The Perfect Holiday Gifts Everyone Loves!
Since we are big bakers in my family, our friends, family, and neighbors are used to receiving our baked goods for every occasion. My girls brought cookies, cakes, and pastry to every school event. Somewhere along the line, we started cooking up bath concoctions instead of consumable goodies, and everyone loved them. For birthdays, teacher gifts, and parties, our treats were in high demand. But beware: When you start to give your loved ones your homemade products, they get hooked, and it is hard to keep up with the demand. People will expect these homemade products, and they won’t be shy about letting you know this when holidays, birthdays, and special events roll around.
Bath products make the perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list. Pick a theme, such as “stress-free holidays,” “beach paradise,” “flower bouquet,” or “Zen temple,” and make an array of products with a scent that matches your theme. Fill a basket with bath salts, scrubs, body oil, and fizzers. Give them all names. For the stress-reducing gift, you can call a product “Give Me a Break” or “Letting Go.” Attach cute stickers to the bottles and bags. (You can buy blank labels at any office-supply store.) Add a story about how you want to help your loved one survive holiday madness with your stress-reducing survival kit. There are countless themes, and you can change them every year. Everyone will be waiting to see what your new theme will be.
These custom treats also make wonderful wedding and holiday party favors. At Sumbody, we make custom products for the bride and groom to give out as favors on their wedding day. We have them tell us their favorite scents or what they love to use. For example, the bride might love vanilla and anything that is relaxing, while the groom loves mint and soaks to alleviate muscle tension. We then make products that combine both of their loves, such as vanilla-mint, stress-reducing body scrub and muscle-ache-relieving bath salts. We make tiny sizes, put together adorable gift sets, and write a story about how the bride and groom met and how this represents the beginning of their lives together. Everyone loves this. To the bride and groom, it is personal, special, and different. And guests love receiving something they can really use, something beyond the usual almond candy or bubbles. Brides will adore you. For party favors go with the theme of your event for both the product and the story you include.
Get creative with the packaging. You would be surprised to see what you can find close to home. Drugstores carry mason jars, which are wonderful for packaging, since everyone can reuse them (we drink out of them at my house). Craft stores, such as Michael’s, sell glass jars and fun wrapping supplies; Wal-Mart and cake-decorating stores have supplies for wrapping and filling. Health-food stores usually sell essential oils, or you can order them online. With a little looking, you can probably find what you need close to home.
Stress-Reducing Bath Salts
These salts take no time to make. You can make them in large amounts and store them for six months to a year, depending on whether or not you use olive oil. Olive oil makes the salts go from matte to shiny and adds moisture; leaving it out of the recipe greatly extends shelf life.
- 1 cup pure sea salt (rock or granulated), not table salt
- ½ cup Epsom salt (optional, to relieve muscle tension)
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 drop orange essential oil
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional—makes the salts go from matte to shiny, adds limited moisture)
- 1 teaspoon lavender petals (optional)
Pour all of the salt into a large bowl. You can use any combination of pure sea salts and Epsom salts you choose. There are more and more of these on the market these days, making it fun to experiment. Kosher salt is a standard rock salt that is easy to find and wonderful to use (not all kosher salt is sea salt; check the box). If you are adding olive oil, mix the essential oils with the olive oil, then add to the salts and mix by hand or with a spoon. Sprinkle in the lavender petals. Pour the salts into a clean jar with a lid, and keep closed until ready to use. Essential oils will lose their scent over time if not in closed glass or a PET plastic jar.
Use 2 or more tablespoons per bath.
The Ultimate Bathing Oil
- Avocado, apricot, grape seed, almond, coconut, and/or olive oils
- Red turkey oil (note: this is not an animal product)
- Essential oils of your choice
You can use any combination of the above oils. Avocado, apricot, and olive are richer; almond and coconut are lighter. Have fun finding a combination that works best for your skin. All these oils are so wonderful.
For every cup of oil, add 1/8 cup red turkey oil (this helps the oil suspend in your bathwater instead of only floating on top) and up to 10 drops of essential oils.
Please note: Using oils and butters in your bath makes surfaces slippery. Be careful when leaving your bath, and clean well after bathing.
Helpful hint: Keep baking soda near your bath and sprinkle it in after the water drains to absorb the excess oils; then wash the surfaces with soap.
Moisturizing Bath Fizzer
- 1 cup baking soda
- ¼ cup citric acid
- 1 tablespoon powdered milk
- 2 teaspoons cocoa butter
- 5–20 drops essential oils
In a glass or metal bowl, mix the baking soda and citric acid; add the powdered milk. Melt the cocoa butter in a microwave until just melted but not scalding hot. Be very careful—heated butters can burn the skin. If the butter is too hot, let it cool a bit before using. When it is still melted and warm, mix with the dry ingredients, using a spoon or your hands. Add the essential oils and mix. The mixture should start to “come together” and feel slightly sticky. If needed, spray a tiny amount of water into the mixture, and press firmly into a silicone muffin pan, ice cube trays or molds. Let it dry overnight, then turn out of the mold.
When choosing oils, remember that different oils have different properties; some, such as olive, apricot, and avocado, are heavier; pistachio, safflower, and canola are lighter. Choose a combination of oils that feel the best on your skin and are easily accessible.
For add-ins, be creative and have fun. You can use fresh milks, fruit purées, honey, vinegar, or champagne. The possibilities are unlimited.
- 1 cup sea salt or sugar
- enough oil to saturate the salt
- 10–15 drops of your favorite essential oils
- add-ins of your choice
In a medium-sized bowl, mix all the ingredients, using your hands, until well blended. If you use fresh ingredients, keep the mixture in a closed container in the refrigerator. Discard any unused scrub after a week. Without fresh ingredients, the scrub will last in a sealed container in your bathroom for approximately 3 to 6 months or until the oils go rancid. If you use fresh ingredients make sure to have your gift opened upon receipt and put on the label “keep refrigerated”.
Gentle Oat Face Cleanser for All Skin Types
- 1 tablespoon shredded coconut (optional)
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon powdered milk
- ¼ tablespoon almonds
Put the coconut, almonds and oats in a food processor and pulse until powdery but not paste. Put in a small bowl and add powdered milk, mix well. Use a dime-sized amount to cleanse your face.