Office gifts

Fun fact: I love to give presents. I don’t really like to receive them. And that works out pretty well at the office, because only a handful of people participate in any sort of gift exchange. I like to do it as awkwardly as possible, mainly saying stuff like, here! Have some jam! while placing said jam on the desk and then walking away before anyone can say anything.

I like giving presents, I’m just bad at it. But who cares! It’s (almost) Christmas!

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my zero waste office gifts, which is why I started this summer. I canned a lot of jam and fruit butter with my editorial co-workers in mind. My department is three men … and me. We’ve got a Boomer, me the Gen X-er, and two Millennials. That’s not necessary to this story, I just think it’s interesting. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that no man will ever say no to jam. My own husband would eat a half-pint in one sitting if I’d let him. BOOM. So that was the easy part.

Peach, cherry and raspberry/blackberry.

Peach, cherry and raspberry/blackberry. 

But what about the women? The front office staff, our publisher and our ad staff are all women. I wanted to do something kind of fun that could be crafted at home (I hate shopping) reusing jars I already owned.

Way back in May I made a sugar scrub, and I knew that could be a good zero waste gift option. Sugar scrubs are easy to make at home, I have some cute Ikea jars that I keep forgetting to donate to the church’s annual rummage sale, and sugar, salt and olive oil are pretty low waste. (I also wanted to use some of the peppermint essential oil I bought early in the project. I’m not convinced essential oils are low waste even though they seem big on the zero waste recipes front.)

So okay then. Sugar scrub for the ladies!

Super cute jars. Not really great for a spice drawer, though.

Super cute jars. Not really great for the spice rack, though.

I bought these jars years and years ago with the idea that they would be my new spice canisters. Turns out they don’t stack very well, even if they’re cute as heck. But I didn’t know that when I wrote various herb and spice names on the lids. Whoops. My favorite checker at the store mentioned once that you can get permanent marker off of some items using rubbing alcohol, so armed with a jug of that and some cotton balls (that I still am working on getting rid of — and reached for because I didn’t want blue marker stains on my cute reusable cotton balls), I went to work.

The very first lid I grabbed: Success!

The second lid: Failure!

Ah, well.

Ah, well.

It was hit and miss pretty consistently — the marker came off eight of the lids, but wouldn’t budge from the other eight. Hey, that’s cool, I only needed seven jars anyway. I got them washed and dried, and then went about gathering the ingredients.

3 cups sugar, check.

6 tablespoons olive oil, check.

20 drops essential oil, check.

1 1/2 cups fine salt … CRAP.

So there was a trip to the store. I didn’t want to drive all the way into town to the bulk bins, so I hit the corner market. For 89-cents, I got a cardboard carton of salt. Good enough. After THAT little hiccup, it was easy. I made a triple batch (that’s the measurements listed above, just FYI), carefully filled my jars, and realized I had enough left over for a couple more … which I gave to Abby and her best friend, who was visiting. They oohed and aahed over the kitchen sink as they massaged it into their hands. (Abby chose the “nutmeg” lid and Lily the “cilantro.”) It was very good for my self-esteem, but I was afraid it looked too pale and boring.

Looks like snow!

Pale and boring!



Then Lily was all like, it looks like snow! And I was like, that is brilliant! I’ll just tell people it’s peppermint snowman scrub!

I had big plans of making a tag and using some ribbon and decorating the jars up all cute, and then reality hit. That was going to end up being a big ol’ craft project and another hour of my life that could be better spent reading. Um, so I decided that cute jars of plain scrub would have to do — I can tell people easy enough in my awkward giving ramblings that’s what it is and how to use it (massage into wet skin, in case you need to know that too). Also: No packaging at all is SO zero waste!

BAM. Done. I’m actually really happy with all of this. I would love jam, and even if I wasn’t crazy about the sugar scrub, I’d be pretty jacked about the cute jar.

Incidentally, some people are getting jam and a jar of scrub — the head secretary (she’s awesome) and our publisher (who is super supportive and also awesome). And another secretary and one of our designers are getting jam instead of scrub because I think they’d like that more.

So that’s what I’ll be handing out Friday morning. It’s probably good I knew I had to update the blog to spur me into action — this whole thing wasn’t hard, I just like waiting until the very last minute usually. I don’t know, it adds to the holiday spirit when you’re running around cursing because you forgot some major component and it’s 10 p.m. 😉

P.S. Happy longest night of the year, northern hemisphere! It’s all going to get lighter from here!

P.P.S. This is my 100th post!

Next up: That remains to be seen.