HealthCalling

DIY Christmas Gifts That Are Health-Oriented and Sustainable

Want to avoid the mall this holiday season but not give homemade juice can pencil holders? There are great gifts you can make at home that promote both good health and a sustainable environment. Here are a few suggestions collected from the experts in sustainable, healthy giving:

Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub (courtesy bystephanielynn.com)

Is there someone in your life who would appreciate softer hands and smoother cuticles? This happy combination of sugar and olive oil is a great homemade gift that feels like the fancy organic brands and avoids harmful ingredients like parabens.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice (bottled or fresh squeezed)
  • 1 mason jar

Makes 12 ounces

Directions:

  1. Mix the sugar and olive oil. Then, add the lemon juice. Pour into the mason jar and mix well until a gritty paste forms. You may need to mix before gifting as the sugar can settle.
  2. The mixture does not need to be refrigerated. Simply place where you store your olive oil, which should be out of direct sunlight.

Garlic and Herb Infused Oil (courtesy of abeautifulmess.com)

When placed in a beautiful decorative container, this gift will be much-appreciated by anyone who loves good food. This infused oil is terrific for drizzling over pasta and salads or for bread-dipping. It’s a great addition for those who have adopted a healthy Mediterranean diet.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces olive oil
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 3 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions:

  1. In a small pot combine all ingredients and heat over medium/high heat for 6-8 minutes.
  2. Strain out the infused ingredients from the oil.
  3. Store the oil in an airtight container. You may also want to try adding red pepper flakes, rosemary sprigs, orange zest or hot peppers.

Almond Joy Truffles (courtesy of shape.com)

Here’s a great way to indulge your besties’ sweet tooths using natural sweeteners. And it’s inspired by the Almond Joy candy bar! This recipe makes 20 to 25 truffles.

Ingredients:

  • 10 pitted dried dates
  • Unsweetened coconut milk
  • 20 to 25 raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for coating)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus more for coating)

Directions:

  1. Place dates in a bowl, adding enough milk to cover, and let soak at least two hours or overnight (the longer they soak, the easier it will be to work with the dates).
  2. Remove dates from the liquid.
  3. Put almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat and toast a few minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Add dates, cacao powder, and coconut to a food processor and process until smooth. (Mixture should be sticky but solid enough to roll into balls.)
  6. Place extra cacao and coconut on separate plates for rolling.
  7. Taking 1/2 tablespoon at a time, roll mixture into a ball, then roll in the coconut or cacao (or both) to coat well.
  8. Place an almond in the top.
  9. Freeze at least two hours.

Homemade Deodorant Bars (courtesy of wellnessmama.com)

Natural deodorants may do a better job helping some people avoid skin irritation than conventional deodorant products.You might want to make sure you let friends know that this is a meant as a gift and not a statement about their personal hygiene.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • Shea butter, cocoa butter or mango butter (or a mix of all three equal to 1 part)
  • ½ cup + 1 teaspoon beeswax
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil – optional
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup organic arrowroot powder
  • 2-3 capsules of high quality probiotics that don’t need to be refrigerated
  • Optional: essential oils of choice

Directions:

  1. Combine coconut oil, shea (or other) butter, and beeswax in a double boiler, or a glass bowl over a smaller saucepan with one inch of water in it. Boil the water and stir ingredients until they are melted and smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and add the vitamin E oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder, probiotics and essential oils. Make sure the mixture is not hot to the touch so that the heat doesn’t kill the probiotics.
  3. Gently stir by hand until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Pour the mixture into muffin tins or other molds while it is still liquid.
  5. Note that every body reacts differently to natural deodorants. Suggest that your friends give it a try and see if the bars are right for them.

Homemade Essential Oils (courtesy of doityourself.com)

Essential oils aid in relaxation and stress management. Making your own as gifts sends a message that you care about your friends and loved ones’ mental and physical wellness.

Ingredients

  • Clean, sterile glass bottles or jars
  • 1 cup of aromatic plant materials such as lavender, rose petals or rosemary
  • 2 cups of oil such as baby or almond oil

Directions:

  1. To begin, you will need a collection of clean, sterilized bottles and jars. Wash them thoroughly first in hot soapy water, then boil in a large saucepan for 20 minutes.
  2. Place the plant material in your jar or bottle. Pour the oil over the plant material, making sure the bottle or jar is full. As a rough rule, use two cups of oil to one cup of plant material. You don't need to warm the oil before you pour it in the bottle or jar.
  3. Cap the bottle or jar tightly and place it in a warm and sunny spot. Leave the oil to infuse for a few days, or until the plant material begins to brown.
  4. Take the cap off and sniff — if it is not strong enough for you, strain the liquid, fill the jar with fresh plant material, and pour the oil back over it. Leave it for another few days. Keep doing this until the mixture is as aromatic as you want.
  5. When the oils are to your liking, strain thoroughly and put in a clean bottle. Keep your aromatic oil in a cool place. When you are ready to gift, transfer to a decorative container.

It’s a Wrap

Of course, if you’re giving a sustainable gift, you want your wrapping to also avoid wastefulness. Here are a few suggestions for DIY wrapping paper:

  • Fabric and fabric scraps
  • Old sheet music or old calendar pages (great for the new year!)
  • Children’s drawings or coloring book pages
  • Scarves, tea towels, napkins or handkerchiefs (the wrap is a gift, too!)
  • Colorful maps or pages from an ancient Thomas Guide
  • Newspaper and plain brown paper

Instead of a bow, decorate with natural items such as pine cones and pine sprigs. Or, try an origami star made from recycled paper.

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