Imagine it's December 1st, and you have all your gifts organised. Not only that, but you're several hundred or even several thousand dollars better off than you usually would be at this time of the year, because you've organised every single gift for every occasion this year, in a similar timely fashion. How would you feel? Excited? Content? Proud? Jubilant?
It can be done!
Here at A Tray of Bliss, I've declared this year, Homespun Year.
I've made a commitment to hand craft all gifts for the year, and it's incredible what some of my friends on my Five Star Frou-Frou linkup have already generated. Annabel over at The Bluebirds are Nesting is having her own Gift Challenge and similarly, her followers are awe inspiring. Have a look here.
Homespun can mean anything, from creating gifts, to trying a new recipe for something like pasta made from scratch, or pate` or that seafood pie you've always meant to try but hadn't got around to, or growing something like a Kaffir Lime Tree in order to gift lavish bunches of fresh Kaffir Lime Leaves to friends who adore Thai cooking.
Homespun also conjures up visions of the rustic, the imperfect and the upcycled, so even if you're not particularly crafty, or you're time poor, there will be many projects I'll be sharing that take less than five minutes to complete.
This week I'm sharing two incredibly easy projects, one of which will take you an hour at most, and one, a mere matter of minutes!
Now, the other great thing about getting an early start on gifts, is that you have time to gather inexpensive or exotic materials, even ones that take ages to ship.
I've started the year with some really easy bubble bath, and some divine DIY luxury scented candles.
Candles truly are the Gift du Jour amongst young girls and women everywhere at the moment. The designer ones are crazy expensive to buy, and yet making your own candles is one of the easiest and most rewarding crafts ever.
I bought candle making supplies on eBay from this supplier here. For $55 including postage, I have enough wax, dye chips and wicks, to make at least 20 beautiful candles.
I use Wellington Designer Fragrances to scent mine. I bought three 16oz bottles of Designer concentrate, in Chanel No 5, Lemon Verbena, and White Linen about 4 years ago. I've used them for all kinds of gifts, and whilst with shipping, they cost me over $100, they've saved me hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in creating gifts and even fabric softener! But really, you can just use fragrance oils available at any discount store. My argument though, is that if you're making gifts, you can afford to use the best materials. This turns the ordinary, into the desirable!
My vessels for the candles can be anything from glasses, to thrifted sugar bowls, to teacups, and apothecary jars. I set myself a limit of $3, and I never go over that.
I add ribbons and charms to decorate them and they just look beautiful. Charms of all kinds are available very inexpensively from China on eBay. Usually you can get 10-20 little charms for $2, with free postage. I've just ordered some little Eiffel Towers which I think will be very handy indeed.
This completed candle is embellished with a diamante` studded shape, echoing the Art Deco lines of the little vintage sugar bowl. I tinted the wax a delicate peach colour and scented it with Lemon Verbena.
This second one, below, is my first attempt at Faux Mercury Glass. It wasn't what I'd call a raging success, but it's still a very pretty effect. This is a really substantial candle weighing a good 600gms which will last absolutely ages. It's scented with a Chanel No 5 oil from Wellington Fragrance, and embellished Chanel style, with a black satin ribbon and crystal buckle.
These three below are the ones I made the other day. One peach as mentioned above, two pink. The Feather topped one is also scented with Chanel No. 5, and the baby pink one on the right, is scented with Estee` Lauder White Linen. Divine.
It's a simple 3 step process.
1. Use your chosen vessel to scoop twice into the soy wax chips. You need double the amount of wax chips as when they melt, they collapse. I've been using half a dye chip to get this pretty pastel result, so add that. Put the soy wax and the dye chip, into a microwave safe glass jug.
2. Microwave on High, for about 2 minutes, stirring with a chopstick to assist the chips in melting.
3. Add as much fragrance oil as you like (about half a teaspoon is good), stir, and pour the melted wax into your selected vessel, adding the wick with the disc attached (I bought wicks that already had the anchoring disc on them), to the bottom centre. Allow it to solidify. You're done!
Now a lot of tutorials tell you to tie the wick to a pencil across the top of the jar or glass to keep it in place. These wicks I bought were really good quality and quite thick so that wasn't going to work. I also bought long ones to give me the versatility to use them in different containers. So I got a mixing bowl and put about 7cms (3 inches) worth of water in it. I sat my newly created candle in the bowl very carefully, and gently, one by one, added ice cubes to the water. This enabled me to cool the wax quickly, especially at the base, where I needed to anchor my wick. Then it was just a matter of holding the wick base in place with a chopstick, for about 2 minutes until the wax solidified sufficiently to hold the wick in place. It worked well!
Once my candles had solidified, I simply trimmed the wicks, added embellishments and I was finished. I made three beautiful, designer grade soy wax candles in 45 minutes. Total cost about $6 each including the designer scent, and the embellishments. And I have enough wax and accoutrements, to make another 16 candles! Similar candles sell for anything from $20 to $200, so I consider that money well spent!
Today I also found these adorable little apothecary bottles with a bird stopper. I followed Annabels instructions for her Hollywood Bubble Bath which I wrote about here, tinting the blue bubble bath with a drop of red food colouring to get this pretty lavender colour, and scented it with Lavender essential oil. A purple bow to finish makes a special gift for under $4. I now have 6 of these lined up prettily for gifting for Valentines Day.
Creating gifts that people will love receiving doesn't have to take much time. A bit of planning ahead will stand you in good stead, and see you smiling on December 1st, as you wrap your beautiful hand crafted gifts, and admire your bank balance.
You can do it!