Ask An Expert: DIY Gift Ideas

December 16, 2014 7:00 AM

Photo Credit Thinkstock

The most wonderful time of the year also means it’s time for crazy sales and even crazier shoppers. If you prefer to avoid the mall like the plague this holiday season, consider making your loved ones a gift. D.C.-based Amy E. Goodman, lifestyle editor of the website Zulily, provides her tips for the best do-it-yourself gift ideas that are guaranteed to please everyone on your list.

Amy E. Goodman
Style Expert, Media Maven and Author

A nationally recognized media maven, Amy has tried it all on national television including yoga, celebrity interviews, cleaning tips and cooking. She has been featured in a variety of media including “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” “The View,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” “Access Hollywood,” “Entertainment Tonight” and VH1. Her book, “Wear This, Toss That!” features hundreds of fashion and beauty tips that will help readers save their looks, budget and time. Here, she provides her tips on the best do-it-yourself gift ideas.

Related: Ask a Washington, D.C. Expert: Ideas For Hostess Gifts

Herb-infused olive oils


  • Sealable glass bottle
  • Suggested herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano
  • Olive oil

Thoroughly clean and dry a sealable glass bottle. “Make sure the bottle is completely dry before adding olive oil as this will cause bacteria to grow,” Amy advises. If using fresh herbs, thoroughly clean and dry to remove all water from the herbs as well. Place the herbs in the glass bottle, pour olive oil over the herbs until the glass bottle is full and seal the container. Store in a refrigerator and set aside for a week to infuse flavors. Place a label on the glass bottle to add the date the oil was made. This will help your gift recipients determine when it’s time to discard of the oil. “If using dried herbs, the oil can last a month to two months while olive oil infused with fresh herbs will need to be used right away.”

Flavored lip balms


  • Aquaphor, Vaseline or petroleum jelly
  • Lip gloss pots
  • Coconut oil
  • Rose aromatherapy oil
  • Peppermint extract
  • Vanilla extract

Microwave a spoonful of Aquaphor or petroleum jelly in a microwave-safe bowl until it forms into a liquid, or for 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between to assure it doesn’t bubble over. “Add your favorite extract for fragrance in small amounts but don’t add too much – adding too much oil to an oil base will cause both properties to separate and not mix well,” says Amy. Next, if you wish to add a little color, shave some blush powder, eye shadow or bronzing powder into the bowl. “Trust me, it doesn’t take very much so start with small amounts and blend, blend, blend.” Place desired amount in gifting container, like a small lip gloss pot. Allow to set, which will take a few minutes.

Herbed rubs for meats and vegetables

“You’ve likely visited the spice rack section of your local grocery store or specialty food store recently in need of one spice or another during the holidays, and have been wowed by the prices. Spice mixes can command steep sticker shock, but if you blend your own—especially of a favorite family rub—it’s a cool gift,” explains Amy. “Pumpkin spice is a classic people can make use of this time of year, but perhaps you also have a special BBQ rub that runs in the family that you’re willing to share. Plus it can become a family activity: a fun blending ‘station’ for third and fourth graders learning about fractions!”

Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 2 1/4 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves

Make-Your-Flav Dry Rub

  • Coarse salt or sea salt (you can use any salt you like: any texture, any grain)
  • White sugar and/or brown sugar (brown sugar is commonly used in BBQ rubs)
  • Cumin or paprika
  • Pepper (from black to chile to red or cayenne; add sparingly at first)
  • Herbed flavorings: oregano, garlic and/or onion powders, thyme, rosemary, dill

Beeswax candles


  • Beeswax
  • Candle wicks
  • Tape
  • Glass jar

Begin by heating up the wax on the stove in a pot to 140 degrees F. Pour a small layer into the base of a jar and place a piece of candle wick into the center of the jar. Hold this in place until the wax is dry enough to where the wick stays in place. Make an X with tape over the top of the jar and then poke a hole through the top and pull the wick through. Fill up the jar with melted wax until the desired height. Then make sure the wax is solid and then you can cut the wick. Voila!

Related: Where To Buy Your Next Holiday Party Outfit In Washington DC

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at