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DIY Christmas Gifts

Receiving gifts is a lot more fun than giving gifts when you are on a college budget. You can always get your mom another candle, and buy your dad another tie. And I guess you could re-gift that Starbucks gift card you got from your roommate. Or, you can check out these DIY gift ideas! Cheap, easy and much more thoughtful knowing you took the time to make it. 

Homemade Scrub

What you need:

Coconut oil


Oil extract to scent your scrub (peppermint was used in this example)

Food coloring for a touch of color (optional)



1.     At room temperature coconut oil is solid, so put it in the microwave until its softened (15-25 seconds).

2.     Add the sugar, the scented oil extract and the food coloring! You can make your scrub with your desired ratio of ingredients.

3.     If it is too dry, add more coconut oil. If it is too wet, add more sugar.

4.     When you are done you can put the scrub in any container you would like, this example used mason jars but it is up to you so get creative!

Gifts In A Jar

This one is super easy and can be given to just about anyone! All you need is a decently large jar that can be found at your local Walmart and then your preferred “ingredients.” For your dad, you can do a football-themed jar containing game day snacks like chips and dip, a hat or t-shirt of his team, his favorite beer…the options are endless! For your mom you can try a mani/pedi themed jar including foot scrub, lotion, nail polish, a nail file, etc. You can even try this gift idea for your girlfriends by filling a jar with a scarf, a Starbucks gift card, her favorite chocolate and maybe a cute beanie. You can get as creative as you want with this one!

Lighted Quote Canvas

What you need:

Canvas (size of your choice)

100 mini-lights

Something sharp for making holes (scissors)

Sharpie (color(s) of your choice)

Stencil or sticker of your preferred word or phrase (Can be found at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby)

Any other added accessories of your choice



1.     Pick your message and decide on the placement on your canvas.

2.     Once it is placed you can decorate the canvas however you would like!

3.     Once that is finished, you will begin to puncture holes into the canvas wherever you choose (the canvas in this example chose to light up the snowflakes).

4.     After, you will push the mini lights into these holes.

5.     Plug it in and you are all done!

Fizzy Bath Bombs

What you need:

1-cup citric acid

1-cup baking soda

½ cornstarch

½ cup oil (almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.)

8-10 drops of your preferred essential oil(s)

Silicone mold or saran wrap



1.     Put the oil, citric acid, baking soda, cornstarch and essential oil in a glass or bowl.

2.     Mix well with your hands until a soft dough is formed (like damp sand). This would be the time to add dried herbs, flowers or food coloring!

3.     Form the mix in a silicone mold or wrap into a ball shape. Place it in saran wrap and let it sit for 24 hours before removing it from the mold.

4.     Once they are completely dried, they are ready to use!

Candy Cane Vodka

As long as the receiver is 21 of course…perfect for your crazy cousins, your girlfriends or even a white elephant gift.


What you need:

Candy cane

Mason jar


Ribbon or decorations to add to the Mason jar once complete



1.     Put a cup of candy cane into the Mason jar, you may have to break them up into pieces if they don’t fit!

2.     Fill the jar with vodka and let it sit for two days.

3.     And there you have it! Candy cane flavored vodka.

Garlic Infused Olive Oil

This is a great idea for your parents, or even aunts and uncles. I mean, who doesn’t like olive oil? And this one is garlic infused, even better.


What you need:

½ to ¾ cup whole, peeled garlic cloves

Juice from ¼ lime

1 to 2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 4-oz glass bottles with cork



1.     Put the cloves in a bowl with the lime juice. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes.

2.     Preheat oven to 325 F.

3.     Reserving the juice for later, drain the lime juice from the cloves.

4.    Spread out the garlic cloves in one layer in a small baking dish.

5.     Pour enough olive oil over the garlic so that the cloves are completely immersed.

6.     Remove from the oven and let cool. Cloves will darken as they cool. Scoop the cloves from the oil into a bowl using a slotted spoon.

7.     Pack garlic cloves in an airtight container.

8.     Pour enough of the oil over the roasted cloves to cover. Refrigerate until you need to use roasted garlic in other recipes (I like it smeared on bread).

8.     Strain the remaining oil into your (clean, sterilized) glass bottle and use as garlic infused olive oil.


Scented Heating Pad

What you need:

Fabric of your choice, something comfortable

Rice (uncooked)

Essential Oil(s)


Sewing supplies

A spoon and a bowl



1.     Cut fabric into two squares of equal size. The size is your preference!

2.     Stack the fabric squares on top of each other with the print side facing in.

3.     Carefully sew around the edges leaving a small hole of about two inches.

4.     Turn the fabric inside out so that the print is now on the outside.

5.     Put the rice into a bowl and add desired essential oil(s). The amount of rice depends on the size of your heating pad and the amount of oil depends on your preference.

6.     Fill the bag with scented rice mixture. Fill it to where it’s almost full, but leave enough fabric so you can sew it closed.

7.     Sew the bag closed.

8.     Pop it in the microwave using 20-second increments until it is heated to your liking, but be careful because this bag can get HOT!

Mason Jar Candles

What you need:

Mason jars



Essential Oil(s)



1.     Heat the wax in the microwave until melted (for color add a grated up crayon when melting the wax).

2.     Add desired scents.

3.     Set the wick by putting a bit of wax on the bottom and sticking it to the bottom of the jar (set the wick by using a pencil or chopstick to keep it in place).

4.     Pour wax into the jar to your desired depth.

5.     Let the wax dry.

6.     Once it is completely dry, you may need to add a little more.

7.     Lastly, cut the wicks down to your preferred height and decorate the jar to your liking!

Photo Coasters

These are great for older people in the family, especially grandma and grandpa. You know there is nothing that they love more than pictures of their grandkids!


What you need:

Ceramic tiles (can be found at Lowe’s or local hardware stores)

4×6 photos of your choice

Felt or fleece for bottom of coaster

Foam paintbrushes

Mod Podge

Clear acrylic gloss coating spray

Craft paint in a white color similar to ceramic tiles

Hot glue gun



1.     Paint the rough, unfinished side edges of the coasters and be sure to let them dry completely.

2.     Trim your photos to fit onto the coasters.

3.     Apply Mod Podge to the back of the photo with a foam paintbrush and press it onto the tile. Keep in mind it is important to let every layer dry completely.

4.     Once dry, apply a layer of Mod Podge with a sponge applicator to the top of the photo. Use even left-to-right strokes. As always with Mod Podge, lines will show. Let dry completely.

5.     Repeat with two more layers of Mod Podge.

6.     Once they are COMPLETELY dry take them outside to be sprayed with the acrylic coating spray.

7.     Lay coasters on wax paper or anything else you do not mind getting sprayed over.

8.     The acrylic spray is most important because it ensures your coasters will be waterproof, and it is suggested that you do five separate coats of it.

9.     Now it is time to add the felt or fleece to the bottom of the coaster using the hot glue gun!

10.  Once that is complete, decorate with ribbon for the perfect gift!


I hope these DIY gifts will make your holiday a bit more enjoyable and a lot less stressful. These are only a few ideas that I thought would be great gifts but check out Pinterest for even more ideas!

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Danielle Farrow

Illinois State

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