7 Plant-Based Presents That Will Make You a Hero This Holiday (DIY)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It might also be the most stressful.
Call me “Scrooge,” but — with busy traffic, long lines, limited-time sales, crowded parking lots, and a looming deadline — holiday shopping is a little overwhelming.
Fortunately, you can bypass much of this seasonal madness by making your own meaningful gifts instead of (or at least in addition to) heading to big-box stores. And if you’re gardening indoors or have produce that you preserved earlier this year, there are a number of plant-based presents you could make.
For your inspiration (and sanity), explore the following seven homegrown gift ideas — they’re ordered by time and effort required, starting with the simplest projects.
1. Homegrown Bouquet
Growing flowers or floral herbs, such as lavender? A fresh bouquet is just about the easiest homegrown gift you can make.
Simply harvest and bind the plants with twine or ribbon. Piece of cake!
2. Seasoning Blends
Spices from the grocery store often come at a premium price. Which makes them pretty great gifts — especially when they cost you almost nothing to grow.
Consider creating custom blends for the cooks in your in your life. You could combine dried basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme to make a traditional Italian mix, for example. (Wellness Mama has 14 other recipes for you to try.)
3. Herbal Bath Mix
Give the gift of a good, relaxing soak by preparing an herbal bath mix. It requires only one step: putting about half a cup of dried herbs in a muslin bag. To use it, your gift recipient can simply toss the bag into the bathtub as the water is running.
Which herbs should you use? Lemon balm and lavender are both famous for their ability to lift spirits, and rosemary reportedly relieves pain. For even more ideas, check out this list from Prevention Magazine.
Potpourri is an experiential gift your loved ones will enjoy for months. To make it, combine dried aromatic herbs, such as lavender, sage, and rosemary, with decorative ingredients (e.g., pine cones), and then spritz the mixture with essential oils.
You can present your potpourri in a nice wooden, ceramic, or class bowl, or put it in sachets — small cloth bags that are ideal for hanging in bathrooms and closets.
5. Starter Plants
If you know any green thumbed-individuals — and if you’re currently growing an indoor herb garden — consider propagating new seedlings as presents. There are a couple of propagation methods.
The first is to take a cutting. Rather than sprouting seeds, many herbs — including rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, and others — are actually easier to start this way:
- Snip up to three inches of tender, new growth from the mother plant.
- Remove the leaves from the bottom of the stem, and dip it in rooting hormone (available from most gardening shops).
- Plant the cutting in soil, pressing it down until the bottommost leaves nearly touch the surface, and pinch the soil around the stem.
- Place the cutting in a warm environment (out of direct sunlight) that has good air circulation.
When you follow these steps, most plants will root within a few weeks. You’ll know that the cutting has taken when it resists a gentle tug.
You can also propagate crops that produce runners (e.g., strawberries, mint, passionflower) easily with a method called “layering.” These plants naturally sprout roots wherever runner nodes come in direct contact with soil. So all you must do is anchor the runners to a pot of soil.
Achieve this by bending a paper clip into a horseshoe shape, placing the runner inside the “u,” and pushing it into the soil. And after a week or two, the runner should root. Once it has, simply cut the stem connecting the rooted plantlet to the mother plant.
Not currently growing any plants? You could also give away seeds that you’ve saved, assuming you’ve been harvesting seeds from your garden.
6. Infused Oils
For the chefs in your life, why not make a batch of infused oil? The process is relatively straightforward:
- Acquire a clean and dry quart-sized glass container. (Moisture will spoil the oil.)
- Add about 1/3 cup of dried herbs — basil, rosemary, thyme, and even cayenne peppers are all delicious options. But feel free to experiment!
- Pour high quality oil over the dried plant material until it covers it by at least an inch or so.
- Place a cotton cloth or unbleached coffee filter atop the container and secure it with a rubber band. This will allow gas to escape.
- Let the infusion sit for 10 days and then strain out the plant material. The resulting oil should last for about a year at room temperature.
Keep in mind that you can also create medicinal oils this way using lavender, calendula, and other herbs with healing properties.
To prepare an infused vinegar, follow the same steps above, but substitute red or white vinegar for the oil, and heat it before adding the herbs and again after it’s finished infusing. Organic Authority offers more instructions (plus recipe ideas) here.
7. Processed Produce
Though most of the suggestions on this list use raw produce, processing or cooking your harvests is a fun way to level up your gift. For example, pesto and canned goods — such as tomato sauce and salsa — are value-added presents that store well.
Browse this free cookbook (created with help from dozens of Tower Gardeners) for exceptional recipes that use homegrown produce.
Bonus: Essential Oils
Because they contain a highly concentrated dose of the uplifting aromas and medicinal compounds that herbs and other plants offer, essential oils are commonly used in aromatherapy, as well as to make perfumes, cleaning products, and incense.
Distilling essential oils is a complex process that requires specialized tools and equipment. And for that reason, I’m not going to dig into the specifics of the project in this post.
That being said, essential oils do make unique gifts. So I encourage you to learn more about them in this thorough guide from Mother Earth Living.
If you want to try making your own using items you may already have at home, this tutorial uses a crockpot to distill the oils.
Happy (Stress-Free) Holidays!
Whether you’re trying to save a little money, looking for a one-of-a-kind present, or just want to avoid a hectic shopping experience this holiday, I hope you found the above recommendations helpful.
Do you have any fresh ideas for DIY, homegrown gifts I didn’t cover here? Please share them in the comments section below.
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