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Do-it-yourself gift ideas
By Alina Li

Christmas memories mean a lot of things to different people. Maybe it’s the sweet smell of cinnamon floating around the house, the Christmas carols on the stereo, or the taste of sugar cookies fresh out of the oven.


Christmas also means giving gifts, which means shopping and wrapping presents. You’ll find yourself at supermarkets and shopping malls one trip after another, stuffing that cart with cranberries and marshmallows, or trying to find a last minute gift for a friend.

This iDEAL Christmas issue is about do-it-yourself gifts. They can save time and money while making gifts heartfelt and meaningful.

Like the Grinch said: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.”


The right fragrance can put everyone in the holiday spirit right away.

Tired of scented candles that smell the same? Here’s a trick to make a simple potpourri out of holiday ingredients you have by your side.

Simmer a pot of water and add in orange slices, a handful of fresh cranberries, two cinnamon sticks broken in half, plus a pinch of nutmeg and some cloves. Simmer as long as you like, just keep adding water to prevent the pot from being burned.

You can also mix in fresh lemon slices, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and some fresh rosemary for a fresher and lighter scent.

Stove potpourri is simple and you can create your own spice jar using dried ingredients. They also make great gifts for friends and colleagues.



Use jars to present several types of presents that are homemade like sugar scrubs or baked goods.

Big or small, thick or thin, almost any glass jar can do the job. A pack of four small glass seasoning jars is only 8 yuan (US$1.3) at IKEA. With a simple sugar scrub recipe, you can make a dozen at a very low cost to give out to friends, family and coworkers.

A sugar scrub is good in the winter as it helps relieve dry skin, and this recipe is 100 percent natural without preservatives.

The two main ingredients in a sugar scrub are sugar and oil. But you can add other ingredients like green tea powder, coffee powder or lemon zest. You can use different kinds of oil like almond, olive, grape seed, jojoba oil or coconut oil for more moisture.

In a bowl, add a cup of sugar (granulated white sugar or brown sugar), a teaspoon of green tea powder and a tablespoon of grounded green tea leaves and mix, then add a half cup oil of your choice. Mix again until the oil is blended with the sugar. Put into sealed jars and keep them refrigerated, they can last a couple of weeks if kept cool and airtight.

With big jars, gifts can be more creative. A jar of your friend’s favorite candy and chocolate would sure be a sweet surprise. Fill one with homemade cookies or use a jar and fill it with nice soaps and fragrances for your mom.

You can also use a jar to give gifts like a Christmas apron. Just decorate the jar with ribbons, make a nice label and add a holiday message.

Another great thing about jars is that they can be recycled and used for other purposes, making the presents special and environmentally friendly at the same time.



After Thanksgiving, it’s time to bring out the Christmas tree and start decorating. Hanging ornaments is one of the best holiday tasks, as they can bring back sweet memories.

It can also be messy. After years of collecting ornaments, you may have so many boxes that it’s a bit hard to organize.

A simple trick is to use small paper or plastic cups to store ornaments to protect them and then place them in large storage boxes. You can also use egg cartons to store smaller and more delicate ornaments. Don’t forget the tinsel.




If you are making a gingerbread house and the frosting hardens in the cold weather, try melting some caramel to stick the pieces back together.

When hosting a formal dinner during the Christmas party season, wrap three candy canes upside down with red or gold ribbons. They can be used as name card holders when seating arrangements are necessary. It’s cheap and easy to make, plus festive. Of course, each guest can take the candy canes home.

Make a homemade Christmas calendar out of a muffin pan. Hide a candy or small toy in each slot and then seal with a piece of paper that has the date written on it. The children will enjoy opening one everyday until Christmas Eve.

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