How To, Seasonal

Handmade Gifts

Gifts are extra special when you can make them yourself, and I love the craftsmanship that Holly Wright puts into her products at Ranch House Crafts .  She’s put together some ideas for you to try – or if you’re on the go like me, place your order and she’ll do the work to make you look good! – Ty

I love Christmas!  The smell of the tree, warm cookies baking in the oven, and I love the sound of laughter from family and friends while Christmas carols play in the background. But above all of this, I love the tradition of gift giving!! Each year I try and think of new and unique ways to let my loved ones know how much they mean to me and this year, I’ve made sure there is a handmade gift for everyone on my list. The secret is to keep it simple and usable. Here are a few of my favorite go-to gift ideas.

Homemade Sugar Scrub

photo: brooke lark

Who doesn’t want silky smooth skin that smells wonderful? The best thing about this delicious sugar scrub is how easy and customizable it is.

Here’s what you will need – I’ve included links to the supplies if you need them:

  • Mixing bowl
  • A 4oz wide mouth jar of your choice – you can order yours in clear or amber
  • 1 cup or so of sugar – I use unbleached and organic
  • ¼ cup organic coconut oil (the solid kind)
  • Organic Essential oils of your choice –I like Lavender or Sweet Orange.
  • Flowers and Herbs- Lavender buds or dried orange peel add a great visual touch.

Put the desired amount of sugar in a bowl and add a few tablespoons of coconut oil. Mix with a fork – or a gloved hand which I find much easier! Add more coconut oil as needed, but don’t add too much oil because it can quickly become too greasy. Add a few drops of the essential oils (to your preference) and mix well. If you are adding herbs or flowers, wait to add those at the end. Spoon the mixture your jar and decorate with ribbons, flowers, and a gift tag – or even fresh sprig of pine!

Scented Soaps

photo: paul gaudriault

Homemade soaps are great because you can make a batch and have them on hand for a great host or hostess gift.  And everyone seems to love the personal and great smelling gesture.  You can find a lot of scent ideas online or go with it and create your own. I love this idea because it can be customized so many ways.  Add oatmeal for sensitive skin or for a gentle scrub – maybe even something grittier like coffee for a gardening soap option.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Soap base –  I like goat’s milk but you can use shea butter, oatmeal, or a base of your choice.
  • Organic essential oils
  • Flowers or Herbs
  • Microwavable Bowl
  • Ladle for filling molds
  • Rubbing alcohol in fine mist bottle – if you don’t have one, they are found online or in the travel section of a store
  • Soap mold  – I prefer the silicone molds for easy removal;  you can also line a pan with wax paper if you don’t have a mold and cut bars out when it’s dry
photo: kristina balic

These are so easy! Having all of your oils, flowers, and herbs ready ahead of time is of the essence here. All that you have to do is cut the base melt into ½” cubes, microwave for 30 seconds, and stir. Continue to heat at 15-second intervals, stirring between, until fully melted. Add your desired essential oils, flowers and herbs and pour into your molds. If bubbles appear on the surface, spritz some of the rubbing alcohol on top. Allow drying for a couple of hours before taking out of molds. There are so many fun ways to package these. You can use gift bags, baskets, or tie onto a folded washcloth!  Often I make up a little spa basket and gift these with other items that the recipient loves – maybe a bottle of wine and candle.  You can customize it depending on their preference.

Pinecone Fire Starters

photo: annie spratt

These are great for the so many people in your life, including campers or people who love the outdoors, friends with a fire pit, or of course for that someone who loves to sit by their own fireplace! Pinecone fire starters are a great way to start fires without having to fuss over it. And if you have access to a pine tree, the ingredients are free!

To get that fire cracklin’, you’ll need:

  • Medium to large-sized pinecones – make sure that they are open and dry
  • Paraffin wax
  • Candlewick
  • Something to melt the wax in – I use my Frydaddy but you can use a double boiler
  • Wax paper

Prep your pinecones by wrapping the candle wick several times around your pinecone. Cut off at just a couple of inches above tip. Now break the wax block into smaller pieces and start to get it melted. I break my wax block into smaller pieces. I just throw it down on the concrete at an angle to break it. Put it in the warmer (if using FryDaddy like m, I put it on high). Once it melts, turn the heat off.  Now you will dip your pinecones down into wax. Completely submerge including about an inch of the wick. Let them dry on wax paper, or if you have a drying rack like bakers use. Once your wax cools enough to see a build up around the edge, dip pinecones again, this time the wax will build up, even more, making icicles off the edges of the pinecones.

Once dried they are ready to use. Just pop in the fireplace on its side, light the wick, and pile your kindling and wood around it. You’ve now started a fire – easy peasy!!

photo: holly wright

I hope you will try out homemade gift giving this year, and I hope it brings you the joy and fun time creating memories together as it does with me and my family! From ours to yours…Merry Christmas! – Holly

If you don’t have time to make your own gifts this year, give Holly a ring at her company Ranch House Crafts to have her help you out!


Ty Pennington

Ty Pennington is best known as the Emmy-award winning host of "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" and as the co-host of ABC Daytime's "The Revolution." He has been recognized as a home design expert, carpenter and leader in the field of volunteerism. is a space to share his inspiration, design tips, daily musings and more. Ty can currently be seen on TLC's Trading Spaces.

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