Easy, Homemade 'Spa' Gifts
Shower friends and family with garden-inspired bath and body treats using fragrant essential oils
These homemade gifts are surprisingly simple — and fun — to make. Photos: Suzanne DeJohn
Recipes in this Article
By Susan Romanoff, Peggy Geier and Suzanne DeJohn
Recipients are sure to appreciate the care and thoughtfulness that goes into making one-of-a-kind gifts like these. They're fast and easy, too. I made them with colleagues on the Gardener's Supply creative team — Peggy Geier and Susan Romanoff — in just one morning! Consider doubling the recipes so you'll have some to keep for yourself.
Sometimes called bath fizzies, these effervescent bath-time treats are as simple to make as they are fun to use. Drop one in your bathwater and it will bubble and fizz and lend luxury and cheer to an evening soak. Herbs and essential oils make them soothing.
- 2 cups baking soda
- 1 cup citric acid
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- witch hazel in spritzer bottle
Citric acid is a naturally occurring acid that comes in the form of a fine white powder. It's available in the bulk herb section at some natural food stores. It's also used in canning, so stores that sell canning supplies might sell it or you can order it online. Coconut oil is available at natural foods stores as well as some supermarkets. Instead of lavender flowers and oil, try other combinations of dried flowers and essential oils, such as rose petals and rose essential oil, or calendula petals and grapefruit essential oil.
Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are highly concentrated and a few cautions apply:
- Although essential oils smell wonderful, don't ingest them. Store oils out of the reach of young children and pets.
- Before applying them to skin, dilute all essential oils with a "carrier oil," such as sweet almond oil.
- If you are pregnant or have a health condition, consult an aromatherapist before using essential oils for therapeutic purposes.
Natural salts and soothing herbs combine to calm, stimulate, rejuvenate and relax. Adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salts to bathwater can help stimulate blood circulation, relieve joint stiffness, soothe muscle cramps and soften skin.
- 3 cups of coarse sea salt
- 1 cup Epsom salt
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 10 drops of essential oil (we used rose and lavender)
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
- a few dried rose petals
Sea salt is made from evaporated seawater or mined from ancient underground seabeds and contains a range of minerals. Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral compound containing magnesium and sulfate.
Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils
There's a big difference between essential oils and fragrance oils. Essential oils are extracted from plants and carefully processed to retain the "essence" of the plants. Fragrance oils, on the other hand, usually contain a blend of synthetic components that combine to mimic the desired scent.
If you're using scents for therapeutic purposes, such as in aromatherapy, stick with essential oils. Although fragrance oils may smell similar, they don't contain the same natural molecular structure that gives essential oils their therapeutic properties.
Use this soothing salve on dry skin, bug bites and chapped lips.
- 1/2 cup calendula-infused oil
- 1 oz. beeswax
- 1/4 cup sweet almond oil
- few drops of Lavender Essential Oil
Calendula is noted for its soothing effects. If you have calendula growing in your garden, it's easy to infuse some oil. If not, you can use plain olive oil or sweet almond oil. You can find beeswax at many natural food stores and some craft supply stores, usually in the candle-making section.
Use a disposable, heatproof container when making the salve, because beeswax is difficult to remove from surfaces. Or set aside a dedicated, reusable container. Once you see how easy it is make salve, you'll want to make more.
Use these spritzers to freshen the air in your home, office and car or to add a fresh scent to blankets, sheets, pillowcases and towels.
- 1/2 cup distilled water
- 1 teaspoon vodka or witch hazel
- 5 to 6 drops of Essential Oil
The scents of peppermint and grapefruit are invigorating, so they're great for energizing room spritzers. Lavender promotes relaxation and rose is calming, making them ideal for misting on bed linens.
The vodka or witch hazel acts as a preservative. Vodka is best for room sprays because it doesn't irritate the eyes. It's also odorless, unlike witch hazel.
This is such a simple process, and recipients always appreciate the results.
- 1 lb. melt-and-pour soap base
- 1/4 cup oatmeal, ground fine in a blender or old coffee grinder
- 10 drops of Essential Oil
- rubbing alcohol (optional)
You can buy melt-and-pour soap at craft stores or order it online. Ground oatmeal is soothing and gently exfoliates the skin. Choose your favorite essential oil. Tea tree has antiseptic properties. Peppermint creates an invigorating lather. Rose is probably the most popular scent for soap.
If you want fancy soap shapes, you can purchase soap molds. Otherwise, use any small, clean containers, such as tuna cans or yogurt containers. If you have trouble removing the soap from the mold, place it in the refrigerator for a little while.