There are only a few short weeks standing between now and the New Year, which means it’s crunch time for holiday gift giving. And if you’re anything like us, you probably have a few people on your shopping list who share your appreciation for all things natural. So why not consider making them a special gift this year? Hit the jump to see three easy projects you can do yourself that are bound to make your friends or family members feel extra special this year.
A nature-inspired “frame”
An articulate activist, John Muir championed the protection of America’s natural resources and has become a symbol of the transcendence one can find in nature. Invite him into the home of your loved one by sharing his influential words. Simply print out this image on 8 ½ x 11 (regular printer paper size) card stock and whip up a quick frame.
Make Muir proud by starting your project with a walk in the woods. Look for a stick that is relatively straight. Trim it down to nine inches with a handsaw and bring it inside.
Find four magnets that are small enough to be invisible behind your stick, some glue, and one or two clamps.
Glue one magnet a half-inch in from the end of the stick and clamp it in place. Do the same with a second magnet on the other end of the stick. Read your glue’s instructions, then wait for the recommended amount of time before removing the clamps.
Cut a length of twine about 16 inches long. Tie it, using a double knot, to each end of the stick to prepare it for display.
Flip your new frame upside down and grab your print. Set it, face down, on top of the frame and sandwich it between the magnets you glued onto the stick and two more. Et voila.
Slip the rolled-up print and your frame into a cardboard tube and it’ll be ready to wrap. Just like that, you’ve got one person checked off your list and you’re ready to tackle the next project.
Perfume made from essential oils
Not many people are lucky enough to work outside, enjoying the sights and smells of the natural world while they make their living. Thankfully, there are small things we can do to trick ourselves into feeling a little closer to nature, like patting on a bit of woodsy perfume first thing in the morning. Here’s some recipe inspiration for creating a custom scent reminiscent of the outdoors.
Head to your local natural foods store in search of essential oils. Use their tester bottles to determine which fragrances you like the best. The idea is to recreate the outdoors, so look for oils from plants that grow nearby. Balsam fir needle oil is a fantastic choice, and pairs nicely with sandalwood essential oil. Also consider bergamot, cedar wood, spruce or vetiver for an earthy scent.
Select a carrier oil and a bottle. Since essential oils can irritate the skin when applied directly, a carrier oil will be necessary to dilute it. Jojoba oil is an excellent option and can be used instead of lotion to hydrate skin, so you won’t be unsure what to do with the rest of the bottle after using it for your perfume. Most natural foods stores will also have roll-on or dropper bottles available for purchase.
Once you’re home again, put on gloves to protect your skin from spills and mix 10 drops of your essential oils together. If you have two oils, try five drops of each. Waft the scent of the combined oils your way to see if you like the blend. You may want to add more of one scent or something new altogether. Experiment until you find a combination you enjoy.
Add the carrier oil. For each 12 drops of essential oil, pour in one ounce of carrier oil. Once combined, transfer your custom perfume to a vial and cap it.
Tie this up with a nice ribbon and a sprig of evergreen for your second DIY nature lover’s gift.
Floral crown from upcycled fabric scraps
Mother Earth appreciates your resourcefulness, so reuse those fabric scraps instead of tossing them into the landfill by creating a beautiful floral crown this holiday season. There’s surely some lovely lady on your shopping list that would feel like a faerie queen with this atop her head.
Gather up fabric scraps in green, white and yellow hues. Felt works especially well since it won’t fray, but any fabric will do, since a little wear will add to the boho-chic aesthetic. You’ll also need scissors, two buttons, a dab of glue (optional), a needle and thread, floral tape and green stem wire.
Take two pieces of stem wire and overlap them several inches. Twist them together so they become one long stem. Wrap this around your head so it fits comfortably, and pinch the two wires together where they meet. Just as you did before, twist the wires together where they overlap so you have one complete circle.
Create lots of leaves from your green fabrics, making sure that one end of each leaf tapers to a pretty narrow point.
Begin attaching the leaves to the wire by placing them on the wire and wrapping the narrow end with floral tape. Add one new leaf behind the previous one all the way around the crown. There may be a slight gap or awkward spot where the beginning and end of the leaves meet, but that’s okay, since we can cover it with flowers.
Cut out a yellow circle that is about twice the diameter of one button. Dab a bit of glue onto the button head and place it face down on the fabric circle (the glue isn’t completely necessary, but it will help). Stitch all the way around the circle. Instead of tying off your thread when you have gone once around, pull it tight so the fabric hugs the button. Now you can tie it off.
With your white fabric, cut four rough circles. Snip Vs of varying sizes into them all the way around to create the illusion of petals. Layer two circles and place a button in the center. Stitch this into place. Repeat this step and the previous one to create a second flower.
Sew the flowers onto the crown covering up any blank spots between leaves.
With that, you’ve knocked out three simple gifts for the tree huggers in your life. They’ll appreciate the time and effort you put into your handmade gifts, and the comfort each earthy present brings. Now that your gift giving is nearly done, you’ll have a little more time to get out into the mountains and hear the news. Happy holidays.
Julia Marchand writes about sustainability and DIY decor and fashion for eBay, where you can find countless items (see here) to give new life to.
All images by the author