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Homemade Exotic Spa Treatments - great for Christmas gifts! (Share Your Homemade Gift Ideas)

Posted by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 10:48 AM
  • 4 Replies

By Janice Cox
December/January 2010

Exotic herbs, such as cinnamon basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’), ginger mint (Mentha ×gracilis) or Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac), are now easier to find thanks to online seed catalogs and specialty garden centers. These new imported plants have unusual scents such as ginger, chocolate and pineapple and also have colorful leaves and flowers. For cosmetic use, they are enjoyable to use and create popular tropical body treatments, such as Balinese Boreh or Javanese Lulur that cleanse not only your skin but also your spirit. By adding these plants to your recipes and treatments, you will feel like you have been on a mini-vacation without having to board a plane or get out your passport.

5 Exotic Spa Treatments

Cinnamon Basil Massage Oil
Balinese Boreh
Javanese Lulur
Ginger Mint Body Glow

6 Beauty Power-Foods

Avocado: This leathery green fruit is extremely moisturizing and rich. Use as a skin and hair conditioner. It is perfect as a facial mask for dry skin.

Banana: Rich in potassium and vitamin C, this fruit is a natural moisturizer. The mashed flesh makes a conditioning mask for dry, damaged hair.

Cherimoya: This creamy fruit is used in body scrubs and masks. Mix with ground nuts or cornmeal and massage all over your body for an exfoliating treatment.

Coffee: This popular drink soothes your skin. It can be mixed into lotions to help boost circulation and reduce cellulite because of its high caffeine content. It also works as a darkening hair rinse.

Papaya: This enzyme-rich tropical fruit has skin-softening properties. Massage fresh papaya into rough spots (such as heels, knees and elbows) to cleanse and condition them. Note: Fresh papaya is too strong for your face or sensitive areas and may redden your skin.

Sweet potato: This root vegetable, native to Central America, is moisturizing. Use in body scrubs with raw sugar and as a facial mask for all skin types.


I make homemade all-natural soaps out of coconut oil and coffee grounds, for soft exfoliation for your winter-dry skin.  I also make homemade salve out of beeswax and olive oil for burns or rashes or diaper cream ointment for my friends.

Sometimes, I'll bake fresh bread and wrap them in pretty colored Saran Wrap with a bow.

What are some of your homemade gifts?

by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 10:48 AM
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by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Scent #1: Oranges, cinnamon & cloves (allspice and anise are optional). This is my favorite, both for it's wonderful aroma and for it's staying power. This scent carries into multiple rooms better, and it can be reheated to scent your rooms for several days.Scents_for_home4.jpg

Scent #2: Lemon, rosemary, & vanilla. A similar scented water is often simmering in Williams-Sonoma stores. It has a lovely freshness to it. Scents_for_home5.jpg

Scent #3: Lime, thyme, mint & vanilla extract. This combination has such a fresh, pleasant scent. I initially made it without the mint extract, but have found that it really kicks up the aroma.Scents_for_home6.jpg

Scent #4: Orange, ginger (fresh or powdered), and almond extract. This is a sweet, delicious scent. Scents_for_home7.jpg

Scent # 5: Pine or cedar twigs (or other fragrant twigs), bay leaves, and nutmeg. These scents combine for a complex aroma. If you have whole nutmeg, use a microplane to grate off the outer surface--this will release the scent. Add the whole nutmeg piece along with the gratings.

view on Amazon: Microplane


Here's the gang of five. Aren't they beautiful? I like to make these up in pint jars and keep them on hand in the fridge so I'm ready to start a pot of simmering scents as needed. IMG_3846.jpg

Make ahead and...

  • in the fridge. Uncooked jars of scented waters will keep in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks, so you can make these ahead to have on hand. I recommend adding all of the ingredients, including the water, to the jars before refrigerating them. I've tried refrigerating the fruit/spice/herb combos in jars without the water, but they don't last as long that way.
  • ...freeze them. I've tried freezing them both with and without the water added, and both ways work fine. I haven't tested them in the freezer longer than 2 weeks, but I'm confident that they can be frozen for a month or longer. Make sure you use freezer-safe jars like these pint wide-mouth mason jars. (Not all mason jars are freezer-safe.)

How to heat the scented mixtures

I've tried a variety of methods, and all of these work to varying degrees. Some of them provide a more powerful scent than others. Just like the air fresheners you buy, none of these will scent a whole house; but I'll show you some ways to set up individual scent sources in multiple rooms. Hopefully you already have what you need to try out one or more of these options.

Stove top method. This is by far the best way I've found to get the most powerful scent that will spread to more rooms the fastest. It's easy as can be. Simply combine the ingredients in a pot on the stove, bring them to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer. They will immediately begin to scent your kitchen and spread to other rooms. How far the scent spreads depends on the size and layout of your house. A simmering pot like this makes all four rooms on our first floor smell good. The only drawback of this method is that you have to keep a close eye on the water level. If the pan dries out, you'll be smelling burned citrus instead of sweet, fragrant citrus. NOTE: For a stronger scent, simply double or triple the recipe in a larger pot on the stove.

by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 10:57 AM

I am starting to look into making my own soaps and such. I just started looking into it though.

by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Store-bought gifts are nice, sure...but I appreciate when someone takes the time to knit or sew or bake me a gift.  Means a LOT more to me, personally.

by on Dec. 4, 2012 at 11:23 AM

It surprises me that more women on this board don't make homemade items?

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