We're only giving homemade gifts this year. It really has nothing to do with the "economic downturn", "recession", or the bleak state of our nation's economy. It's more about our own personal scaling back, a hearkening (don't you love that word?) to a simpler time, or a goal in our family to focus less on material goods and more on personal experiences and the time we share with those we love.
I've been collecting craft ideas, with a special focus on using things that we already have or that use recycled products, in my Christmas folder. My Christmas folder is an organizational secret I've been using for years. In it are craft ideas, to do lists, secret present lists and pictures/sources of the gifts for Young One, and the return envelopes from all of the Christmas cards we receive (makes it easy if we can't find someones address or if we have a new addition to our list.) I rip up magazines all year, pulling out intriguing recipes, crafts, and gift ideas. Or I print ideas and recipes from the internet. There are many wonderful bloggers out there that are filled with great, simple ideas.
On a side note, I use and reuse Young One's old school folders for years, basically until they fall apart. This is another cheapskate tendency. I just can't bear to throw them away, so I have spaceship folders, Garfield (from a shortlived stage), and sports themed folders everywhere! I keep one in my car filled with restaurant coupons for those times when we're out and about and just can't decide on where to go to grab a bite to eat. I also keep my gas coupons, car wash coupons, and any freebie or discount offers that I might want to pick up while errand running.
Each Christmas gift that we're making this year has been carefully and thoughtfully chosen for it's recipient. Today, I made these Bath Bombs for some very special women in my life (who happen to know NOTHING about this blog, tee hee). Bath bombs, bath fizzies, if you don't know what they are, are these fun, scented fizzy thingies (technical term) that you place in your bath to fizz and scent the water deliciously. They also soften your skin beautifully. I had most of the ingredients in the house already, so this one went together very quickly!
You can find citric acid at your local health food store, at a wine making supply store, or online at Bulk Foods. Organic cane sugar (turbinado sugar) is found at your local grocery store. Read the entire recipe before starting! You must be very careful how much water you add. Trust me, I learned this the hard way and gave Young One the ones that bubbled over and out of the molds because they were too damp. He loved playing with them and smelled like a lime for a day. Very little water is the key. Use just enough to make it clump together.
1/2 cup citric acid
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
About 6 drops of food coloring
10 to 15 drops of essential oil
equipment: a small spray bottle, ice cube trays, storage jars for gift giving
Stir together citric acid, baking soda, and cornstarch. Sift through a fine sieve or a flour sifter. Stir in sugar. Place a very small amount of water in the spray bottle. Add food coloring--try to match the color to the essential oil that you're using. I used a very small amount of green to match the lime essential oil that I used. Spritz the dry mixture lightly, it should be damp, but not fizzing. Mix with a metal spoon and spritz and mix until mixture clumps together. Add essential oil until strength of scent is to your liking. Continue mixing until scent is well dispersed. If mixture no longer clumps, spritz with more water and mix well. Pack firmly into ice cube tray, pressing firmly. Let dry at room temperature overnight. Pop out of trays gently and pack in jars. Label with instructions to add 2 to each bath to enjoy effervescent relaxation.
You could use candy molds or when I was making the last batch, I decided that packing them into a cookie scoop would be the easiest way to do it. Just pack firmly, pressing down on the mixture if you can, then pop out. I'll try this next time.
I'll share more of my Christmas gift making as time goes on. Print them and file away in your new Christmas folder. Did I inspired you to start one? I truly hope that you are simplifying your gift giving this year too. I figure, if we cut back, we can help others more this season. No, I'm not talking about making sure that other people can buy presents or get presents, like with Toys for Tots (although this organization does do wonderful things). I'd rather be able to give to the very poor. Those that are hungry or homeless. I feel their need is greater this year and because of our country's financial situation, there are probably greater numbers in need.
Peace to you!