I think we are hard wired to ‘make and create’, from cooking and home-making to incredible art and inventions; the deep rooted sense of satisfaction is hard to beat.  Recently, when I was speaking at a WI in Essex I was asked to ‘judge’ (in the loosest possible term) a selection of handmade items. The table was groaning under the weight of the sheer volume and diversity of talent on display –immaculate quilts, decorated enamelled plates and a gin-soaked sloe berry chocolate bar – impossible to choose.

There is so much that can be made so what better place to start than making presents?

It’s a given that any present  a child makes is wonderful – but over the age of 18 it’s got to have a bit of pazazz, and be something the receiver may actually like. Some of the favourite ones I’ve received over the years are:  a hand knitted scarf, sloe gin, truffles in an old tin and shortbread biscuits beautifully wrapped in cellophane.

As those of you who read my Home Remedy column in The Lady will know, my area of knowledge is in the natural cosmetic and health field, and this lends itself to making great presents.

If you’re already a dab hand at making culinary gifts then cosmetics gifts are easy – it’s often just like cooking or assembling ingredients and then making them look great.

Here are a few of my favourite and easy presents to make.

Have fun making and please let me know how you get on or if you have any top tips to share.

 bath salts

Homemade Bath Salts:

These are super easy and are all natural with no ‘anti-caking’ agents or preservatives. The sea salt is full of the mineral benefits of the sea  and the lavender is calming, antiseptic and soothing.

You will need:

  • Fine Sea salt – local health shops are often much cheaper for this in bulk than supermarkets. Fine salt dissolves more easily in the bath than granular salt.
  • Lavender essential oil – a small bottle of this will go a very long way
  • Clean old jars
  • Lavender sprigs or petals if you have them (again local health shops often sell these).


Decide how many jars you want to make, then tip the amount of salt needed to fill all your jars into a bowl, break up any lumps, add about 10 drops of essential oil per jar and stir well, ensuring all the salt has absorbed the oil. Then if you like add a spoonful of lavender petals per jar, or just a sprig for decoration.

Label & add ribbon at will!


Homemade Body scrubs:

This is a variation on the bath salts – you need the same ingredients but also need oil too.

You can change the essential oil for a different effect – I quite like a mix of mint and citrus for an invigorating body scrub. Be careful with these essential oils as they are pretty strong and only a few drops are needed.

The oil can be as simple as your standard sunflower cooking oil – it does the job perfectly. Or you can branch out and try more exotic oils like rose oil, calendula oil (marigold) or basic sweet almond oil. If you have been following my ‘Home Remedy’ column  you will know how to make your own mint or calendula oil – which will be wonderful to use as it will have a beautiful pale green or yellow colour.


Again you tip the salt into a bowl and this time add enough oil to get a consistency like wet sand, stir well and then add a few drops of your chosen essential oil till you like the smell.

Body scrubs shouldn’t be used on chapped or broken skin as you can imagine they will sting!


orange pomadors

Orange pomander

This not only makes great presents but I love these as festive decorations.

Choose small firm oranges – the bigger ‘looser’ ones shrivel much more!

I know it is tempting just to scatter a few cloves into the orange – and this looks fine if all you want is a short term decoration – but this won’t last, as the cloves are a natural preservative so the more cloves the longer the orange lasts. The trick is before you start with the cloves, mark with pen on the orange where you want the ribbon to go so you can leave a gap, then put the cloves in close together with only a little of the orange showing