A Very Crafty Christmas: DIY Ideas for Student Santas

Peppermint bark is a crazy easy, beautiful and delicious holiday treat perfect for gifting to just about anyone. // Photo courtesy of Sally at SallysBakingAddiction.com

by Kar-Leigh Kelso
The Lance – Contributor

Gift-giving season has returned with a vengeance.  Is it just me, or do the sales seem to be on steroids this year?

If all the flash sales and mobs have you in a curled up in a ball of anxiety at the thought of even stepping into the mall, or you’re a broke last-minute gift-giver like me, I’m here to tell you we can get through this together.  I’ve got some DIY gifts which are sure to delight all kinds of people.  Even if you’re not so crafty, or have a whole lot of time during or after your exams, read on–you’d be surprised how simple some of these things are.

Bath & Body Things
This is what I’ll be predominantly giving out this year, I think.  There’s a goldmine of all-natural, simple recipes all over the internet from scrubs to bath bombs, lotion bars to soap, and everything in between.  Google “DIY (scrub, lotion, etc.)” and you’ll find all kinds of recipes to suit your needs.  The great thing about these kinds of things is they’re easily customizable to anyone: you can use essential oils, spices in your cupboard, or even tea to give your creations a delicious fragrance. My favourites to make are sugar scrubs: for a small mason jar size, you need granulated sugar, then some kind of carrier oil like coconut oil, shea butter, or even olive oil. (You can find more exotic oils like apricot and grape seed oil, which have different benefits for skin, at places like GNC and Nutrition House.)  Then, just toss in the things you want to make it smell good, mix, and you’re done!  If you want to keep to the seasonal theme, I would suggest recipes for gingerbread, peppermint, or pumpkin pie scents.

A sugar scrub can be an easy spa gift for a friend or family member who loves scents and pampering. // Photo courtesy: Mom's An Oil it All

A sugar scrub can be an easy spa gift for a friend or family member who loves scents and pampering. // Photo courtesy: Mom’s An Oil it All

Ornaments
This one’s a little tougher (have you ever tried to find a plain-coloured ceramic ornament?) but possible. I believe Michaels sells ornament kits and should sell plain ornaments by themselves.  Bonus: they usually have a 40 per cent off coupon out every seven to 14 days.  You can use Sharpies, ribbon, acrylic paint, glitter; go nuts! Just about anything will work.  Again, if you’re not super creative, you can even just write a simple memory or message on a plain ornament and I promise you, the receiver will love it.  If you’re especially crafty, you can even hand-sew some plushie ornaments, or spray paint a cardboard cutout and draw some simple details on afterward.

Memory Jar
I would be such a blubbery mess if I received one of these, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: pretty up a jar and fill it with good memories with a person.  Peruse Facebook, or a journal, photos–whatever it takes to really get that thing packed. Shoot, you could even print off some photos and plaster them to the sides, or Instagram shots would probably fit in any decent-sized jar nicely.  I would suggest gathering all the filling first so know what size jar would suit you best, or challenge yourself to think of as many memories as possible to fill it.  You may have as fun making it as they have opening it!

A memory jar is a beautiful and sentimental gift which, with a little time, soul-searching and Facebook creeping, can be filled and gifted in no time at all.  // Photo courtesy: Lena at TinyPainterBlog.com

A memory jar is a beautiful and sentimental gift which, with a little time, soul-searching and Facebook creeping, can be filled and gifted in no time at all. // Photo courtesy: Lena at TinyPainterBlog.com

Themed Gift Basket
Does your recipient love to cook?  Are they a member of the Star Wars fandom?  No matter their interest, you can put together something they’ll appreciate with stuff from the dollar store.  With the kitchen basket, you can put together some cooking utensils, themed kitchen towels, a decorative mug–use your imagination!  If you want to kick it up a notch you could wrap it all together into a mixing or serving bowl.  Aside from Dollarama, Walmart has a pretty good selection of cute kitchen things if you can get to one.  (I got my cupcake tea towels there for $1 each.)  A fandom-themed basket may require a little more creativity.  Like, paint and Sharpies creativity.  This is where those ornaments I mentioned earlier could make an appearance. Or maybe a picture frame that’s space or Death Star decorated.  If you’re really stuck, I’ve seen some cool baskets put together on the internet that I bet Google could help you out with, too. I’ve seen so much cheap, neat Star-Wars themed stuff just about everywhere right now so this would be a great one to go with this year.  Heck, make some of those R2-D2 Pillsbury cookies and toss those in.  Boom!  Brilliance.  And speaking of cookies…

Treats
Who doesn’t love a good Christmas cookie?  There are oodles of recipes to choose from and that can be tailored to different people based on their favourite things, but I would say one of the simplest and most delicious things to make that I’ve given out at Christmas is candy cane bark.  It’s incredible.  You need candy canes, milk or dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and peppermint extract. I’d say a trip to Bulk Barn should do it.  (Aim for  a Wednesday and you’ll have a 10 per cent discount to boot.)   And, if you don’t have the money or the time to go out for dollar store boxes, consider fancying up some Ziploc bags.  I’ve seen some really beautiful designs on the internet from people who did just that.  You can always go a more simple route with brownies, chocolate chip cookies–honestly, that’s my Christmas wish list right there. You cannot go wrong with homemade baked goods, last resort or not.

So, I’m hoping I’ve covered all the bases for just about everybody you’re planning on DIY-ing things for and I’ve been able to give you some inspiration if you’re feeling stuck, are out of ideas, or haven’t started yet. Remember: just about everyone you know loves something homemade, from the heart, from one of their favourite people.  (That’s you!)  So don’t stress!  As long as it’s made with love, they’ll love it.  Happy crafting!

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