It’s hard to beat the thought, care, and individual touch that goes into a homemade gift. Some people may frown upon handmade presents as inexpensive, or as last-minute options for those whose gifts we’ve forgotten in our haste. But we know this isn’t true. Giving should be about personalization and about making sure that the gifts you offer reflect your love or appreciation for the recipient.
After a quick stop by the store for the essentials, you’ll be able to put together this bath lover’s gift basket. Using the following recipes, you’ll combine Epsom and sea salts with healing herbs and essential oils for their soothing effects; add fragrant and beneficial flower petals to a lovely handmade sachet; or blend heady scents into a skin-softening body oil.
Pair these incredibly simple and luxurious recipes with an aromatic candle, fluffy towel, and bottle of wine to assemble an individualized spa package for a loved one. For a slightly more substantial gift, you can even throw in a novel or audiobook you know they’d love to help them pass the time during a relaxing bath! Once everything’s arranged in an artful, lovely basket, you have a thoughtful way to remind those who spend the holidays on their feet to slow down and pamper themselves.
Scented Bath Sachets
When I suggest scattering fresh petals in your bathwater, it’s for the romantic and luxurious effect it creates. But for serious bathers interested in receiving the therapeutic benefits of those petals, I would advise making bath sachets. They’re simple to create and can be used over and over until their scent is gone.
I like to use a natural muslin material for my sachets, but any scrap of pretty cotton fabric will do. If you fill a large jar with several of these sachets, you’ll have a luxurious present for someone special. Yield: 6 ounces.
- 3 tablespoons oat flour
- 1/2 cup fresh flower petals or herb leaves
- 3 pieces of natural material, each 6 inches square
- 3 lengths of cotton string, each 12 inches long
- In a bowl, mix together the oat flour and flower petals or herb leaves.
- Place a piece of material on a flat surface, and spoon one-third of the dry mixture into the center. Gather up the ends and tie them closed with the string. Place sachets in an airtight container.
To use: Float one of your sachets in the bath as you fill the tub, squeezing it every now and then.
You may also use it to scrub and freshen your skin as you bathe.
Bath salts are some of the easiest recipes to make, and some of my most popular. They’re wonderful and welcome gifts for just about everyone, and you can tailor scents and colors for each recipient.
Besides soothing tired bodies and softening skin, these salts are easier on the bathtub than other products. They’re ideal bath additives because they actually help keep your tub clean; they’re so soluble in water that they don’t leave any residues behind. Because of this, bath salts are often recommended by jetted tub manufacturers. Some say they also soften hard water and keep your bathwater warmer for longer.
The following are a few of my favorite methods for making bath salts. Start with a basic salt mix of 1 cup Epsom salts and 1 cup rock salt (you can use kosher salt, sea salt, or any natural rock salt). You can easily find natural salts at the grocery store. Yield: 16 ounces, enough for 4 baths.
Colored salts: You can successfully color your salts with natural vegetable dyes, such as beet juice. Place your salts in a large glass bowl or resealable plastic bag. Add a few drops of color and stir well, or massage the bag until the color is well-mixed. If you desire a darker shade, add more color. If your color is too dark, add more salt. Be careful when making very dark salts; until they’re diluted in bathwater, they may stain light-colored towels and clothing. Once added to your bath, they won’t stain your skin or tub. My daughters used to make “rainbow” salts, layering several different colors inside glass jars. They make a great gift and are fun to use.
Scented salts: You can add fragrance to your natural salts as well as color. The method is the same as when adding color. Simply stir or massage scented oils into your salt mixture. Make a scented oil by diluting a few drops of essential oil in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil, such as olive or sunflower. You won’t need much to scent a batch of salts. You may also combine essential oils to create your own special blends. For example, create bath time tranquility with a blend of sweet orange and vanilla.
Foaming salts: You can make bath salts foam in the tub by adding mild liquid soap to the mixture. To do this, mix your color and/or scent into the liquid soap before stirring it into the salt mixture. I use 1/4 cup liquid soap for every 2 cups salt. Mix the soap with your salt, and then spread the mixture on a clean cookie sheet and allow it to air-dry completely. To speed up this process, place the salts in a low-temperature oven or food dehydrator. When your salts are completely dry, pour them into an airtight container.
Herbal salts: Adding dried herbs and flower petals to your basic mix gives your bath salts a different look as well as a wonderfully natural feel. You’ll also receive the many benefits that adding herbs to your bath can provide. I like to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of a dried herb (or combination of herbs) to every 2 cups of the basic salt mixture. It’s important that you use dried ingredients rather than fresh when making these salts. Fresh leaves and petals wilt when they come into contact with salt, releasing unwanted moisture into your mixture.
To use any of these bath salts: Add about 1/2 cup of bath salts to your tub under the running water. Store in dry, airtight containers.
Hindu Love Potion
Jasmine flowers are a Hindu symbol of love. Their scent is a mental stimulant that increases the brain’s beta wave activity, signaling excitement and well-being. The warm, spicy, and slightly heady scent of this oil makes it the perfect potion for a romantic evening massage or after-bath moisturizer. If you don’t have jasmine growing in your yard, use jasmine tea made from dried flowers. Yield: 8 ounces.
- 2 teaspoons dried jasmine flowers
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split
- 3 whole clove buds
- 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
- 1 cup light sesame oil
- Place the jasmine, vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon stick in a clean glass bottle or jar. Pour the sesame oil over these ingredients, and seal the top.
- Let the mixture sit for 1 to 2 weeks. You may leave the dried flowers and spices inside your bottle (the scent of your oil will continue to increase), or strain out the solids before using.
To use: Massage into warm skin during massage or after bathing.
Recipes excerpted from Natural Beauty from the Garden by Janice Cox, published by Ogden Publications, 2018.