Eco Holiday Badge, Step 3
To complete Step 3 of the Eco Holiday Badge, we took action by getting together and making some homemade gifts! Homemade gifts are often better for the planet because they can incorporate reused or recycled materials and often require less shipping. They are also special to give and receive because the giver has clearly put time and love into making the gift. We rounded up a bunch of homemade gift ideas here.
We picked two crowd-pleasing gifts that would be easy to create at home. We reused and recycled any items we could, and bought the rest of our supplies ahead of time.
First, we DIYed a favorite store bought gift from last year: an advent candle. This long lasting gift can be used throughout the holiday season. We also tried our hand at a brand new gift project that is sure to be a holiday hit for many on our list: pom pom essential oil diffusers!
Homemade Gift Making Prep
We found that a bit of prep work will make your DIY gift making gathering run more smoothly. Identify what handmade gifts you and your guests will be crafting. You could all make the same item or invite your guests to bring a project to share. Pinterest and Etsy are great places to look for ideas. Keep in mind who is on your shopping list. Crafting unwanted homemade gifts is not a good use of anyone’s time. Look for crafts that will make great gifts for multiple people on your list. We found that buying supplies in bulk can typically save you money and time.
After you have identified your projects, create a master list of supplies needed. Look around at home and see if you already have any of the needed supplies. Ask others who will be attending your handmade gift making gathering if they have any of the supplies. Take your list with you when you shop.
Set a festive mood for your Handmade Gift Making Gathering. Put on some holiday music, wear a festive sweater or hat, share a meal or some snacks. Think about space needed for the crafting. Do you need to set up extra tables? Do you need to put down newspaper or a drop cloth to protect your work space?
Advent Countdown Candles
Last year I read The Little Book of Hygge just before the holidays. Hygge is all about a feeling of coziness, being with those that you love, feeling safe, and feeling at home. I loved the book and all of its inspiration for a simpler more mindful way of life. The chapter on Christmas was lovely. I was particularly interested in the Danish tradition of Advent Countdown Candles.
Candles in general are a major element of Hygge, and at Christmas time this is especially true. The Advent Countdown Candle is marked like a ruler with the numbers 1-24 running down the candle. Each day a section of the candle is burned until you reach Christmas eve. It is a lovely tradition.
Last year I scoured the internet to find these candles. Most were decorated with garish holiday decoration that did not really mesh with my holiday decor. I relented and ordered some that arrived bent, possibly melted in transit. After returning them I located the perfect Advent Countdown Candle from Georg Jensen. I ordered several to give as gifts to my pre-holiday birthday friends/family. I loved the tradition of lighting my candle every evening and seeing it became smaller as December ticked by. The one downside was the 75 hour burn time the candle required. That’s 3 hours per day to make it to the bottom by December 25th! With a busy schedule this was hard for many to accomplish. The candle was also quite pricey.
I knew a slender taper candle would make a much more feasable Advent Countdown Candle. I was determined to find a better option than the gaudy holiday ones on the market. I figured a DIY version would be perfect since I could pick my own candle color and size! I was even able to reuse some candles I had on hand and thrift some others. Etsy to the rescue!
Wintertime Crafts makes easy to apply number decals that can be added to candles to create your own Advent Countdown Candle. They come in two different sizes and four different styles. The perfect solution! And the best part? You get a set of four for just $4.00!
For supplies I purchased an inexpensive package of white taper candles at Home Goods. I then found a mix of colored tapers at Goodwill. I also decided to purchase many candle stick holders to give with the candles. I found a huge variety of candle stick holders at Goodwill for around $1.00-$2.00 each.
The Advent Countdown Candles came together very easily. The number transfers need to be soaked in warm water for 10 seconds before you peel the backing off and place them on the candles. It was fun to try them on the different colored candles.
They will make an amazing homemade gift that can be enjoyed all month long. Bonus: by shopping at Goodwill the gift was extremely inexpensive coming together for less than $4.00 per candle and holder!
Pom Pom Essential Oil Diffusers
The second homemade gift we made is a nice alternative to disposable and chemical-filled car air fresheners. We found this idea on A Beautiful Mess. This project required ordering some materials online. We found wool balls from Grace and Marie on Etsy and tiny colorful tassels on Amazon. Kate already had the clothespins, needles, and embroidery thread we needed. I bought a set of essential oils to split up and include one bottle with each diffuser.
The pom pom diffusers were easy to make and picking out color combinations of the wood balls and tassels was a lot of fun. Grab a big needle, thread on some embroidery thread, and start assembling! Full instructions can be found here.
What homemade gifts are you making this year? Have you ever seen an advent countdown candle before? Would you use an essential oil diffuser in your car? Comment below, send us a message, or reach out on Facebook or Instagram! Making these gifts was part of earning the Eco-Holiday Hero badge. You can find the badge guide and worksheets to help you complete it here.
Interested in learning more about making sustainable changes to your holiday traditions? Take our Eco Holiday Challenge and commit to doing better this year. Register to receive tips and inspiration in your inbox here.