Indonesia Expat

The Holiday Guide to Gifts You Can DIY

The holiday season is upon us and even if you yourself are not celebrating, you may know someone who is. This means gifts; you’re going to be giving them and you’re going to be getting them. Now, Jakarta has many shops, with many aisles, filled with many many options but we’ve all been doing this for years and it feels as though anything we would want to buy, we’ve bought already and if we haven’t bought it, someone else has. This year, do something different. Here is a guide to gifts that are sure to be one of a kind and straight from the heart.

It’s the 12th month of this year. This means, it’s probably the 12th month your recycling hasn’t been collected. If you have a cupboard, case or even a closet full of unwanted empty glass jars and bottles, I have the solution. Give them away. But fill them up first. Rather than stocking stuffers, these are ideas for jar fillers.

First, prepare your empty jars (or bottles) by cleaning them with a drop of dish soap and some warm water. Close the jars and shake them. Once the liquid inside is foaming, place all your empty bottles (or jars) into a sink of warm water and leave them to soak for a couple of hours, or as long as it takes for the label strip to do exactly that, strip. Remove them from the water, scrub them dry and voila! These are now shiny, clean and ready to stop occupying your precious storage space.



Now, no one wants to play “pass the jar” around Jakarta, so let’s fill them up and give them a new purpose. For your friend who loves cosmetics and a good pamper session, (or maybe your friend who doesn’t love them enough), make a homemade scrub. Scrubs are extremely simple to make and extremely lovely to receive. You’ll need three basic ingredients: granulated sugar, oil (coconut or olive), and an essential oil of your choice. And follow this basic ratio: one-part sugar to half a part oil and add the essential oil as liberally as you think the recipient would want.

That’s the joy of making it yourself; you can personalise it. If you’re gifting this to someone who’s had a long year and you’re hoping this will help them relax, fill them up a larger jar and use lavender oil. If you want this to be a lip scrub that can go anywhere with your friend, use a small jar (the tiny jam pots I steal from hotels work great), add a little more coconut to loosen the consistency and drop in some orange or peppermint essence. It’s hard to get this wrong. Write your own label, wrap the lid with a ribbon and you’ve saved yourself a headache-inducing trip to the mall.



Have you baked that same, on demand, batch of brownies so many times that you could do it blindfolded and upside down? Or, do you have a recipe that your friends will not stop asking you for? Well, it’s the holidays. Give it to them. If it’s a recipe that you’re willing to share, type or write it up and stick it onto a piece of card to make it feel official. But what makes this gift special is that you’re going to do half the work for them and give them the ingredients too. This idea works best with a baking recipe but can be used for spice mixes as well.

Measure out the correct amounts of all the necessary dry ingredients, for example cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, and layer them into a jar. Try not to mix them up as this looks best when you can see each individual layer. If you have some spare fabric, although wrapping paper works just fine, cut a square out and place over the opening of the jar and then tightly close the lid. Now all your friend has to do is add eggs, or milk, or oil and they can have their favourite food, whenever they please.



These aren’t just for pirates, they’re actually a great gift. I’ve recently seen “I love you because…” books popping up across shops; you read a page a day and each page has a different reason why someone loves you. My idea is to turn the book into a bottle (incidentally, the same idea adopted by first year university students). When you have some free time, get comfortable, grab an (empty) bottle, different coloured pens and a few sheets of paper. First, cut the paper into strips small enough to roll into scrolls that can fit in (and out of) the bottle. Next, on each strip, write something that will make the person you’re giving this to smile; it can be a reason you love them, a memory you share or even something you wish will come true for them that day. Roll each individual strip up and then toss them inside the bottle. You can tie a string around each scroll if you’d like, make them larger if you have fewer things to say, or smaller if your bottle isn’t big enough to fit all your words but, however it’s made, the person who gets it will love it. If you have the cork or cap, close the bottle up and make a label for the front that reads “One a Day”. Each day, someone will shake out a scroll, read it and be reminded of how much they mean to you.

This gift is versatile and isn’t limited to love notes! You can write a new word and definition on each scroll, you could be motivational and make each note an exercise challenge, everyday could be a different song recommendation – the options are pretty limitless.

Perhaps it’s a cliché to say “it’s the thought that counts” but it is also true. Giving someone a gift is already lovely but making someone a gift is truly special.

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