About this time last year, like every year, my husband and I were faced with the prospect of procuring holiday gifts for four nieces (ages 9 to 12). Instead of heading to the stores to make our best guesses, I offered to host a Handmade Body Care Party, where we would all get to make our own natural lotions and potions.
If you’re up for some planning and mess making, this is a great way to spend time with your loved ones, while helping them take care of their skin during the season that does its worst to it. It’s also a hands-on, eco-friendly way to have a lot of fun!
Our menu for the day included making bath bombs, sugar scrubs, lotion bars, and lip balm.* (We didn’t get to the lip balm.) Some things turned out perfectly, and some things not so perfectly, but everyone got to take home a gift bag of goodness they had made themselves. As for the process, well, let’s just say that between the clouds of baking powder and essential oils, there was a high level of engagement.
Want to try? Here are my top 10 tips for hosting a successful handmade skin care party:
1. Know Your Numbers. I knew my nieces were coming, and that at least two of my three kids would be there. I also invited parents and grandparents but was loosey-goosey about whether the adults were actually coming, so wasn’t clear how much to buy when it came to supplies. If you don’t want to have a lot of leftover supplies, confirm your RSVPs.
2. Decide on Scope. I had four separate items on our making menu. The variety made for a lot of action, exposed the kids to the possibilities of handmade body care, and produced a satisfying gift bag to take home. It also added a lot more planning, time, and cost to the party.
You could also simplify and host an amazing homemade party doing just bath bombs, for example. The kids spent so much time on this, using their fingers to blend ingredients, carefully selecting colours and scents to customize their creations. Hosting a party of smaller scope would be way easier, less expensive, and may be better if there are more children or younger children at the party. (Bath bombs need to be left overnight to dry though, so prepare the children that they’ll have to wait to take their treasures home.)
3. Go Easy on Ingredients. I had the ingredients for everything on hand, but if you have to go out and buy, try to get recipes with ingredients that will multi-task for you: coconut oil, cocoa butter, and beeswax go a long way. (My recipe list features different concoctions with overlapping ingredients.) I also had a range of essential oils, but this would be expensive to buy just for one party. You could instead buy a couple of essential oils, and blend for more variety.
4. Educate, Briefly. One key reason for the popularity of handmade body care products is expressing creativity, saving money, and controlling the quality of what goes on our bodies. I shared these reasons, briefly (ie. according to attention span), to highlight the benefits of our party. I also explained, briefly, what different ingredients contribute to the recipes so the kids could better understand why we were using what we were using.
5. Pretty is Nice. If you’re going to the trouble of hosting and handmaking these products, find a way to make the final product pretty. Showcasing the kids’ creations helps them appreciate what they’ve done, and see possibilities for making them again as gifts. At the end of our party, everyone went home with a baby blue gift bag full of their makings. I’m sorry I didn’t photograph this – I was awfully busy, and it slipped by me. But the final gift bag and its contents were pretty, and they were appreciated.
6. The Dollar Store is Your Friend. It’s one-stop shopping for pretty packaging that doesn’t break the bank. I went to a larger one and got glass jars, cardboard gift boxes, cellophane bags, tissue paper, and gift bags in one fell swoop.
7. Include the Boys. While I did this with my nieces in mind, I knew I would also be including my sons (age 10 and 8) to the party. Uncracked skin isn’t only for the girls, and the hands-on nature of the party appeals to all kids.
8. Accept Help. I hosted this party on my own, but an extra pair of hands would have come in handy, especially because I had to give extra time to my youngest, who is 5. If there’s a parent who likes making stuff who offers to stay for the party, especially if there are littler kids participating, say yes.
9. Embrace the Chaos. If the pics haven’t already made it very clear, I’ll tell it to you straight: hosting a party like this is a messy business. Expect spills and mishaps, and know clean up will take a while. As my husband says, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs (and then I asked him and his OCD tendencies to leave the room).
10. Have Fun! Remember to see the forest. Take a few moments to enjoy the making/mayhem while it’s happening. Hopefully you planned to make some extra stuff for yourself, and everyone’s skin (including your own) will thank you.
* To avoid the longest post ever on the Internet, I posted the three all-natural handmade recipes we used here. I chose them because they were easy to make with accessible ingredients. Stay tuned!