Thursday, December 19, 2013

A DIY Secret Santa Gift



I've loved Christmas for as long as I can remember, but this year spending money on gifts seemed rather daunting. After the move and earning no income while I job hunted, we knew we couldn't get extravagant gifts for everyone on our list this year. And while I normally am excited by any Christmas exchange and festivities, I have to admit I groaned a little when my workplace drew names for Secret Santa.

What to purchase with a $20-25 limit? I know that many of you readers may be in the same situation as we are, so I thought I would share my solution with all of you, for a Christmas gift that I would like to receive that won’t break the bank.

I decided to go for a DIY Secret Santa gift, assembled in ever-awesome Mason jars. I've blogged about making sugar scrub before, and I decided to make the scrub a little fancier by adding antioxidant-rich jasmine green tea. I brewed an extra strong cup of tea by using one tea bag in just a few tablespoons of water (and you may not need that much). I then mixed the tea with Trader Joe’s raw cane sugar and brown sugar, as well as a few drizzles of vegetable oil, honey, and vanilla, until the consistency felt right when I tested it on my hand. I spooned the resulting mixture into a pint-sized Mason jar. Sugar scrub can be purchased for around $12-13 dollars, so the scrub itself counted for about half of the gift.

I save extra pretty wrapping paper and ribbons, so I used some patterned brown paper, a heart cut out of a paper grocery bag, and a fine-tipped Sharpie to make a label for the sugar scrub. I tied a festive ribbon around the opening of the jar.

A close-up of the label...it was really fun to make!
Then I scoured the Internet for other DIY Christmas recipes, and found two to use. The ladies at my workplace are all about chocolate (the perfect place for me to work!), so I decided to make a hot chocolate mix and a chocolate chip muffin mix.

Real Simple provided the hot chocolate recipe. I mixed together cocoa powder, chocolate chunks, and cane sugar from Trader Joe’s and put the concoction in a pint-sized Mason jar. I used some leftover envelopes from long gone stationary to design a label for the hot chocolate, and tied a red ribbon around the mouth.

The chocolate chip muffin recipe came from Sqawkfox. I put a mix of flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and chocolate chips in a quart-sized Mason jar. To make the muffins, the recipient will add milk, butter, and an egg. Although Squawkfox has handy free labels, we don’t have a printer, so I used more of the envelopes and some cheery red ribbon to complete the gift.

I think I'll have to make some more for me...
The three jars combined added up to $20-25, yet were easy to make with ingredients I already had at home. Personally, I’d love to receive the jars just as much as the contents inside, and I've decided to start saving all of our salsa and jam jars to use in the future (really, why haven’t I been doing that already?).

With a little creativity and brainstorming, Christmas dilemmas turn into Christmas excitements! Not having as much money forces me to expand my mind and tap into my imaginative side, and I've enjoyed being able to turn a limitation into a springboard for resourcefulness.

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