For the first few Christmases when I had kids, I agonized over what gift they should give their grandparents and great-grandparents. I wanted it to be homemade by the kids and thoughtful, but not totally useless. Then a few years ago, I came across the perfect solution — and now, every Christmas our Grandparents get a stack of homemade glycerin soap.

The boys can help with every step, and the process from beginning to end (excluding letting it set) takes less than 30 minutes. It really could take 10 minutes, but with four extra sets of hands helping (helping?)…. It’s seriously the easiest project ever.

Glycerin soap and scented oils are available online or at crafts stores like Michaels. I have been happy with the soap, oil, and molds (I like very simple shapes– squares, rectangles, and rounds) that I have purchased here.

All you do is melt the soap in the microwave, add the scented oil, and pour into the molds. We’ve never tried any additional ingredients, but it would be fun to add something like oatmeal or exfoliating beads. You can find all sorts of recipes and instructions on the internet. I recently found some simple instructions on Martha Stewart’s website here. She recommends even using the bottom of a milk carton or an ice cube tray for the mold.

They turn out really great when you wrap them individually in pretty paper, clear cellophane, or even parchment. A stack of wrapped soaps can be tied together with a nice ribbon or string.

I may even wrap in little gift boxes this year found at Papermart. (FYI: is actually a fabulous resource for all your wrapping accessories.)
Martha put a collection of smaller soaps in a glass container — very nice.

The best thing is that it doesn’t clutter Grandma’s desk and it’s completely useful and practical. And it’s the kind of gift that you could really give anyone — teachers, neighbors, hostesses, etc.

Any other solutions for the grandparent gift dilemma?

For a list of helpful soap-making websites, see here.