lost my mind, you know, this is not a long stretch from DIY, officially. Make sure they are raw and attach a little card (like the one I showed you above), and you’re set! Be sure your recipients are either foodies or familiar with ginkgo. Otherwise, it was a waste!
So this is my 12 ways of 2021, last minute cheap and cheerful semi-flawless list of DIY. If you do any of these, let me know how it goes! Kids can be an extra obstacle if you have small children. Some crafts will need mom or dad or auntie or uncle to start without interruption, like the cornstarch ornaments or the hot chocolate mix. The rest, I believe, depending on your level of perfectionism, are really great activities to occupy the kids, while making a stressful, albeit, wondrous season a warm one.
Thanks for coming back to read along my horticulture journey! This blog and website will be evolving quite a bit in the next few months, as I get ready and plan out next year’s seedlings for sale on Stripe. Here’s to hoping for a smooth transition! If you want to give me a leg up on this endeavour, send me a tip at the top right corner. I’m looking forward to building and growing as I have more to share with you in the coming months!
Next up: I will be getting ready for the spring garden plan. This means I turn into a semi-hibernating bookworm, and I give you my ultimate go-to reading list of resources on gardening, vegetables, herbs, soil, historical agriculture and the ritual of food and garden. So don’t be shy and follow me here! You can also find me on twitter: @homestadingish