For years, I've been trying to convince my siblings that we should make all our holiday prezzies, but I get shot down every time. The reason? They either say I'm the only crafty one in the family and they have no idea how to make stuff from scratch (so untrue), or they say they're short on time.
In the end we just go the 'buy nothing' route, which scores us enviro bonus points. But come on, isn't it nice to receive a little homemade something or other, even if it took the person five minutes?
JAVA BODY SCRUB
Seriously, this one takes, like, four minutes to do and smells so friggin' good you'll want to eat it when you're done. Mix 1/2 cup coffee grounds, 11/2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups oil (I used a blend of organic coconut oil and nourishing grapeseed oil) and a healthy splash of vanilla. Now pour it in a glass jar, tie some twine or scrap ribbon around it (we got these from Mokuba , 575 Queen West, 416-504-5358) and voila. A very pretty prezzy that'll keep your pals lookin' and smellin' good. Note: make right before you give so it'll be fresh.
Every household needs a good box to store its, um, stationery. But why waste a chance at originality when you can snag an old cigar box from a junk shop, then cut-and-paste on a pulp fiction cover, a retro album sleeve or, in our case, a show tune song book ?
UNWIND YOUR MIND EYE PILLOW
Anyone who got through home ec can get through this. All you have to do is sew together two rectangular-shaped scraps of an old blouse or any silky fabric you have kicking around (9-by-5 inches is a good size). (Or, if you're really lazy, just glue the edges together with non-toxic fabric glue.) Make sure to leave a 2-inch hole on one end. When you're done, flip the pillowcase inside out, shove about 2 cups rice and 1/2 cup soothing dried lavender (I got mine for $2 at Thuna's on the Danforth) in the hole. Sew or glue up the hole. You can jazz it up by gluing some patches on the front. Or not. Now lie back and test it out.
Poinsettas are so passé, and cut flowers die within days. Why not give the gift of an all-natural air purifier (like, say, peace lilies) or cute flowering plants -- like these mini pincushions ; both from Bill's Garden Centre (903 Pape, 416-466-8283). But make them look way more thoughtful (and DIYish) by transferring them to some funky container you dug out from your grandma's basement or an antique shop, like this faded blue caddy from Uppity (1124 Queen East, 647-436-0661) or painted wooden container from Winkel (1107 Queen East, 416-465-4247). Kettles, boots and even hollowed-out typewriters make funky urns.
BEADS YOU CAN READ
You've probably spotted those cool fair-trade beads or bowls made from used newspapers and magazines. Okay, so you might not be up to whipping coasters together with yesterday's news, but if you just cut long, narrow triangular strips from any magazine and roll them around a toothpick, add a dab of glue, presto -- you've got yourself some free necklace material! Can be done during one episode of Dancing With The Stars or whatever schlock you like.