Everyday Cheapskate: A homemade gift you'd actually love to receive

With the biggest gifting season of the year behind us, you may be breathing a big sigh of relief, and rightly so. It feels great to know you have eleven months to get ready for the next go-around, right? Not so fast. Your gifting breather may be short-lived, as the spring gifting season is just around the corner.

I'm talking about holidays like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter. Spring is the season for bridal showers, baby showers and graduations, not to mention the unending parade of birthdays and other occasions for celebration. It does seem as though there is no end to the situations and occasions that we need a small and understated but lovely gift. I have a wonderful solution for your consideration.

Gifting friends, family members, co-workers, teachers and others with your own signature hand and body lotion will definitely put you on the map. It's that good.

Not particularly crafty? No worries. If you can assemble, empty, stir and mix well, you've got what it takes to make dozens of these gifts start to finish in a single evening. The best part is it costs about $3.50 per gift depending on where you buy the ingredients and containers.

Here's the routine: Purchase the ingredients, mix them together, divide between your choice of small containers, apply a label or gift tag and embellish with a ribbon. There you go. Done in no time.

HAND AND BODY LOTION

– Any 8-ounce tube of Bath & Body Works Ultra Shea Body Cream (This year, I'm using its new fragrance, A Thousand Wishes, because it is fabulous. It costs about $12. You need this high-quality shea cream as the base for your product.)

– Any brand 4-ounce jar vitamin E cream (costs about $6)

– Any brand 18-ounce fragrance-free baby lotion (costs about $6)

– Any brand 32-ounce fragrance-free hand lotion (costs about $7)

– One 4.5-ounce tube Vaseline Jelly Cream (costs about $4)

– Any 4-ounce lotion jars with lids (costs about $14 per dozen)

– Large mixing bowl.

– Electric mixer or hand whisk.

– Gallon-size zip-close bag or other plastic bag.

INSTRUCTIONS

– Empty the five ingredients into the bowl.

– Using an electric hand mixer or whisk, mix together until well-incorporated, or about five minutes.

– Fill a large zip-close bag with the lotion. Close the top. Using scissors, snip off a small portion of one of the bottom corners to create a simple piping bag.

– Fill your jars or containers by gently squeezing the lotion from the piping bag.

– Give your signature lotion a name. Create small labels or tags with your message of choice.

– Embellish as desired.

That's it. You've got beautiful homemade gifts that will be very well-received due to their high quality. Because all of the ingredients except for the shea cream are unscented or nearly so, your lotion will have a very light, subtle fragrance, not overpowering or offensive but simply lovely.

This recipe, as stated, yields about 16 4-ounce jars of fine hand and body lotion. You can find pictures and links to products at www.everydaycheapskate.com/bodylotion. Your volume may vary depending on how long and vigorously you whip the lotion. Be careful to not make it too fluffy. I find that no more than five minutes is ideal.

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