At this point in my life, time is far more valuable to me than money. Time is my most precious commodity. In between homeschooling and housekeeping and being a wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and friend, it seems that there is never enough of my time to go around. In general, if something saves me money, but costs me more time, I’d rather pay more. I’m the person who passes by the crowded gas station with the cheapest gas in favor of the place across the street that’s charging 10 cents more per gallon. Why? Because it is TEN FRIGGIN’ CENTS. That’s less than $2 more to save me a minimum of ten minutes. Being that my time is worth more to me than $10/hour, I will gladly pay more, thankyouverymuch. That much being said, it only seems appropriate that when I give a gift, it should be purchased with my most valuable asset: the gift of my time. So, this year, I’m going to try making a few Christmas gifts.
One of my favorite holiday gifts that I received was a tri-color knit scarf that perfectly matched my pink herringbone patterned knit coat (a much loved present from my mother, from a previous Christmas). A friend who rode with me in a vanpool (a vanpool which consisted of myself and 5 other women, all of them my mother’s age and older. It was wonderful.) knit it for me, in secret, while sitting behind me in the back row. She knit a scarf for everyone of the women in our vanpool that year. It must have taken her weeks of our 50 mile round trip commute to get all of them done, and they were beautiful. Three years later, when I get out my winter coat and see that gorgeous handmade scarf tucked away with it, I smile and think of my sweet friend. THAT is a heart felt gift. I didn’t ask for a scarf that year, and she didn’t ask me for my Christmas wish list, she just made, and gave, a gift that was thoughtful, beautiful, and useful. Sure, she could have went and bought one for me, pretty much anywhere, and it might have even looked the same, it might have even cost less, and it surely would have taken her less time than knitting it, halfway in the dark, during our daily commute. She could have even picked up a gift card in no time flat, and given it to me to buy my own scarf, or whatever else I wanted to buy. But it wouldn’t have been the same.
Not everyone on my list would benefit from the items that I am capable of making on my own. My skills are still rather limited. Plus, the key to DIY gift giving, as I see it, is not turning the heartfelt homemade gift into a “one size fits all” present. For instance, I wouldn’t want to give my Grandma a coffee cozy, since I have never known her to spend $4 on a cup off coffee, and she probably wouldn’t recognize a Starbucks if it bit her in the face. But what she does like are beauty items, so a lemon sugar hand scrub would be a great gift for her. My Mom loves to get foot rubs and to take care of her feet, so a peppermint foot scrub would be a great gift to make for her. His Majesty loves to carry his books and random items from around the house, so a toddler backpack would be a great gift for him. Just like when you are buying gifts, I think that in order to be meaningful, a homemade gift should match the recipient. Why buy something that the recipient won’t like or use? It would be a waste of money, right? Well, along those same lines, making someone a gift would be a waste of time if they won’t use it or enjoy it. This year, I’ll pair homemade gifts with store bought and vendor bought items (many from the Gifts from the Heart Christmas Bazaar), but perhaps as the years pass, and my skills improve, I can make more gifts to give, and save myself a trip to the stores during the bustling holiday season. And THAT my friends, is a benefit in and of itself.
So, this week, I got busy making the aforementioned peppermint foot scrubs. I found a basic, easy to follow tutorial over at The Idea Room, and I found really cute containers for $2 that I knew would coordinate perfectly.
The ingredients you’ll need are simple: white sugar, vegetable oil (you can also use sunflower or safflower oil), peppermint essential oil, and food coloring, if you choose to color your bath (without coloring, it will have a light yellow color from the oil). The tutorial didn’t list an exact ratio of ingredients, but I’d been scoping out other bath scrub recipes and determined that a good starting ratio is roughly about 3:1 sugar to oil.
The containers hold 20 ounces, so I aimed for 2 cups for each batch, and I wanted to make 3 batches. I started out with 6 cups of sugar in a big ol’ bowl. Pretty easy so far.
Then I measured out 2 cups of oil, and added it slowly, stirring to combine it. You want a grainy texture, to where the sugar will still be a good exfoliant. I ended up using just shy of 2 cups of oil when I reached a consistency that I was comfortable with. (The sugar will soak up most of the oil without increasing the volume by a full 2 cups, so three 20 ounce containers ended up being perfect for this amount of peppermint scrub.)
Then I added a few drops of Peppermint Essential Oil. (I will caution you that if you have a cold, don’t have much of a sense of smell, like were my problems, you may want to have someone with a functional olfactory nerve standing by to help you gauge just how much essential oil to add. I asked Christopher to come down after I’d already added several drops, and was just about to add more. The look he gave me said clearly that I need not add any more oil. He said he could smell it from his school room upstairs…). Anyway, a little goes a long way with good quality essential oil (I got mine from Frontier), so add a few drops of oil at a time you get the scent you are aiming for. Then, I added a few swirls of red food coloring and stirred it all together until it was all a pretty, pepperminty, pink.
After that, I spooned it into my peppermint themed containers, marveled at my amazing skills, and did the dishes. Pretty simple, right? That’s all it takes to make a (very scented and delicious tasting) peppermint foot scrub.
Wouldn’t you want to indulge your toes in such a yummy treat? If peppermint isn’t your thing, you can add any essential oil that you want. The essential oil was the most expensive ingredient that I used, but as I mentioned, a little goes a long way, and I have plenty leftover to use in other projects later (or to use for healthy benefits: Peppermint has many well studied benefits.). Sugar, vegetable oil, and food coloring are inexpensive, and you can pick up the size and type of container that you want at pretty much any store you visit. You could store this in a cabinet away from direct light for months in an airtight container, so you can even make several batches of it to keep on hand as a gift for teachers or friends or neighbors, whomever you want to bless with your thoughtfulness.
There you go! One gift down, with some nice quiet nap time left to spare, and I didn’t have to leave the house. It doesn’t get much better than that!