Christmas Preparations in May – DIY gifts and shopping

May has finally arrived. Time to see the flowers brought on by April showers. It is also time for garage sales to start appearing. And that, My Readers, is exactly where I was this past Saturday. Actually I was helping host a garage sale and showed enough self-control to not shop will the very end. It did give me time to consider what crafts I might want to do, reality versus spare time dreaming, and to whom I would like to give said crafts.

After all was said and done I came home with a few crafts for upcoming gifts, specifically Christmas gifts. One in particular, gel candles, is something new to me; something I had always wanted to try but which was usually outside of my “per gift” budget. Garage sales are a great place to help save money, find items for reuse, and help keep things from being thrown in the landfill. Initially I had thought to save this craft till July which was my impromptu start date for making crafts. After helping out with the garage sale I was greatly against storing crafts and so decided to tackle this activity after lunch today. Here is how it went:

Fruit Preserves Gel Candles

  • Project: 3 Fruit Preserved Gel Candles
  • Time: about an hour (including talking to your family members and watching YouTube videos)
  • Cost: $3-$30

There were 3 kits of various scents – strawberry, berry, and peach. I already had extra jars and decided upon using pint jars with a jelly jar as an extra in case there was too much for the pint jars. (As you may notice from the pictures, each kit gave me a varying amount of gel. I am not sure exactly why there was a difference in volume as they all started out with what seemed to be the same amount.) While the gel looked like jello it definitely was not of the same texture, being thicker than I had thought.

  1. Melt gel in a crockpot or on low heat on the stovetop. When I first started warming up the gel in a small sauce pan the heat was on low. Very low. The multiple warnings of fire and danger had done their trick. By the second and third candle I knew better than to be on very low and instead set it to a low temperature on the stove. This helped speed up the process.
  2. Dip tab and wick into melting gel. As with canning regular food, place the jars on a level surface. The first time I dipped the wick into the wax way too early which only resulted in clumpy gel clinging to the wick. The next two times I waited till the gel was all the way melted, dipped the wick into the wax while holding onto the last 1/4 inch, and then put it into the jar and pushed it into place with a pencil. Not only did it look better but it was a quicker process. If there was space left I rolled the end of the wick around the pencil, laid across the top of the jar, to help keep it upright when adding liquid gel.
  3. Pour melted gel into jar. Using a funnel to pour from the saucepan into the jar really did make it an almost clean process. There were two little drips to clean up which is a lot better than I had anticipated. Once the gel cooled inside the funnel it was very easy to peel off during the clean up stage.
  4. Let jars sit for a few minutes in order to allow the gel to cool. Add fruit pieces. If the fruit pieces drop quickly to the bottom you need to let it cool for another minute or so. If they gently float to the bottom you need to add the rest right away or else it will quickly thicken up too much to add them easily and without creating bubbles.
  5. Add a lid and tag. Your candle is now complete. Let it cool. Add a lid and tag if giving as a gift. Or else light and burn if you are planning to use it for yourself.

The initial, several years old, price tag on each kit was $10.99. I would not personally pay that much. If I come across supplies or kits at garage sales or thrift stores for $1-$2 I would definitely do it again. You might feel otherwise, loving candles and creating them, seeing the initial full price as a bargain.

Have you thought about upcoming gifts you might be needing? What are some things you have worked on recently?