Be Creative This Holiday Season Don’t Shop ~ Stay At Home & Have Fun
While it’s fun to make individual gifts for Christmas, it’s also fun to group them into Gift Packages. There are so many ideas and Christmas is the perfect time to be creative! Here are a few of my favorite gift sets I’ve made over the years…..
Homemade Herbal Gift Ideas
Culinary Gift Basket for the Creative Cook
Select 3-4 herbs and spices that go well together in recipes. Package them in 1 or two ounce spice jars (recycled if possible) and place in them in an appropriate size basket with a colorful kitchen towel, and a few of your favorite recipes. It’s also fun to mix and blend your own herb and spice blends. And if the herbs and spices are from your own garden, even better!! Do you enjoy cooking and creating your own recipes? It’s so easy these days to make a little booklet with your favorite herb and spice recipes. Or if you prefer, include one of Susan Belsinger or Pat Crocker’s wonderful herbal cookbooks!
- Spicy Baking Mix: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, and Allspice.
- Mediterranean Mix: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage, and Garlic
- Chili Mix; include several different types of hot and sweet chilies, both powdered and whole.
Did you grow a lot of garlic this year? Place a few heads of garlic in a gift basket with a jar of your homemade Pickled Garlic. Or two! One jar pickled in vinegar and honey and the other in tamari and honey. Include the recipe so they can make it themselves when they run out.
Holiday Tea Blends
For several years, I’ve blended a new unique Special Holiday Tea blend for family and friends. It’s usually brightly colored and includes dried fruits and berries, or warming spices. I generally tend to sweeten the blend with stevia and/or licorice, anise, etc. because I’ve found that most people, especially those not familiar with the flavor of bitter herbs, appreciate the sweet blends better. But not always. Just be sure the blend you make is VERY DELICIOUS, ‘award winning’ even!! You can package in fancy tins (recycled if possible), paper or plastic bags, and present in gift tins or baskets. The tea by itself is a worthy gift, but becomes extra special when presented with a tea cup(s), strainer, and herbal infused honey.
See Lessons for suggested recipes
* Especially nice if you use herbs you’ve grown and/or harvested yourself. Make mention of that, if that’s the case; ‘Hand grown and hand harvested by_____’!
Herbal Infused Honey
Are you a beekeeper as well as an herbalist? Do you have a beekeeper in your neighborhood? Herbal infused honeys are so lovely and a great way to ‘take your herbs’. You can make endless blends or just try infusing rose petals or lemon peel (organic, please) in honey. A basket of two or three herbal infused honeys is a wonderful gift. Who could resist?
Home Health Care Kits
Health care is becoming of greater and graver concern. Create a basket of a few of your favorite all-purpose remedies. Include detailed instructions how to use, dosages, and how to store. Also, include ingredients and any appropriate counter indications. You might wish to include a basic beginners herb book and/or make your own pamphlet to include (so easy to do on the computer these days!).
Here are some good pointers to follow:
- Give small bottles (until you’re sure your friends and family will use them)
- Give only a few items (again, until you’re sure friends/family will use them)
- Include detailed instructions, dosage and how to store.
- Include ingredients and any contraindications
- Package nicely! Your homemade products will be better received if they are labeled and packaged beautifully. Place in gift bags, baskets, and small tins. Use recycled containers whenever possible (and include your own personal recycled label on them!).
Cold & Cough Care Remedy Basket:
- Total Echinacea Tincture
- Elderberry Syrup
- Cold Care capsules
- Cold and Cough Tea
* See lessons for recipe suggestions
DeStress & ReLaxation Gift Basket
- Stress Release Tea blend
- Calming Bath Blend w/muslin bag
- Kava tincture (or your own favorite relaxing tincture; see lessons)
- Calming Massage oil
- Lavender Spritzer
* See lessons for recipe suggestions
Home First Aid Kit
For the travelers, a small traveling first aid is a great and welcomed gift. Be sure to include an instruction ‘manual’ with this gift; even just a sheet of paper w/instructions will do, but is necessary.
- Dr. Koss Herbal Disinfecting Liniment
- Yarrow powder
- Goldenseal Capsules
- Echinacea Capsules
- Immuno-Enhancing Tincture
- Digestive Bitters
- Perhaps a tea blend or two; a calming relaxing tea and an energizing blend.
Natural Tooth Care Kit
Package this gift with a new biodegradable toothbrushes or one of the bushes with removable heads.
- Home made toothpaste and/or powder
- All Natural Peppermint Spilanthes Mouth Rinse
- Breath Freshener
- Spilanthes tincture for teeth and gum health
- Small bottle of essential oil of clove for gum and tooth infections
* See lessons for recipe suggestions.
For the children in your life, Hands on ‘To Do’ Kits are the very best.
Kids love to be active, and far to often they spend less time outdoors being active than indoors watching a TV or computer screen. Think of gifts you can give that you can make and do with your children. Here are just a few ideas:
Make your own Cream Kit
- Include all of the necessary ingredients, including jars and labels.
- Include a ‘Date Card’ when you can get together to make the cream with them.
* See lessons for recipe suggestions and ingredient lists
Include ingredients needed to make herbal facials. Package in a lovely tin bucket or basket. Include instructions, ‘Date Card’, and, perhaps, a small natural cosmetic book. This gift is just as appropriate and will be appreciated as much by the men in your life as the women! Don’t let them fool you; they might not admit and may even resist, but those guys love these treats!
- White Clay
- Rose Water
- Small ceramic mixing bowl (not necessary, but nice!)
- Facial grains (ones you’ve made already, or include items to make together. See Lessons for suggested recipes)
- Rose Spritzer or hydrosol > can make your own (see Lessons)
- Herbal Facial Steam blend
- Your own personalized Face Cream (see recipes for Rosemary’s Famous Face Cream)
Set a time to make them together, and then do herbal facials together.
* See Lessons for Suggested Recipes
Henna Tattoo Kit
Especially nice for the older kids and Teens in the family. You can blend your own henna and/or purchase a ‘ready made’ kit. They’re available at most herb shops, natural food stores and even some department stores. Include a ‘Date Card’ to get together and do henna tattoos together. They’re temporary, and fun. Include a little sheet with the history of henna. It’s a magical healing herb that people have been using for centuries to both decorate and heal the body.
Well, while you’re at, why not Henna your hair, too! Henna doesn’t just come in bright red and orange colors, but a full spectrum of colors from copper, brown, chestnut mahogany and deep burgundy red. While henna is great for most shades of brown, including light brown, and darker hair, its very challenging to do a good henna on someone with light or silver hair. In fact, I don’t recommend unless you’re willing to live with Orange….! I’m a ‘Henna Queen’ and have been hennaing my hair for over 50 years. I have dark brown hair; henna not only conditions it, but also brings out the deep red tones. Now that my hair is turning white at the base, I use premixed liquid henna, so that the roots don’t turn orange or blood red. I really love gray and silver hair and am looking forward to the time I’ll sport a full silver mane, but for now, I’m still enjoying my brown/hennaed locks.
For a henna night out, we’ll want to include the following:
- A few ounces of the appropriate shade(s) of henna. My preferred brand is Rainbow and/or Persian Henna. They provide the most consistent color shades and high quality henna.
- A few ounces of Jojoba or olive oil
- A plastic shower cap or bag
- Long bobby pins for pinning hair up
- An old towel and T shirt (don’t need to include in the kit, but will be necessary to have on hand)
- A Henna ‘How to’ Instructions plus a small write up on the history of henna (henna is a sacred healing plant, and its good to know its history and ancient uses)
* If you need a henna instruction sheet, please let me know and I’ll forward my very detailed one to you.
- Plant ID cards that you can make yourself. Get photos or if you have already dried herbs, you can press them onto index cards. Label them on the back.
- Better yet, make these plant ID cards together. Granted, if you live in the northeast or an area where the earth is covered in snow over the holiday season, you will have to wait to spring! But photos will do, and/or have garden magazines handy, as part of the gift, that you can cut and paste from.
- Make your own cream kit
- Make your very own Herbal Popsicles
- Make your own herbal tea blends; include a few favorite herbs, including Stevia to sweeten (!!!), a recipe card, a cute cup, a strainer, and a small jar of herbal infused honey.
- Write your own herbal story with illustrations; include a book, pens, pencils, and a few colorful garden and outdoor magazines. Let your child tell the story; you can help illustrate or cut out pictures to illustrate it.
This is only a small sampling of the wonderful homemade gifts you can make from herbs, spices, and other simple ingredients. Over the past 45 years, I’ve made and given just about everything (!!) from natural cosmetic gift sets, bath herbs, holiday tea blends, ‘do it yourself’ herbal kits, herb gifts for men, women, children, and teens!! When my son was very young, I used to stitch stuffed animals for him and stuff them with milkweed and thistle down that I had harvested in the fall. I’d always save some of the fluffy seeds in jars for making fairy wishes in the winter thyme. My son is 45 now and stuffed animals with thistle down might not be so appropriate but he still enjoys his herbal first aid kits, holiday teas and homemade after shave. But I did save a lot of that milkweed fairy fluff this year and will probably use it for a magical gift for my little granddaughter, Lily. There have been times when I visited my large extended family and saw last year’s holiday tea blend sitting in a cupboard unused (and under appreciated!), or a few too many ‘health care kits’ taking up space in their bathroom cupboards. That’s a sign for me to send flower bulbs and herb seeds for that season’s Christmas gift(s). Or else to make a better tasting tea blend this year!!! When it’s really good, they always ask for more! May your Holidays be blessed with good health, the joy of friends, and family and the special magic of the season.