DIY Christmas Gifts

Author Photo
By Jonathan Olivier



A present made with your own hands is special; it conveys how much you care for someone. The thought, planning, and tailoring of a gift for a specific loved one proves that crafting a personalized gift involves much more than just labor. Following are three simple projects to try. They require only a few materials and hand tools, and are easy enough that even the kids can get involved. As a bonus, every project utilizes all-natural ingredients.

Minty Lip Balm

Homemade lip balm is an easy project that requires only a few ingredients and a small amount of time. The materials are available at craft stores, as well as online.

Lip balm makes such a great gift because it’s perfect for all ages and, in the winter, it’s useful for everyone. For those looking for an alternative to petroleum-based lip balms, this natural recipe is a great option because it uses only beeswax, cocoa butter, and essential oils.

Tools & Materials:

  • Double boiler or glass bowl and pot
  • Spoon
  • Plastic pipette
  • 12 lip balm tubes (0.15 ounce each)
  • 4 tablespoons grated beeswax
  • 4 tablespoons grated cocoa butter
  • 2 tablespoons jojoba oil
  • 45 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil


  1. Melt the beeswax and cocoa butter in the top of a double boiler set over boiling water (or in a glass bowl set over a pot of boiling water). Stir in the jojoba oil.
  2. Remove from heat, and stir in the essential oil.
  3. Use a plastic pipette to extract the liquid from the double boiler, and deposit it into the lip balm tubes, filling them to the top.
  4. Set the tubes aside and let them cool for a few hours to solidify before using or wrapping.

Homemade Peppermint Candles

A candle makes an excellent gift to adorn a kitchen or living room, and one that’s homemade can be customized for your special someone.

Mason jars work great here, but so do old containers from the kitchen that you might otherwise discard, such as spaghetti sauce jars. While commercial candles can contain chemical fragrances, this project incorporates all-natural ingredients that are readily available.

Tools & Materials:

  • Double boiler or glass bowl and pot
  • Spoon
  • Scissors
  • #3 or #4 cotton square-braided wicks
  • Mason jars
  • Chopsticks
  • Tape
  • 1-pound block pure beeswax
  • 1-1/2 cups coconut oil
  • 100 drops peppermint essential oil


  1. Melt the beeswax in the top of a double boiler set over boiling water (or in a glass bowl set over a pot of boiling water). Remove from heat, and stir in the coconut oil until fully incorporated. Add the essential oil.
  2. Trim the wicks to an appropriate height, depending on the jars you’re using. You’ll want each wick to be a few inches taller than the jar.
  3. Pour 1/2 inch of melted wax into each jar. Insert a wick in the center of each jar, and use a chopstick to push it down until it touches the bottom of the jar.
  4. Once the wax cools, wrap the end of the wick around a chopstick, without pulling too hard, and then secure it with tape. Rest the chopstick on the rim of the jar.
  5. Fill the jars with more melted wax, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Make sure the wicks stay centered while you pour the wax.
  6. Set the jars aside and let the wax cool overnight.
  7. Trim each wick so it extends about 1 inch from the top of the wax surface.

Mug Holder

Perfect for the coffee and tea lovers in your life, this one-of-a-kind mug holder incorporates reclaimed material. Old barn wood is an excellent medium with a rustic look, but any worn wood you have lying around will work. Use wood no thicker than 1 inch to keep the mug holder lightweight enough to hang on the wall.

Since the idea is to use reclaimed wood for this project, there are no exact measurements to follow. Let your imagination dictate how large to make your mug holder and where to place the cup hooks.

As an example, though, the one pictured here is 19- 1/2 inches wide by 17-1/2 inches tall.

Cuts are minimal, so you’ll only need a handsaw, plus a power drill to fasten it all together.

Tools & Materials:

  • Handsaw
  • Screws
  • Power drill
  • Wood
  • Chalk paint and paintbrush
  • Coffee mug hooks, (cup hooks)
  • 2 Frame hangers
  • Twine, optional


  1. Using a handsaw, cut the wood to desired length.
  2. You’ll likely have leftover wood scraps, so use those boards to secure everything in place. Once the main boards are positioned, screw two slats of wood as battens to the back of them.
  3. Paint the boards with chalk paint, and let them dry completely.
  4. Lay out a few coffee cups on the main board as a guide to where the hooks should be located, and then drill pilot holes and screw the hooks into the board.
  5. Attach the frame hangers to the back of the boards. Now you can either hang the mug holder by the hangers, or you can suspend it with sturdy twine tied to the frame hangers.

Photo by Getty Images/jakkapan21

Jonathan Olivier is an author and journalist from Louisiana who writes about the outdoors and the environment. For two years, he traveled across North America to work on farms before opening one of his own, Le Potager d’Acadiana.

Published on Nov 15, 2020