(photo credit: Thinkstock)

(photo credit: Thinkstock)

The holidays are the perfect time to get out the craft boxes and start creating handmade gifts for those you love. Some gifts can change everything, especially when well chosen and highly personalized. You will create added value to any gift by making it yourself. People will remember a handcrafted present far longer than a mass-produced impersonal bauble. Stephanie Comptois is a master artisan who will shortly be opening her own craft boutique. Currently, her inventory can be found at Fun Stuff in Birmingham. Stay tuned for the opening of her store Bear Necessities. In the meantime, here are some delightful craft ideas from Stephanie that will brighten your holiday season.

Stephanie Comptois
Bear Necessities (coming soon)
(248) 549-3209

Fun Stuff
725 S. Adams Road, Suite 104
Birmingham, MI 48009
(248) 760-9749

Gifts in a Jar

Mmmmm cookies! Coming home to a warm house with the fragrance of fresh cookies radiating from the oven is what makes a home comforting. Rustle up some canning jars and fill them with cookie mixes for an old-fashioned favorite. Remember, good things come in small packages. Food and luxury gifts layered like a rainbow in mason jars make charming and delicious gifts to give to loved ones. Gifts-in-a-jar recipes are plentiful on the internet, and everyone loves baked cookies during the frosty Michigan winters. The recipient simply adds an egg and stick of butter to the mix, then bakes. Canning jars are available for purchase in hardware stores.

Plaster of Paris Ornaments

Plaster of Paris is a fun material to work with; you just add water and let it firm up in a mold. Giant bags of dry plaster weighing 25 pounds only cost around $11 from the large hardware stores, and they will make hundreds of ornaments to decorate. Kids love painting them on snow days when it’s too cold to go outside.

Related: Best Holiday Decoration Stores Near Detroit


Handmade candles are a joy to make and receive. Chandlers (candle makers) add concentrated essential oils for naturopathic therapy. A favorite local supplier of essential oils is Rainbow Meadow in Napoleon, Michigan. Eskar wax R40 is sold by the 10-pound slab from petroleum distributors. It is best to find a location where you can pick it up to avoid freight charges. You can make large candles for about 25 cents each if you purchase your supplies during sales or use craft store coupons.

Pumpkin Shell Bakes

Casseroles, stews, spiced rum cakes and sweet potato pecan souffle are delightful when served in a pumpkin shell. They are plentiful this time of year, and festive for the dinner table. Be certain to choose sugar pumpkins, not carving pumpkins, for your holiday dishes. They are especially charming when presented on a colorful doily.

Related: Best Outlet Malls For Holiday Shopping Near Detroit

Natural Herbal Soap

Herbal soap is fun to make and excellent for your skin. The ingredients for natural soap are distilled water, sodium hydroxide and oils from grocery stores. Adding the herbs and extras, like flower petals, is what makes each batch unique. Similar to candles, soaps can be poured into molds to form festive shapes.

Romero Anton Montalban-Anderssen is the winner of the 2009 first prize in journalism from the Detroit Working Writers Organization. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University School of Law. He has seasonal residency in Detroit Michigan, The Italian Riviera, and Honolulu Hawaii. His work can be found at Examiner.com.