Gift giving guidelines

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Have you ever found yourself racking your brain over what gift to give your friends?  I used to spend so much time running around the mall, going in and out of different stores and praying for inspiration. I have finally come up with a little guideline to help me give that may not be perfect, but is one that tells them they are special to me.

These are some general questions I ask myself when coming up with an idea:

What are her hobbies?
- Exercise
- Reading
- Cooking
 
Is she going through an extra stressful time?

Answers to these questions are a great way to get started on putting together a fun gift. I will break down Gift Types for you and list what I have put together in each one. The one thing I always include is something I make. It's usually a hand cream, massage oil or body scrub and the blend of essential oils depends on her preference or maybe a blend that suits what is going on in her life at the time. A homemade gift can be given individually or included with other items if you are going to go a little overboard, which, of course I've NEVER done! Except maybe all the time, but I digress. All of the recipes for the items listed are supplied at the end of this article. Keep in mind that you don't have to include ALL of the items I list; one or two would be fine. The point is you want to make your friend feel like you came up with something special just for her.

Gym Rat
For that friend who loves, hates or feels compelled to exercise at the gym, at home or on our beautiful hiking trails.

Pre-Exercise Oil
Post-Exercise Oil
Shower Gel
Aches and Pains Bath Salts
Luscious Body Lotion
Four-Thieves Air Mist
Bar towels
Small case to carry all the items

I found a blend for pre and post exercise oil that several of my friends love. They say the pre-exercise oil makes them smell good and helps get those muscles ready to exercise The post-exercise oil does the same as well as feels good after a good workout. The bath soak is for the days where a new exercise has been introduced or it's been a while and the muscles are crying for attention. A nice, hot bath with the salts is a great remedy. The four-thieves oil and bar towels are to be used on the exercise machines. I have mentioned the anti-bacterial benefits of the four-thieves blend before. Spraying some on a bar towel not only removes the sweat from the machines, it also cleans away any bacteria. The blend used in the shower gel and lotion is up to you. I seem to use lemongrass the most since it's light and not too sweet.

Book Nut
This is that friend who always seems to have a book in her purse, belongs to more than one book club, and is constantly recommending books because she has a book for That (whatever's going on in their lives at the time). Oh, jeez, I think I just described myself! Well, I'm not the only one!

Book bag: I have found some really nice ones at Barnes and Noble or Borders.

Book light: This is handy for those friends who's husbands don't like them reading in bed with the light on. And handy when on trips and there's not a lamp on their side of the bed (one of my pet peeves!).

Gift card from a favorite bookstore: Any amount is fine. I even get excited if I get one for only $5! And a gift card from a little boutique bookstore is fun, too. Those are real nice places to browse and find little treasures.

Favorite book to share: This can be fiction or nonfiction, inspirational, spiritual or just plain fun.  Something you have read and feel a need to share with your good friend. 

If you have a friend who seems to do a lot of driving (commutes a long ways to work or is shuttling the little darlings all over the place) an audio book might be right up her alley! She can do the driving and enjoy a book at the same time.

Luscious Lotion: Just cuz. I like to add a homemade item and we all can use something luscious, right?

Kitchen Diva
Do you have a friend who always seems elbow-deep in some food item and chops celery at the speed of light? The one who has The Food Network on 24/7? Here are a few things you might consider.

Buy her a gift card from her favorite grocery store or an upscale one (like A.J.'s or Whole Foods) just for fun.

Often-used items for holidays or if they have a big event coming up; cheese cloth, bar towels, wooden spoons, or small containers for prepped recipe items.

Luscious Lotion, dish soap and air mist. Since working in the kitchen requires a constant dunking of the hands in water, a little luscious lotion comes in handy. I use tea tree oil (a good anti-bacterial) and lemongrass blend for the soap. The air mist is to get rid of all those funky kitchen smells that seem to creep up. Again, lemongrass is what I usually use.

I buy holiday-themed kitchen towels or ones that match her decor and wrap up all the items in one or two of them.

Stressed Friend
Bath Salts
Shower Gel
Sugar Scrub
Body Cream

We all have those times where every day life seems just a tad more challenging. Whether it's an illness that is being dealt with, the dog won't stop throwing up or the kids seems to be passing the same flu bug back and forth for the second or (God forbid!) third time, sometimes our friend needs a little something to let them know we understand and are thinking of them. I put one or more of the listed items together that are made with a blend that encourages calm, bliss and/or clarity. A nice bath soak with the salts is always a nice way to wash away a particular crazy day. The sugar scrub is a wonderful exfoliate as well as a great moisturizer. If I know their favorite music, I might include a CD to be enjoyed, hopefully by themselves in a quiet room!

These are just a few suggestions. There are also those friends who are the Green Thumb Goddess of the Garden, the Macha Sports Mom (aka: Soccer Mom), Music Lover, and, well, you get the idea.

I try to focus on all that is part of their life and then narrow it down to just one thing. Then I start thinking of different things I feel would be appropriate and add one or two homemade items. In the beginning, it was difficult to do this, but after years (and years!) of practice, I have been able to think of gifts that are special for my Special Friend.

Pre-Exercise Body Oil
2 ounces almond oil
8 drops rosemary essential oil
4 drops lavender essential oil
4 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Combine ingredients and store in plastic or glass jar. Apply before exercising.

Post-exercise Body Oil
2 ounces almond oil
8 drops lavender essential oil
4 drops juniper essential oil
4 drops rosemary essential oil

Mix ingredients together and store in plastic or glass bottle. Apply after exercising to ease sore muscles.

Shower Gel
4 oz Glycerin non-scent soap
20 drops  essential oil of your choice.

Combine ingredients in a plastic bottle.

Aches and Pains Bath Soak
1 cup epsom salts
10 drops lavender essential oil
8 drops marjoram essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil

Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container. Sprinkle in bath water and soak for 15 minutes. Try to make the water as hot as possible for best results. A way to accomplish this is run the bath partway with water as hot as you can take it and after you are used to it, run hot water into tub slowly while you soak.

This soak also works well for those suffering from cramps and achiness from flu and colds. It helps clear up congestion as well as work out those toxins.

Luscious Lotion
6 ounces lotion, unscented
1/4 teaspoon vitamin e oil
1 1/2 ounces jojoba oil
1/4 teaspoon essential oil, of your choice

Put all ingredients in a measuring cup and stir well. Adjust consistency, if desired, by adding more jojoba oil as needed. Add essential oils and mix well with spoon or whisk. Using a funnel, pour finished lotion into bottle.

Four Thieves Air Mist
3 1/2 ounces water, distilled or filtered
1/2 ounce witchhazel
7 drops eucalyptus
7 drops rosemary
7 drops cinnamon
7 drops clove
7 drops lemon

In 4 ounce bottle, mix in water and witchhazel. Carefully measure essential oils directly in the bottle. Shake well before each use.

Bath Salts
1/4 cup powdered buttermilk
1/4 cup sea salt, coarse
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup Epsom salt
1/4 cup baking soda
1 tsp essential oil

Place first five ingredients in bowl. Mix with spatula or whisk until fully incorporated. Add fragrance a little at a time stirring the whole time. Store salts in air-tight container. Another way to add the essential oils is place the oils on a cotton ball and bury it in the middle of the bath salts. Leave for 24 hours, then remove. Shake or stir bath salts to make sure oils are completely incorporated.

Sugar Scrub
2 1/2 cups sugar, white or brown
1/2 cup almond oil, or jojoba, avocado
2 TBS honey
1 teaspoon essential oil, own personal choice

Mix ingredients thoroughly in a glass bowl. Store in air-tight container.

Body Cream
4 oz unscented body cream
20 drops essential oil of your choice.

Put body cream in bowl and add essential oil. Blend with spoon or whisk until oils are completely incorporated. Put cream in jar or small bottle and label.