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DIY holiday gifts

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Reed Diffuser Bath Salts Nut or Seed Butter 

Reed Diffuser

Certain aromas have powerful associations with the holidays. But many of the sugarplum-scented candles and gingerbread air fresheners available in stores contain artificial fragrances that can pose myriad health risks. Swap the store-bought options for all-natural scents using this simple technique. It requires only a handful of materials — no flame or electricity needed.

DIY reed diffuser


  • 1 8-oz. glass jar
  • ¼ cup carrier oil (such as sweet-almond, olive, or fractionated coconut oil)
  • 1 tbs. rubbing alcohol
  • 20–30 drops essential oils
  • 4–6 reed-diffuser sticks or bamboo skewers
  1. Pour your carrier oil, rubbing alcohol, and essential oils into the glass jar. Stir or shake to combine.
  2. If you’re using bamboo skewers, trim the pointy ends. Place the diffuser sticks in your jar.
  3. Turn the sticks over every few days to expose the ends that have been in the liquid to air. This will help refresh the scent.

Tip: Mix the oils and alcohol in a jar with a lid or cork, and present it with a handful of reeds.

Give one of these holiday blends a try:

Cozy and Spicy Blend


  • 10 drops cinnamon
  • 10 drops sweet orange
  • 4 drops clove bud
Woodsy Blend


  • 10 drops frankincense
  • 10 drops cedarwood
  • 4 drops fir-needle
Pumpkin Pie Blend


  • 8 drops cardamom
  • 6 drops cinnamon
  • 4 drops clove bud
  • 2 drops nutmeg

Winter Herbs Blend


  • 8 drops rosemary
  • 6 drops sage
  • 4 drops thyme
  • 2 drops black pepper

Bright and Fresh Blend


  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 10 drops bergamot
  • 4 drops cypress

Bath Salts

A good soak in a hot bath infused with Epsom salts and aromatics relaxes the body and soothes the senses. You can buy a variety of bath salts, but they are easy to make at home. Even better, you can customize homemade versions with your favorite essential oils. Follow these tips to make a batch for your next bath, or package it in a jar with a festive bow to give as a gift this holiday season.

how to make your own bath salts
  • 1 quart-size canning jar (or four 8-oz. jars for gift-giving)
  • 2 ½ cups Epsom salts, extra fine
  • ¼ cup pink or white sea salt, medium grain (optional)
  • ¼ cup pink or white sea salt, coarse grain (optional)

Add-Ins for Relaxation

  • 1–2 ml (about 20–40 drops) essential oil, such as lavender or rose
  • 3 tbs. dried lavender
  • 3 tbs. cornflower or rose petals or other dried flowers

Add-Ins for Energizing

  • 1–2 ml (about 20–40 drops) essential oil, such as grapefruit, orange, lemon, or peppermint
  • Dried zest from one orange, grapefruit, or lemon
  • 2 tbs. dried herbs, such as rosemary or mint
  1. Mix salts together in a large bowl.

  2. Add oil, dried flowers or zest, and herbs, if using, and stir well.

  3. Store in glass jars. Your salts will keep ­indefinitely, but fragrances will begin to fade after six months.

Tip: To use, place in a sachet to retain dried flowers and prevent clogged pipes.

Nut or Seed Butter

homemade nut seed butter
  • 3 cups raw nuts or seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, or sunflower seeds)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

Mix-Ins (optional; pick one or more from the list below)

  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbs. cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • 3–4 tbs. coconut oil (for a smoother nut butter)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread the raw nuts or seeds on a large, rimmed sheet pan and bake until fragrant and toasted, about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Allow the nuts to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Add the roasted nuts to a food processor and process until creamy, about 10 to 15 minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides as necessary. Do this in stages, three to four minutes at a time, with breaks in between so your food processor doesn’t overheat.
  4. Add salt and any other mix-ins and process until combined. For a smoother, creamier result, add coconut oil and process once more.
  5. Scoop nut or seed butter into a clean canning jar and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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