Handmade Holidays: Your Guide to DIY

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Making your own presents can be a great way to save money over the holidays while still giving your loved ones a personalized touch on their presents. Photo by Kayla Nguyen

When you’re a busy college student, it’s hard to find the time to find the perfect holiday present for each special person in your life. It also doesn’t help that you’ve been eating ramen for a month to afford said presents (or that you spent the rest of your money on that Game of Thrones box set—oops). Here we’ve compiled a list of cheap and easy do-it-yourself presents that you can throw together at the last minute. Break the holiday norm without breaking the bank this year.

No-sew fringe infinity scarf

Materials:

  • T-shirt you’re willing to part with
  • Scissors

First take any T-shirt you’re willing to cut up, or purchase a cheap one from Goodwill or Jo-Ann Fabrics. Cut and remove the top part of the T-shirt by cutting straight across, below both sleeves. Toss the top part aside—you won’t need that anymore. On the side you just cut, slice inch-wide strips to about halfway up the shirt, making a fringe. Finish by pulling each strip to stretch it out. Final step: Try it on and consider your calling as a future fashion designer.

Homemade bow ties

Materials:

  • Fabric of your choosing
  • Strip of elastic (most craft stores have small rolls for less than $2)
  • Velcro
  • Hot glue gun
  • Recommended: iron

Everyone knows that “bow ties are cool” (thanks, Eleven), so why not bask in the coolness of hip neckwear with your friends? First cut a 9-by-5-inch piece of your fabric of choice. Then cut out a 2-inch-wide strip of fabric. Make the length relatively long so you can trim off extra later. Set this piece aside.

Iron the rectangular piece of fabric so it’s completely flat, without any creases or wrinkles. Then, folding hot dog style, fold each side up 1 inch and iron down so the folds stay in place. Next, folding hamburger style, fold each side equally until the fabric meets in the middle, overlapping by about a centimeter.

For those with sewing skills, sew a running stitch straight on top of the two overlapping pieces. If you’re not sewing-savvy, hot glue a thin strip of glue between the two overlapping pieces.

Once the glue has cooled, pinch the middle part together to form a bow shape. Grab the longer strip of fabric that you set aside earlier and fold it in half, hot dog style. Wrap twice around the middle of the bow to hold the bow together.

Next, stitch or hot glue the long strip in the center of your bow tie. Cut off the extra fabric of long strip. Take your strip of elastic and measure out 10–12 inches. (You’re estimating the size of the recipients neck. Or you can just ask them.) Glue the direct center of it in the middle of the bow. Cut out 2-inch pieces of Velcro and glue to the ends of elastic.

You can also make this into a hair bow by gluing the bow to a barrette instead of a strip of elastic.

Candy cane sugar scrub

This recipe makes enough scrub to fill six 1/2 pint Mason jars. Everyone loves Mason jars now, and they’re the perfect containers for gifts like this. Plus, you can make them festive with ribbons, bows and paper gift tags—wherever your creativity takes you!

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups coconut oil (Pure, unrefined coconut oil works best—make sure there are no additives in it. This is available at stores like New Seasons Market.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • Food grade gel food coloring

To melt the coconut oil, measure it out in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Once the oil is melted, add the olive oil and peppermint extract. Stir to combine these ingredients. Next, add the sugar, mixing until there is no dry sugar left.

And that’s it! Your scrub is done! To get the candy cane effect, do the following:
Separate the scrub mixture into halves in separate bowls. Mix in the food coloring into one bowl of scrub until the color is consistent. For the traditional candy cane look, use red in one half and leave the other half white. If you prefer the tropical candy canes, try blue food coloring in one bowl and green in the other. Then just layer the scrub into the Mason jar, alternating colors until you reach a 1-inch headspace at the top. Wipe the mouth of the jar. Add the lid and band, and huzzah! Your spa scrub is finished!

(Adapted from jacolynmurphy.com/2011/12/oh-sugar-secrets-of-scrub.html.)

Super easy DIY lotion

Nothing goes with a body scrub better than a super moisturizing lotion, and this DIY lotion recipe is simple and easy! Plus, it uses the one of the ingredients you already have on hand from making the sugar scrub: coconut oil.

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces baby lotion
  • 8 ounces coconut oil or petroleum jelly
  • 8 ounces vitamin E cream

Measure out all three ingredients into a mixing bowl. Using a kitchen mixer, beat all ingredients until they’re light and fluffy.

That’s it! Essential oils can be added to give the lotion the scent of your choice. Pour the lotion into a Mason jar until you reach a 1-inch headspace at the top. Put on the lid and band and decorate!

(Adapted from latina.com/beauty/makeup/diy-beauty-products?slide=2#axzz2kqriSuXT.)

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