As well as saving money, making your own Christmas gifts can be a wonderful way to perfect your newfound hobbies and show your loved ones just how much you care.
When it comes to homemade Christmas gifts, there’s plenty to say so we’ve divided up this blog post into two sections. To start with, we’re going to look at making your very own candles and soaps at home, then packaging them up beautifully ready to deliver to the lucky recipients on Christmas Day.
Making your own candles at home
You can achieve different consistencies and candle styles by using different types of wax. Most hobby candle-makers use either yellow or white beeswax pellets to melt down and make their candles. The yellow beeswax comes straight from the honeycomb, whereas the white wax is bleached.
Start by melting your beeswax – there are many different ways to do this but many people prefer the DIY ‘double boiler’ method. This involves using a Pyrex measuring jug to place your wax in and hanging it by its handle into a pot of water that you bring to a gentle boil.
While your wax is melting, you can take this time to measure your wicks. Grab the jars or holders you’re going to be using and place the wick inside, trimming it off with a decent length standing clear of where the candle’s surface will be. Top tip: when it comes to pouring your wax in, you can hold the wick in place centrally using chopsticks.
Next, measure your essential oils out – approximately 25 drops for around every 30g of beeswax is about right, but you can play with the quantities until you find a fragrance strength you like. Mix the oils into the melted wax, pour carefully into the containers and let them set over the next 24hrs.
Presentation of candles can be the best part. Try tying colourful grosgrain ribbons around the jar to correspond with the oils used – i.e. purple for lavender, red for rose etc. You can even make your own labels using a computer, or why not try a spot of calligraphy?
Making your own scented soaps can be so satisfying, and playing with different essential oil combinations is quite addictive. The most common way to make soap is the cold process method. You’ll need some lye, distilled water, your chosen carrier oils and selected essential oils. Popular essential oils for soap-making include cedarwood, patchouli, lemon and lavender. But you’ll soon discover your favourites as you experiment.
Safety equipment is important whenever you’re making soaps at home, so make sure you have the right gloves and goggles to hand before getting started. Check your specific recipe and start by combining the right amounts of distilled water with your lye (lye is caustic so you must be careful). Next, weigh out your solid and liquid oils according to the recipe (popular soapmaking oils include palm, coconut and sunflower) and heat and melt them together.
Add the lye and water solution to the melted oils then mix them together slowly at first then speeding up – some people use a stick blender to make sure they mix up properly. Add your essential oils and any extra additives such as petals or herbs and pour the mixture into your molds. It’ll take about 24 hours to harden and be ready for slicing up and packaging. You can use string and cardboard labels, little boxes and even little hessian sacks to package up your homemade soaps.
So there you have it, homemade candles and soaps with which you can surprise and delight your loved ones! Make sure you come back in a couple of weeks to check out our handy hints for making your own hair and skincare products for delightful homemade Christmas gifts.