Make it a meaningful Christmas 

REduce waste

During the silly season it’s easy to get caught up in the culture of consumerism, but if you want to pump the brakes, slow down and make it a meaningful Christmas, Hannah Turner has some simple handmade gifts you could make at home that won’t hurt your hip pocket or the planet.  

Make it a merry kiss-mas  

A glass jar of lip balm

Make sure your loved ones are ready to stand under the mistletoe with this simple DIY lip balm recipe packaged into recyclable or compostable containers! This DIY is cheap, cheerful, full of natural ingredients and can be festively flavoured with cinnamon, clove or peppermint!  


  • 1 part beeswax (or candelilla wax for a plant-based option) 
  • 1 part jojoba oil 
  • 1 part shea butter 
  • Container of choice – compostable cardboard tubes, old lip balm containers or reusable glass jars.
  • Optional: A few drops of scented essential oils such as lavender or for something festive, experiment with peppermint, orange, clove or cinnamon. Honey and vanilla also make a tasty treat for your lips. 
  • Optional: A little red clay or natural beeswax crayon to add natural colour to your lip balm. 


  1. In a glass bowl over simmering water, melt all three ingredients until combined. Alternatively, carefully melt in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring regularly.  
  1. Add optional essential oils and red clay or natural beeswax crayon to the mix once melted. 
  1. Being mindful of the hot mixture, pour carefully into your container of choice and allow to sit until cool and opaque. 
  1. Pop any excess lip balm mix into a spare jar. Leftovers can be remelted in the future and poured into tubes or jars. 

This Christmas cookie mix in a jar can be made using most of the ingredients you already have in your cupboard! Simply recycle an old jar around 750g or thrift one at your local op shop, soak it in boiling water and vinegar to get the label off, then layer the dry ingredients inside. All the recipient has to do is add the wet ingredients and bake – just be sure to pop the instructions below either on a gift tag or in their Christmas card. Then decorate the jar top with off cuts of fabric, packaging or wrapping paper and/or ribbon.  


  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour  
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder  
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda  
  • ¼ teaspoon salt  
  • 1 180g bag of Holiday M&M’s  
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed  
  • ½ cup white sugar 


Assembling jars: 

  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, then pour into the bottom of the jar using a funnel.  
  • Layer in the M&M’s gently, so that they don’t sink.  
  • Top the M&M’s with brown sugar, and then white sugar  
  • Pop the lid on and decorate with ribbon and fabric. 

Recipe to include with the jar on a Christmas card or gift tag: 

  • In a large bowl, whisk ½ cup of melted and cooled unsalted butter, 1 large egg, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Add the contents of the jar and gently stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined (dough will be crumbly). Chill for 30 minutes.  
  • Form golf ball sized portions of dough, pressing firmly as you form the ball. Place the dough balls onto lined baking trays. Bake at 180 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are set and the centers of the cookies are still slightly underdone.  

Create your own Christmas candles 

Candle surrounded by tinsel

Nothing says Christmas like the smell of gingerbreads, so here is a scentsational way to give the gift of festive fragrance, using old equipment you already have in your kitchen. If you don’t want your kitchen wares covered in wax, head to the op shop and while you’re there find some unique glasses to make candles with. 


  • Saucepan 
  • Heat resistant jug for melting 
  • Kitchen scales 
  • Stirring stick 
  • Wick holder – a iceblock sitck with a hole in the middle or pegs to keep it standing up straight 
  • Stick thermometer  
  • Newspaper to cover your kitchen benches to protect them 


  • Soy wax – Advanced Eco Soya wax is recommended  
  • Gingerbread fragrance oil or any other fragrance oil of your choice 
  • Wicks that are the right width based on the diameter of the jar to ensure that it burns optimally and safely 
  • Wick tabs or a hot glue gun to stick the wick to the bottom of the jar 
  • Thrifted jars 


  1. Work out how much wax you need for your jar by placing jar on the scales and zeroing the scales and then fill the jar with water to give you the measurement in grams of your jar. Based on this measurement you’ll need 90% wax and 10% fragrance eg. For a 100g jar you’ll fill it with 90g wax and 10g of fragrance. For the mathematically challenged here’s a link to a candle making calculator. 
  1. Fill saucepan with water and bring it to a simmer. 
  1. Sit your melting pot on the scales and zero it and then place your wax in the pot to make sure you have the right amount of wax. 
  1. Place the thermometer in the melting pot then put the melting pot in the saucepan of hot water 
  1. Melt the wax to 80 degrees.  
  1. While the wax is melting, clean your jar and stick your wick to the bottom of your jar in the centre with wick tabs or a hot glue gun, ensuring the wick length is higher than the jar. 
  1. Take the melting pot and place on scales (zeroing the scales again) and then slowly add in the 10% of fragrance oil.  
  1. Gently mix for 2-3 minutes with your stirring stick. 
  1. Let it cool to 60 degrees 
  1. Give it another stir and then slowly pour to prevent large air bubbles from forming, filling the jar to 1cm below the top. 
  1. Place your wick holder on the top of the jar to hold the wick in the centre of the jar while it sets – leave it for 24 hours at least. 
  1. Trim the wick to 5mm above the wax. 
  1. Let your candle rest for 7-10 days before burning so the fragrance settles throughout the wax.   

Make it a meaty Christmas

Bowl full of spices

Meat rub

The holiday season is great for coming together with friends and loved ones to break bread and share great food. For the BBQ-lovers in your life, why not put together a small jar of spices to be used as a meat-rub at your next get-together. The recipe below has a bit of a kick and is perfect for slow-cooked pork and chicken.  

Ingredients (to make two small jars) 

  • 1/3 cup good quality salt  
  • 1/3 cup peppercorns 
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder 
  • 2 tablespoons garlic flakes  
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika 
  • 1 tablepoon brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 


  • In a pepper grinder or electric coffee/spice grinder if you have it, grind the peppercorns (and salt if you’re using rock salt). 
  • In a small bowl, mix ground peppercorns together with all other ingredients. 
  • Spoon into small jars, tie with ribbon and they’re ready for gifting.  
Jar of bacon salt

Bacon salt

Looking for a gift for someone who has it all? Consider gifting a small jar of bacon salt. I mean, bacon salt – who isn’t going to love a little jar of salty deliciousness? (Well, maybe not vegetarians and vegans, sorry guys!) 

Ingredients (to make a small jar) 

  • 200g good quality, higher welfare bacon 
  • 2 tablespoons good quality salt 
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns 
  • Dash of liquid smoke (optional) or 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional) 


  1. Fry strips of bacon until crispy brown. While cooking, add a dash of liquid smoke or paprika if you want a smokier taste (optional). 
  1. When bacon is crispy, blot with paper towel to remove excess oil and allow to cool.  
  1. Add to a food processor together with the salt and pepper. Process until the bacon is finely ground.  
  1. Spoon into a small jar, tie with a ribbon and it’s ready for gifting.  

Store in the fridge, it’s good for up to 3 weeks.  

Make it a merry thrift-mas 

a selection of gifts

Skip your local shopping mall and try thrifting some second-hand goods at your local op shop! Aside from saving you a lot of coin, there are so many good reasons for thrifting gifts this Christmas; it’ll be personalised, quirky and unique, you’ll be saving things from ending up in landfill just by recycling and you’ll be helping charities at the same time, right when they need the funds most. 

Present ideas: 

  • For the tea-lovers: cute mugs, tea pots or cup and saucer combos and throw in a box of fancy tea. 
  • For the creatives: books, art and art supplies, sewing machines, haberdashery and old records.
  • For the fasionistas: men’s shirts, dresses, vintage handbags, wallets and clutches, scarfs, bow-ties or jewellery
  • For the besties: 90s DVDs like Clueless, wine or martini glasses, or a cute vase finished off with a bunch of Christmas flowers or Eucalyptus foliage. 
  • For the kids: baby’s shoes, toys and board games. 
  • For the Mums, Dads, Grandparents: recycle some photo frames and pop ultra-cute pictures of yourself in them!

Dried orange slices 

dried orange slices

The silly season means cocktail season! Why not make your friends and family some dried orange slices to use as drink garnishes, decorate cakes, dip in chocolate or snack on as is. Dried orange slices are also perfect to use as decorations or cute additions to your gift wrapping (and in that case, follow the same process, but omit the sugar-spice mix). These thoughtful gifts require a bit of planning and time to dehydrate, but they’re sure to be well-received.  


  • 4 oranges 
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, such as raw sugar, coconut sugar (we used monk fruit sugar) 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder 
  • ½ teaspoon clove powder 


  1. Preheat oven to 100 degrees Celsius.  
  1. Mix together the sugar and spices in a small bowl. 
  1. Thinly slice oranges around 3-4mm thick. Take care to cut as uniformly as possible to ensure they dehydrate at an even pace.  
  1. Lay the slices out on trays lined with baking paper and lightly sprinkle with the sugar-spice mix.  
  1. Place trays in the oven for 3 hours or until they are completely dry.  Turn the slices every 1.5 hours (and resprinkle with sugar-spice mix) to ensure an even dehydration. 
  1. When the orange slices are dry, remove from the oven. You might find that some slices feel slightly moist but will dry completely when cooled.  
  1. Present the slices in a cute air-tight jar or container, tied with a nice ribbon.  

Note: The dried orange slices will be edible for up to two years and can be used as decorations for as long as you like. 

Hair care for your bearded friends

A bottle of yellow beard oil

This DIY oil blend recipe is not only great for keeping your friend’s beards at their best, it also works wonders on your hair! All you need is a mixture of nourishing oils such as jojoba, argan, castor, apricot kernel, sweet almond, coconut or sunflower seed oil and a recycled pump or dropper bottle! Essential oils are a great addition, not only for their beautiful scents but their many health benefits. Rosemary oil, for example stimulates hair growth, is anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating.  


  • 2 parts Jojoba Oil 
  • 2 parts Argan oil 
  • 1 part Castor oil 
  • Container of choice, pump bottle or dropper is recommended 


  1. Using a funnel, add the 3 oils to a bottle of your choice. Shake the bottle gently to mix.  
  1. Add a few drops to clean hands, rub between warm hands and massage into your beard (or hair). 

The author

Hannah Turner

Hannah works at Brisbane Sustainability Agency in the marketing team delivering sustainable events to help create a clean and green city. When she’s not in the office you’ll most likely find her thrifting at an op shop in Brisbane somewhere!

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