We Give Thanks
It has been a whirlwind few years since the onset of the pandemic to where we are today. We could add some adjectives like rollercoaster, shaky, unsteady, breathless, exhilarating and surprising. Even with the ups and downs, we have many things to be thankful for.
During this time, we launched new products, moved our offices, manufacturing and warehousing to a new and fabulous location, expanded our digital store to offer new and exciting conscious brands, and established key business to business relationships. We keep learning and growing, adjusting and adapting.
We are thankful for you all, most of all. For your support and belief in our little company and for loving our products. Our mission is to help families like yours nourish your skin in the most healthy way possible and to increase the options for organic personal care on store shelves. We are getting there and with you we will continue to change this industry so that chemically-induced allergies and illnesses will become a thing of the past. So, THANK YOU and thank yourselves for making the world a safer place. Happy Thanksgiving!
Let's Embrace the Holidays
When the very first Hannukah and Christmas decorations went up at our favorite craft store, our daughter, Alice, loved it! If we allowed it, she would be perfectly content skipping right over our Thanksgiving vignettes and go all-in on the Christmas decorations. As a happy member of Gen Z, she is also very environmentally conscious and anti-waste. So, how do we bridge the gap between wanting to go all-out crazy for Christmas and staying committed to her sustainable values? Here are some ideas:
Max Out What You Already Have
Here is something fun to do with your kids, even your Gen Z kids. Head out to the craft stores and malls and take it all in. Look at what is on display, see how it is all put together, take photos, stop somewhere for hot chocolate, head home and pull out your holiday storage boxes. Then look at how you can arrange your existing decorations in new ways, place them in new spots around the house and celebrate the money you did not spend!
Raid the Pantry
There are beautiful crafts you can make during the holiday season from items you may already have in your cupboards. If not, an inexpensive trip to the grocery store can yield a fun project for you and your family.
First, I love to make garlands by using kitchen twine or thread with dried orange slices, cranberries, popcorn, even rosemary twigs. Get creative! String them in your kitchen, over windows, and the fireplace. Popcorn combinations can be draped on the Christmas tree! Here are some ways to make these gorgeous garlands.
Dried Orange Slice Garlands
This garland takes a little time in the oven before you assemble. Select large navel oranges and cut into approximately 1/4" slices. Place them on parchment on cookie sheets and bake at 225° for an hour. Allow the slices to cool. Now for the fun part, take your kitchen twine with a large eye needle and string the slices width-wise. Alternate with your cranberries, your rosemary twigs (twine around), pine or whatever else inspires you!
This is the most nostalgic of all garlands. Stringing popcorn while sitting by the fire or watching a movie just makes me think of my childhood. It's a great way to introduce kids to using a thread and needle and really cheers up any of your decorations. String on the tree and around the house. Alternate popcorn with cranberries in a variety of patterns to bring out your red and white motif.
Citrus and Clove Everywhere
Have you ever smelled a fresh orange pierced with whole cloves? The aroma is absolutely intoxicating. Start with fresh naval oranges and create symmetrical patterns with your cloves by puncturing the orange peel with the sharp end of the clove. Leave them in bowls, create stunning topiaries, or wrap them with ribbon and hang them on your tree or anywhere around the house to add some color and freshness.
Homemade Ornaments Create Life-Long Memories
We love the precut felt craft ornaments that you buy at the store, but if you would like to start from scratch with something your kids can get messy with, try the old-fashioned baked cookie ornaments. These you cannot eat, of course, and they are preserved because they are made with salt instead of sugar.
Ornament Salt Dough Recipe
For one dozen ornaments, you will mix 4 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 cup of salt and 1.5 cups of water. Combine well and knead for 10 minutes. Roll out to approximately 1/8" thick and cut with your favorite holiday cookie cutters. Use a straw and pierce the top of the cookie to make a ribbon hole. Bake at 300° for 30 minutes. You can mix the dough with food coloring before cutting, or you can paint the baked ornaments. Wait until cool.
To make a truly sweet and memorable ornament with your children or grandchildren, roll out a thicker dough, cut into a large circle and make an imprint of their hands. How special!
Use poster paints or tube paints and bring out the glitter (if you are brave!). I like to write the year the ornament was created and who created it on the back of the ornament. Spray with an acrylic varnish to preserve the ornament for years to come. Finally, string with your ribbon or yarn and hang!
I'll start with a disclaimer, when foraging for pine branches, pine cones, or twigs, make sure you have permission. If you don't have pines in your gardens, ask family and friends before venturing to public spaces. Once you are out and about, look for what has fallen first, rather than cutting fresh. You will soon find out that trees are always shedding and there will be plenty of raw materials to work with from what you find on the ground.
One of my favorite holiday aromas is fresh pine and when you create pine wreaths and garlands, that beautiful smell in your home will create those homey comfort memories that your family will love.
Evergreen Garlands and Swags
A beautiful evergreen garland or swag always has a variety of pine branches. Collect as many branches as you need to create the length of garland you need with anticipating about 6 inches of overlap with each branch. Bring out the floral wire (24 gauge is best), wire clippers and working gloves.
Start at one end of the branch and wrap the wire down the branch, add new branches and secure the wire as you go until you have created the length of garland or swag that you want. For the last branch, turn it the opposite direction and wrap the wire. You will then have two "ends" for your garland. Secure the wire at the end and clip the wire. Layer and add branches until you have created the dimension you are looking for. I think excess garlands look elegant, so allow for length when you are draping.
Next collect your decorative items like ornaments, pine cones, additional branches or magnolia leaves, perhaps some cranberry or popcorn garland you created earlier, or ribbons, even twinkle lights, and attach them with additional floral wire. You can also buy a wreath frame and attach your garland to create a beautiful evergreen wreath. Use indoors or outdoors.
Pine Cone Wreaths and Boughs
These are absolutely classic, don't you think? Christmas decorating and pine cones go hand in hand. I recommend heading to the craft store to buy your wreath frames or straw or twig frames. Get ready with your hot glue gun and have some fun.
A pine cone wreath will require about 15 pine cones per linear foot. Gather your accessories and plan out your pattern. You can even spray your pine cones gold or silver to zhuzh up your wreath even more. Then get gluing! Finish with a beautiful ribbon bow to hang the wreath with or add a finishing touch at the bottom or side of the wreath. Now admire your work!
Gather your twigs. Determine the size you would like your stars to be and cut your twigs to that size. You will need at least five twigs per star and can use hot glue or twine to affix the twigs together. Leave them plain, or add decorative items to them as desired. Use ribbon or twine to hang them. I have even seen twinkle lights wrapped all around to create a tree topper star. Beautiful!
Go All-Out Elf
If you want to go all out and cover every inch of your home with decorations this year, you absolutely will be winning by following Buddy the Elf's design ideas (although I do not recommend cutting up a book shelf to make a rocking horse).
All you will need is a reem of paper and a lot of popcorn. The internet is full of snowflake cutout patterns, as well as snowman cutouts, and paper doll chain patterns. Go nuts! String your garlands and make your paper chain garlands and you will definitely be feeling the festive spirit. There is nothing like this kind of decorating excess and your guests will absolutely love it!
Skip the Candles and Simmer Natural Potpourri
You all are here for a reason. You're looking for non-toxic products for yourself and your family. We believe that what we put on our skin contributes to our health, or our disease. So it's no surprise that we are cautious about what we breathe as well.
Candles can be very toxic. We don't always know what's in the wax and certainly don't know what are in the fragrances that so many household brand names are using. This is why we decided to carry Makana Candle Studio. They make candles and diffusers that are truly non-toxic.
We love these candles and we know you do too, but if you want to create a traditional holiday aroma in your home you can make a homemade potpourri and fill the air with Christmas.
Potpourri is super easy. All you need is a slow cooker, or your stove-top with a medium sauce pan, your desired ingredients and water. Add citrus slices, apple slices, cinnamon sticks, whole anise seeds, rosemary twigs, and cranberries, or any combination thereof, and soon you will be feeling cozy and relaxed. The mix also makes a terrific gift! Package in a mason jar with a ribbon for an inexpensive yet thoughtful gift everyone will love. Enjoy!
Will we be making all of these crafts this year? Yeah, no. Part of our objective is to de-stress the holidays, not set the highest expectations. But we already incorporate some of these ideas into our yearly rituals and we will definitely be adding more. So choose one or two and get started!
This year is about the time we spend together as a family bonding and making memories, rather than how many presents are under the tree. Crafting around the dining room table is all about chatting and laughing and time away from our phones and social media. What could be better?
When looking back at past holidays, isn't that what we all think about with nostalgia? The time and the memories? Stay true to your family this year and make the commitment to spend the time together that we all crave.
Happy Holidays, friends!
Kristine Sperling and the Makes 3 Organics Wellness Team
Kristine Sperling is a wellness enthusiast and co-founder of Makes 3 Organics, an organic brand dedicated to providing consumers organic alternatives to conventional personal care products. She lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her co-founder husband, Dan, their teenager, Alice, and their blue Shih Tzu, King.