I was at a crafty friend's house recently and she was making soap. I was inspired. You can buy big bricks of plain soap like this at Michael's ($17.99 before the 40% off coupon):
And turn it into 8 regular sized bars of loveliness.
The plain brick of soap is scored, so you cut it into small chunks with a kitchen knife and gently heat it in a pot on the stove.
Before pouring this batch into the molds, I added some purple colorant (also found in the soap making aisle at Michael's) and dried lavender. The bar in the forefront has a deeper colored middle - I inserted some broken chunks from a different colored batch of soap for interest.
I bought these inexpensive molds at Michael's, but they weren't worth the money. Leftover plastic food containers from my kitchen (greased with a tiny bit of olive oil) were much sturdier.
You can make one big soap loaf and slice it up.
My friend suggested I grate some orange peel and lemon peel to add to the soap. You could add just about anything - seeds, oats, finely ground walnut shell....
A close up of the lemon peel and lavender.
The last thing to do before gift-giving is dress up your bars.
Paper, twine, ribbon or fabric. They all look sweet.