Gifts from the heart
There are many great reasons to make your own holiday gifts: you can give each present a personal touch, have some fun and, often, save a little money. Many small, thoughtful presents take just an hour or two to craft, so make this holiday season special with gifts from the heart.
1 Super scrapbooks
Years ago, Gina Tierney of Ottawa, Ont., gave each member of her family a scrapbook with removable pages. Each year, she makes extra prints of family snapshots and creates unique new scrapbook pages for each person. "No one gets the same picture, so we have a great time looking at the photos and reminiscing about all the adventures we had throughout the year," says Gina.
2 Clever candles
Glue a string of beads in a spiral along the sides of a candle, using non-flammable glue. Be sure not to put your decoration too close to the wick.
3 Beautiful bath salts
Measure out enough Epsom salts to fill half a clean glass bottle; pour into glass or stainless-steel bowl. Next, mix in soap fragrance and colour (available at most craft stores) until the concentration pleases you. Repeat the process, then fill the bottle and add a pretty ribbon. "It's not only really easy, but it's something you can get your kids involved with as well," says Yvonne Jeffery of Calgary, AB, and author of The Everything Fix-It Book.
4 Holiday hostess gift
Make a simple centrepiece for your hostess' hallway or dining room table by trimming some thin pine boughs from your Christmas tree (or a tree in your yard) and arranging them in a festive vase. Hang tiny ornaments from the boughs, advises Carol-Lynne Saad of Ottawa, Ont., then tie a holly sprig around the neck of the vase.
5 Pretty pinecones
Gather pinecones from your yard and gild them with gold spray paint, to adorn wreaths, trees or wrapped parcels.
6 Vinegars with verve
Thoroughly sterilize old glass bottles with boiling water, then heat them in a 220-degree F oven for 10 minutes. When they're completely cool, put two or three stems of dried herbs (basil, oregano, coriander and thyme work well) and a couple of peppercorns into each bottle, and fill the bottles with white vinegar. Seal the bottles with corks or their existing lids, and decorate with a beautiful tag. Herbal vinegars "are the easiest things in the world, look gorgeous, are cheap to make and take very little time," says Candice Vetter of Russell, Ont., who began making them several years ago.