Spread Some Joy and Goodwill by Making a Homemade Gift This Holiday

Nothing seems to be better, especially this year, than cranking up the Christmas tunes while making presents for family and friends. To make these, you’ll only need to buy a couple of small items from the Goodwill and grocery store! And, chances are, most of the people on your list will enjoy one, two, or all three of these perfect little thrifty gifts!

One of the best ideas is to include your children, significant other, or some of your close friends to make the below homemade gifts and spread the joy around to your neighbors or even drop them off to cheer up individuals that may have not been able to get out of the house or are in a long-term care facility.  Spread some joy and happiness and give the gift of GOOD!

You can whip up some candied almond simple syrup for those who like to get creative in the kitchen, or a jar of peppermint + rosemary sugar scrub to keep skin soft all winter long, or even a pomander stovetop simmer that will make any house feel like a cozy little cabin! Don’t forget that you can double, triple, or even quadruple these recipes to make more for a group gift.



This treat will be enjoyed by people who like trying new flavors in their coffee. With very simple ingredients, I’m positive you’ll have almost everything you need to get started already in your cabinets. Just grab a liquid-friendly bottle (or a few!) from Goodwill and a little something to make it feel fancy, like these tiny decorative twigs that I found for just $1.50!


  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract






Combine all the ingredients except for the extracts in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Stir often to prevent burning. When the sugar is completely dissolved, stir in the extracts, then turn off the heat. Allow the syrup to cool then pour into a clean, thrifted decanter with a tight cap. As long as this is capped well, it will last up to a month in the fridge.




Sugar scrubs are a great way to slough off dead skin and moisturize those delicate new layers at the same time.
Even if the person you’re giving to doesn’t have to worry about dry winter skin, the delightful scent of this scrub creates a spa-like experience right at home and it won’t hurt your bank account to whip up!


  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh, chopped rosemary needles
  • Heaping ½ cup of white sugar
  • ½ Tbsp. peppermint extract

Green food coloring (optional if you want a little more color)









Warm the coconut oil in the microwave or on the stovetop just until it has melted. While it’s warming, combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and massage it between your fingers for a few minutes. This will mix the ingredients and encourage the oils from the rosemary to infuse the sugar with their scent. When the oil has melted, pour it a little at a time into the rest of the ingredients and mix with a spoon until combined.

To use, apply the scrub to the skin and massage it in gently to exfoliate. Then, rinse it off with warm water and keep the extra stored tightly for several months.



A stovetop simmer is the potpourri for the 21st century! This pomander-scented one is perfect for the holiday season and makes an ideal gift.


1 – 2 vanilla beans
2 slices of fresh orange
2 cinnamon sticks
10-15 whole cloves
2-3 star anise pods


Use a paring knife to cut your vanilla bean in half widthwise so you have two shorter pieces of the bean. Next, hold the in-tact end of one half of the bean in your hand and slice the long way down the center to open it up keeping the tip that you hold in-tact. Then, while you hold that end of the bean, carefully scrape the knife away from you through the inside of the bean to shave out all the seeds. Do this again to the other side of that pod and put the seeds into a clean, Goodwill thrifted jar.  It should be able to seal tightly, and the mouth needs to be wide enough to get orange slices inside. Do the same for the other half of vanilla bean then add the bean pod and the rest of your ingredients to the jar as well and fill with water.

Allow 24 hours for the ingredients to mingle. You should use it within a week or two by simply pouring it into a small saucepan and simmering on low. It can be reheated again and again until the scent is gone, adding more water whenever it gets low.


And that’s it! Just a trip to the grocery store and your local Goodwill Store will set you up with all the ingredients you need to batch-make some great holiday gifts.
Through its entrepreneurial business model of collecting and selling donated goods, Goodwill Stores help communities extend the life of usable items, like these fancy thrifted jars, in environmentally sound ways and prevent items from piling up in local landfills. Pair that with biodegradable ingredients like oranges and rosemary and you’ve made something special that everyone on your list will enjoy!

Happy Holidays from Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley!


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