As the weather cools and the holidays quickly approach, I’m reminded that it’s time to start making.

My family has always eschewed standard Christmas gifts in favor of things that were made personally, by hand. My dad, a hobbyist woodworker, has made music boxes and jigsaw puzzles for my sisters and I. My mom, a retired nurse and artist, often creates watercolor paintings of places that are meaningful to our family.

While the wrapped boxes beneath our Christmas tree rarely overflowed beyond the radius of the lower branches, the gifts are meaningful because of the time they took out of their busy lives, to create just for us. And, years later, these sentimental objects still have a place of honor in my home.

This Christmas, most of my immediate family will be enduring a colder winter than usual. While a quick trip to the mall for sweaters and scarves would be an easy answer, I asked Danielle Bray of Eco Apothecary to help me develop a trio of earth-friendly and pampering skin products to give them.


These all-natural recipes will exfoliate and moisturize even the driest winter skin, and the best part is that the base of each recipe is made with ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen cupboard.

Click here to download some custom-made labels (sized to Avery 8165) and trim to fit your jar. Happy making!

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02-Scrubs-Holiday-Gifts-Handmade-DIY-Michelle-Mishina-The-Girl-Who-Knows-TGWK-LipScrubBrown Sugar & Vanilla Lip Scrub

The soft brown sugar in this scrub will gently exfoliate dry lips; the coconut and olive oils will provide a quick infusion of moisture. The best, most indulgent part is that this scrub is totally edible.


Add the sugar to a medium bowl. Combine with the oils and mix until an even consistency is achieved. Add the vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon, or to your liking) and mix again. Spoon the scrub into a little jar and seal with a ribbon, twine, or washi tape. The scrub can be refrigerated, and will last about a month.

Instructions for use:
Take a pea-sized amount and gently massage the scrub onto lips. You can either wipe the scrub off with a soft towel or just lick your lips because it’s edible. Be sure to follow with a rich lip balm to keep the moisture from the coconut oil in. You can use the scrub up to two times per week, and it’ll store well for about a month.

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Sweet Spiced Coffee Body Polish

We’ve finally found an answer to the age-old question: “What should I do with my used coffee grounds?” The caffeine from the coffee in this scrub will help tighten & tone skin, and the sugar and oil blend will gently exfoliate and infuse your skin with moisture. The scent of this body polish isn’t overly feminine, so this is a great gift for the well-groomed men in your life.



Add the sugar and coffee grounds to a medium bowl. Combine with the oils and mix until an even consistency is achieved. Add two drops of each essential oil and combine well. Spoon the scrub into a jar and seal with a ribbon, twine, or washi tape. This body polish will store well for about a month. You can experiment with different essential oils using the coffee, sugar, and oil base. Try using hazelnut and vanilla essential oils for a “hazelnut latte” polish.

Instructions for use:
Gently massage the polish onto your skin in a circular motion, concentrating on elbows, knees, and other dry patches. Rinse well, and be sure to follow with a good moisturizer to lock in the benefits of the oils. You can use the polish up to two times per week. Be careful when using this scrub because it will make your shower or bathtub slippery!

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Himalayan Bath Soak and Dry Scrub

Salt soaks are excellent way to relieve sore and tired muscles while detoxifying your body, and Himalayan pink salt has the added benefit of being more minerally rich than most other salts. The aromatherapeutic benefits of sage & lavender will soothe you after a long day of holiday shopping and meal preparation, and the geranium oil helps to blend the fragrances together. You can also use this as an exfoliating scrub in the shower.


Combine the salt, dried lavender and dried sage in a medium bowl. Start with a drop of each oil and slowly add more until the desired fragrance strength is achieved. If you accidentally add too much oil, just add a bit more salt. Add the salt mixture to a jar and finish with ribbon, twine or washi tape and include a pretty wooden spoon for easy scooping. This soak has a longer shelf life than the two oil-based scrubs, but should be used within a few months.


Instructions for use:
As a soak: sprinkle ½ cup into a running bath to dissolve.

As a shower scrub: In the shower, take a small handful of the scented salt and gently rub onto your skin and let the water rinse it away. Moisturize immediately after you dry off. Common sense warnings: The oil-based scrubs will make the bath or shower slippery, so be careful. Don’t use the scrubs on broken or sensitive skin.

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And before we go, here are a few resources for you as you start gathering supplies for making your scrubs and soaks:

I hope you’re inspired to make something by hand this holiday season. Share your ideas or tell us what you’re planning to make in the conversation area below. Happy Holidays!



Photos by Michelle Mishina Photography

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