When it comes to the holidays, I will be the first to admit that I LOVE getting gifts. I’m 35 years old and still, I’m up at 6AM to open presents Christmas morning. Both my mom and my hubby are convinced they could wrap an empty box and I would go after it with as much enthusiasm as if it were filled with my favorite wine and pizza. Truthfully, they are probably right.
Aside from my love of opening gifts, I truly enjoy taking time each Christmas to handcraft gifts for my friends and family. While I have yet to find the time to make each and every gift, I do make a point to handcraft at least one item for each person on my list.
Many of my closest friends I have met through my adventures outdoors; hiking partners, Stand Up Paddleboard buddies, and couples my hubby and I go car camping with each summer. This year I wanted to share with each of them a gift they could use on our next outdoor adventure together.
So today on the blog, I’m sharing my top 5 DIY gifts for the outdoor enthusiast. The best part of these DIY gift ideas is their crossover appeal; they can easily be adapted for the traveller in your life, and each gift is easy to complete in an afternoon!
5 DIY Gifts for the Outdoor Enthusiast:
Souvenir Mug Candle
A couple of years ago I started collecting vintage souvenir mugs with graphics of places I had been. And places I wanted to go. And mugs that had such a cool graphic I just couldn’t pass them up. You all know where this is heading; I now have a cabinet full of mugs I need to do something with. Candles always make a great gift, and by using a vintage souvenir mug it adds a fun, personal touch.
For this DIY you need:
- Coffee mug
- Soy wax flakes (Soy burns much cleaner than paraffin)
- Wood wicks (these can be tricky to light, but they crackle and pop, just like a campfire)
- Candle fragrance (as a general rule you need 1 ounce of fragrance for every 1 pound of wax)
Originally I wanted to use essential oils for a 100% pure candle. However, essentials oils I found do not carry enough scent to be noticed in the candle. On my first attempt I used around 30 drops of essential oil and got zero scent out of the candle. If anyone out there has successfully created an essential oil candle, please share your secret!
Much like any DIY I tackle, I try it on my own first, then ask for direction later. I melted my wax, threw in some fragrance, and poured it in the mug. While the candles turned out okay, I learned there are several small details to follow in order to craft a quality candle. Use a candy thermometer to warm the wax to the right temperature. Use a scale to properly measure the weight of your wax. Warm the containers in the oven before pouring in the hot wax so that your end product has a smooth surface, free of air bubbles.
I’m still experimenting with temperatures, types of wicks, and the right amount of fragrance, so once I have it dialed in I will be sure to share a more in depth direction on this DIY.
Wax & Leaves Fire Starter
We all have that one friend on camping trips; the one that is always more than happy to get a roaring fire going. And once the fire is started that same friend is often found poking the flames, throwing in brush and bark, paper towels…anything that will produce a flame. Pyros, this DIY gift is for you!
These fancy fire starters are so incredibly easy, and super useful in the fireplace, or save them for campfires this spring.
For this DIY you need:
- Muffin tin lined with cupcake papers. I recommend using 2 paper liners, as the wax will soak through slightly.
- Heat up your wax (I used what was left from my candle making) and pour into the cupcake liners. *Only fill the liners half way; you want to leave space for the leaves and pinecones*
- Once the wax is poured, place pinecones, dried leaves, and pine needles artfully inside the liner. Let dry overnight.
Seriously, so easy! I love how the dried wax looks like snow covering the ground.
Camp Cocktail Hour
One of my favorite parts of car camping is curling up next to the fire with a good book and a glass of wine. Unfortunately, stemmed glassware isn’t ideal for packing up with the camp supplies. Insulated, stemless wine tumblers are a dime a dozen these days, so I decided to take it a step further and add a custom graphic. This one in particular reads “Lets Get Lit” and is going to our camping friends who love building the fire as much as they love drinking wine. Don’t worry, the fire building always comes before the wine drinking. 🙂
I used my Cricut Explore Air 2 for creating the vinyl graphic. If you do not own a Cricut, a quick search on Etsy will give you plenty of graphic designers that have pre-made decals, or the ability to make a custom graphic for you. I used an Etsy shop last year for a custom decal and it cost me less than $10, even with shipping.
Included with the mug, I will be adding a small bottle of whiskey and an Old Fashioned Pocket Cocktail. These clever little packets have everything you need to create a classic cocktail at your campsite. The packet even has markings to tell you how much water and bourbon to add.
Cigar Box Savings Bank
Ask any traveller or outdoor enthusiast, and you can bet they are squirreling away their pennies for their next big adventure. Give them a gift that makes saving money a little more exciting, and also doubles as a piece of art.
For this DIY you need:
- Cigar box (We have a local cigar shop that is more than happy to give away boxes as they just don’t have the storage to keep them all)
- Paper map
- Mod Podge and foam brush
First, decide your orientation for the cigar box, and the map. I chose to set mine vertically, as it looks more like a book, or art, and less like a trinket box.
With your map on a flat surface, place the cigar box on top of the map section you want to feature and trace with a pencil, then cut out. Using the foam brush, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the cigar box lid, then carefully place your map on top, smoothing out any wrinkles. Apply another thin layer of Mod Podge to the top and let dry. I added a second coat, just to ensure no edges curled up.
I did not have the best tools for making the hole where money could be dropped in, so I improvised. I used my basic drill and drilled 3 holes right next to each other until it formed a whole large enough to fit a quarter. The hole doesn’t look very pretty, but it functions!
Washcloth Toiletry Roll
By far the most useful of the 5, this washcloth toiletry roll is something that can be used on every camping trip, or any travel trip, to organize your essentials. After your trip, unpack it and throw in the wash if needed.
For this DIY you need:
- Square washcloth
- Long piece of trim or ribbon
- Sewing machine and thread (While not the most efficient, you could hand sew the seams on this piece if you do not have a sewing machine.)
Fold the lower third of the washcloth up and pin the sides. Place two more pinned lines in the center, creating four separate pockets. Sew all four seams. Take one edge of the ribbon or trim, and stitch it to the outer edge of the washcloth, just above the pocket. Be sure you stitch over the ribbon several times to reinforce, as it will get lots of use when you tie and untie the roll.
To add an extra wow factor to this gift, purchase a few travel sized toiletries and include them in the roll as part of the gift. Then they are truly read to pack up and go their next adventure!
So that’s it! 5 great gift ideas you can knock out this weekend! I would love to hear which is your favorite! What other DIY gifts are you making this holiday season? Share in the comments below!