Green, Budget-Friendly Gifts for All Occasions (Part 2)

GIFT IDEA: Bath Salts

Bath salts are classically overpriced but you can make them at home for a fraction of the cost, with personalized labels, colors and scents to boot! Buy a bag of Epsom salts at any grocery or drugstore; most likely you’ll find that the bigger a bag you get, the cheaper it will be. It doesn’t ‘go bad’, so stock up without stress. Using a funnel to avoid a mishap, pour the Epsom salts into a jar so you know how much you are working with. Then divide the salts between 2-3 bowls. Again, making multiple batches is easiest in the long run.

You just need a couple drops of food coloring in each bowl, then mix well with a spoon. Pour each color into the jars, layering as you go. You can scent the salts with anything you have in your cupboard, including nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla or peppermint extract. You only need a tiny amount, so go easy.

Create a label out of whatever’s closest and you’re ready to go. Attaching it with a ribbon will make it look even nicer. However, if ribbon is in short supply, a rubber band works just as well. It’s all about being green and using what you already have in your home.

Sugar Scrub

Sugar scrubs are – traditionally – another costly indulgence that can be made for next to nothing. Even if you aren’t known for your baking skills, chances are quite high that you have at least some white sugar in the house. (Brown sugar works for scrubs, too, but it’s not as simple to work with when it comes to tall jars.)

Like with the Epsom salts for your first project, you’ll need to use a funnel to measure out how much sugar you’ll be working with. Pour it out into a clean bowl, then add a couple more tablespoons of it. Why? Because you’ll be pouring on a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil (or whatever oil you have laying around), and the oil will cause the sugar to ‘shrink’ a bit.

To disguise the smell of the oil, you’ll want to use a bit more of your favorite scent, mixing it in with a spoon or your hands. Color the scrub if you wish, then scoop it back into your (free!) glass jar. Top with your spray-painted lid, attach a label, and you will feel like a thrifty, time-pressed Martha Stewart.

Laundry Detergent

Don’t worry; this homemade recipe isn’t complicated at all! But it will impress your friends, neighbors and co-workers, so you may get addicted to the attention. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

For great smelling, hard working laundry detergent, measure out 1 cup of washing soda (not baking soda) and 1 cup of borax. Both ingredients are salt-based, making them ideal for clean scrubbing power on not-so-clean clothes. Then, using a hand grater or an electric one, grate a bar of soap into the mixture. (The bar of soap should be the traditional size, or you can use multiple mini soap bars you’ve collected from hotel stays over the years.)

Then mix the 3 ingredients together! It will smell wonderful, trust us. Pour into several jars, as it makes a substantial-sized batch. Let the lucky recipient know that 1 TBS of the natural detergent will work for small or regular sized loads, while 2 TBS is best for large or extra dirty loads.

So there you have it. With just 10-30 minutes of prepping ahead of time, you can have a whole shelf filled with ready-to-deliver homemade gifts that work for neighbors, teachers and forgiving friends. Not only are these gifts made with love, they’re made with Earth-sustainable ingredients. And presents don’t get much better than that.

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