By Brigid Sinram
Spend a sunny afternoon or snowy day making these inexpensive, one-of-a-kind gifts for someone special this holiday season. These winter craft projects are super easy to make and wonderful to use, and they smell great! Recycle old pillowcases, sheets, or whatever cool fabric you can find. Scented salt glows, used for bathing, exfoliate dead skin from the body, and leave your loved one’s skin fresh and soft—a perfect filler for any refillable, decorative containers you may have, including mason jars.
Dream pillows are small pillows filled with rice and scented oils that are lovely at bedtime, or anytime you need to relax or loosen your muscles. Choose thicker cotton fabrics, which will make the rice’s warmth seem to permeate the skin slowly. You want to make your bag about half full, so there’s enough room to mold around body parts. They are fun to snuggle with and can be heated in the microwave for extra warmth. All you need are basic sewing skills, some remnant fabric, essential oils, and the rice filling.
What you’ll need:
- Fabric scraps: decorative for the outside, and others for the inner pillow. Cotton is the safest fabric to use. As a natural fabric, it carries a lower risk of fire danger than synthetic fabrics if put in the microwave.
- 2 pounds (roughly 3–4 cups) of short or medium grain rice (not instant).
Essential (aromatherapy) oils. Prices of essential oils vary. Available locally at Barrels and Bins and Jackson Whole Grocer.
- Funnel or homemade pillow-filler—a plastic water bottle with the bottom cut off works well.
- Place rice in a bowl. Sprinkle with essential oil and stir. Start with 8–10 drops, and breathe deeply to test aroma strength. Different oils have varying strengths. Mix well and set aside for at least twenty minutes. This allows the rice to absorb the oil, preventing greasy spots on your fabric.
- Cut out two identically sized rectangles from each of the two cotton fabrics. Set aside the outer cover fabric.
- Using the fabric for the inner pillow, fold in half lengthwise (wrong sides together) and stitch across long side and one of the short sides, leaving one short side open. Fold right side out. Use the smallest stitch length you can for all seams, which will keep the rice from escaping (at least a 1/4” seam allowance).
- Repeat process for decorative outer cover fabric.
- Using funnel, fill the inner pillow with rice to desired pillow firmness. Remember to leave space (at least 2 inches) for sewing shut.
- Stitch the open side closed—shake all the rice to one side then run it through the sewing machine. Support the side filled with the rice with your left hand, while you guide the open side through the sewing machine.
- Slide sewn inner bag into decorative cover fabric. Tuck hems at opening, and sew shut.
- Microwave the pillow for a warming accessory. Start with 1 minute, and go up to 2 minutes. Caution: test the heat level for ten to twenty seconds before giving to younger children.
Other Options for Dream Pillows:
- Small eye pillows filled with flax seed.
- Keep a pillow in the freezer for use as a cold pack.
- Long, narrow back and shoulder pillows.
- Try filling pillows with lentils or buckwheat.
Create your own spa-quality scrubs as a gift for a fraction of the price. Making your own salt glows allows you to customize the fragrance and the ingredients that best suit your skin needs and moods. A basic salt scrub is composed of two key ingredients: salt and oil. Use these salt scrubs in the shower or tub, rubbing in circular motions toward the heart, increasing circulation. Wrap some pretty ribbons around the salt glow jar and it’s all ready to go!
What you’ll need:
- Mason jars, or any decorative containers you have, with lids.
- Epsom salt. You can also try it with other kinds of salts. All salts will have detoxifying and muscle-relaxing properties. Caution: salt can sting if you have any minor cuts or scratches.
- Food grade oil—coconut and olive oil are good choices.
- Essential (aromatherapy) oils. Mix and match and create your own personal favorite blend! Available at Barrels and Bins and Jackson Whole Grocer.
Some suggestions include:
- Citrus: for an uplifting effect.
- Rosemary, eucalyptus, or peppermint: for stimulating the body and clearing sinuses.
- Cinnamon: for adding a spicy kick to your scrub.
- Rose or jasmine: for an aromatic floral scrub.
- Lavender: for relaxation.
For your first salt scrub, start out with 1 cup of salt. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and stir. Keep adding oil until the scrub reaches your desired consistency. Begin with the consistency of a dry paste, gradually adding more oil. If you are adding essential oils, make sure to leave a little room for them in the salt mixture. If you have some dried lavender, add some in! Once you achieve the preferred consistency for your scrub, scoop into jars.
Other Options for Salt Glows:
- Almond or safflower oil.
- Try a sweet sugar glow with turbinado or brown sugar.
- Add dried flowers or herbs.
- Decorate jars with stickers or fabric.