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Made with love: Affordable DIY gifts to impress your friends and family

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NOVEMBER 20, 2015

It’s no secret that the holidays are the happiest time of the year (other than New Student Convocation, when we get to witness Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ mustache in all of its bristly new-school-year glory). There’s just something special about sleeping in a bed that isn’t covered in mysterious stains, eating food that isn’t loaded with enough caffeine and/or MSG to poison a decent-size rhinoceros and spending time with the people you care for — especially because they’re giving you presents. Who doesn’t love those?

Of course, as we all learned watching countless reruns of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” while our little cousins painfully teethed on our limbs, the best part of presents isn’t the receiving: It’s the giving. The only problem is that you’re a starving college student who has probably just realized that you need to assemble an army of presents with much less time and money than you would like. Never fear: The Daily Californian is here with three — count ’em, three — inexpensive and easily made DIY presents that scream, “No, Mom, of course I didn’t make this on the flight home yesterday. What are you talking about? Please just tell me you like it.”

Decorated succulents

Kore Chan/Senior Staff
Kore Chan/Senior Staff


  • small ceramic pot
  • soil
  • succulent or cactus of your choice
  • holiday decoration
  1. Purchase a succulent from a local gardening store or flower shop and find yourself a small ceramic pot to put it in.
  2. Add some soil (probably from the ground — you’re a college student, so don’t be picky) and a little water to ensure that your present doesn’t die before you have a chance to gift it.
  3. Decorate the pot however you like — strips of fabric, stickers and a hand-drawn Sharpie picture of Oski are all good ideas.
  4. Add your holiday decoration to the plant itself. Examples might include a single Christmas tree ornament a la “A Charlie Brown Christmas” for your retro aunt, a very small menorah poked into the dirt for your bubbe in Long Island (don’t light it on fire, though) or a plastic snowman so that your succulent can have a friend to snuggle up to when it gets cold.

Personalized mug and hot chocolate mix


For the mug:

  • light-colored ceramic mug
  • dark-colored Sharpie
  • oven
  • ribbon (preferably blue and gold for that good ol’ UC Berkeley spirit)

For the mix (if you’re lazy):

  • packaged hot cocoa mix (available at Walgreens or any other food store)

For the mix (if you’re ambitious or have a pantry that’s actually stocked):

  • 3 cups dry milk powder
  • ¾ cups white sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  1. Using the Sharpie, draw any design or phrase on the mug. Stencils help a lot here, if you have them — just make sure they don’t smudge. It’s also nice to personalize the mug for the recipient; maybe instead of just writing, “Happy holidays!” and drawing a snowman, you could use your calligraphy skills to write, “Happy holidays, Aunt Barbara! Please don’t give me socks again this year.” Add a snowflake or two to really get that holiday spirit!
  2. Place the mug in the oven at 350 degrees for half an hour. This will allow the ink to set so that Aunt Barbara’s hands don’t turn all sorts of colors when she enjoys her drink.
  3. Add your hot cocoa mix once the cup has gone through the oven and cooled off. If you’ve made your own, make sure to mix all the ingredients together well before placing them in the mug.
  4. Tie your ribbon around the mug or its handle for a final holiday touch.

Homemade sugar scrub

Kore Chan/Senior Staff
Kore Chan/Senior Staff


  • ½ cup white or brown sugar (organic, if you’re feeling fancy; normal, if you’re flat-out broke)
  • ½ cup olive or coconut oil
  • optional oils and spices
  1. There’s actually only one step for this: mix.
  2. OK, there’s a little more. Try adding different oils and spices to the scrub for variation: Vitamin E oil and cinnamon make pumpkin pie; vanilla extract makes, well, vanilla; and a few drops of lemon or orange essential oil make a really nice-smelling citrus scrub.

From the Daily Cal to you, enjoy!  

Contact Ariel Sauri at [email protected].

NOVEMBER 20, 2015

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