Don't run away. You can do this.
Get back here! You can SO DO THIS. It will cost you about $20, take two evenings tops, and in the end you will have awesome homemade gifts to give to teachers, babysitters, friends and aunts.
I know, you have two questions: when do I have time? (I won't answer that) and how do I come up with these things? (I will answer that!) This particular idea came from The Binder. It holds all the cool ideas I find in mags like Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple, most of which I'll never end up doing, but it's nice to know they're there.
One of the things I've actually done is this peppermint stripe soap. Panda gave them as teacher gifts one year, and this year it's Redman's turn to make them.
The materials are readily available at any craft store: head toward the section for candlemaking, the soap stuff is usually right next door. You will need:
- A pack of white glycerine soap
- A pack of clear glycerine soap
- Peppermint soap fragrance OR peppermint essential oil. Essential oil you will probably need to get at a health food store, but may be worth the extra trip for you because its fragrance is superior to the synthetic soap stuff.
- Red and white soap coloring. Red food coloring also works. The white is NOT necessary, it's just that the red layers tend to bleed into the white ones, so I like to give the white a little boost.
- 2 cheap microwave safe measuring cups
- 2 mini-loaf pans
- Popsicle sticks or wooden skewers for stirring
- A spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol
You will need 1/4 cup glycerine for each layer of soap. The glycerine usually comes pre-scored and through trial-and-error we found that 3 squares = 1/4 cup.
Cut 3 squares of white glycerine into smaller pieces, place in measuring cup and microwave at 20 second intervals until completely melted.
Add about 20 drops of synthetic fragrance to melted glycerine and stir. If using essential oil, add 5 drops at a time until you get the level of scent you want. Remember every white layer will have fragrance added so less is more.
Pour white soap slowly into one loaf pan—the slow pour avoids bubbles. Cut off another 3 squares of white, repeat process to fill other loaf pan. Let pans sit about 15 minutes to set.
Take a fork and score the surface of the white layer, lengthwise and crossways. Pick out all the little scraps of white, then spray the scored surface with rubbing alcohol. This process helps the layers adhere.
Cut off 3 squares of clear glycerine and melt in microwave. Add red food coloring and stir until it's the shade you want. Pour slowly on top of white layer in one loaf pan. Melt another 3 squares, color, stir and pour into other pan.
Again, let sit for at least 20 minutes. Before adding the next white layer, score with a fork, tap out the shreds and spray with alcohol.
And so repeat, alternating red and white until the pan is filled. Let sit for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, in a cool place.
The soap will release easily from the pan if you put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Hold the pan upside down, pull away the sides, press on the bottom with your thumbs, it should come right out. If it doesn't, I don't know you, this conversation never happened.
Let the soaps come back to room temperature. With a sharp knife, cut the soap into slices, slide into cellophane bags. Martha says to tie with bakery string but I don't know where you procure that. Just tie with whatever you have, make some kind of label and be sure to tout the fact that this is a HANDMADE GIFT.
Store soaps in a cool, dry place until ready to bequeath to someone you love.
You rock. How do you think of these things?