Ahh, the holidays. The most wonderful time of year. Bring on the festive decorations, the cheery songs, time with family and friends, and the stressful last-minute shopping. Well, maybe not that last one.
Finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list can be stressful. The shops are crowded, the traffic is awful, and by the time you're done your holiday spirit is nowhere in sight. Thankfully, there's a better way to gift. For stress-free ideas that won't break the bank, check out this list of easy and thoughtful plant-based presents. No matter who you're giving to, homemade goods from the garden make lovely and sustainable gifts.
- Dried Herbs or Teas
Buying herbs and spices at the supermarket can be expensive -- not to mention bulk-dried herbs are less flavorful than what you can make at home. Making your own dried herbs is inexpensive, easy, and makes great gifts! Create a custom Italian seasoning blend by combining oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme. Or gift the queen of spice blends, herbes de Provence, by combining rosemary, parsley, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, basil, mint, fennel, and a little bit of lavender. If that seems like too much kitchen wizardry, a few individually packed bottles of dried herbs will be a welcome addition to any spice rack. If you feel like taking your spice blending a step further, try making your own secret blend of herbal tea. To start, try equal parts dried mint and dried lemon balm, with a bit of lavender for sweetness and dried orange peel for zing. Feel free to experiment!
- Bath Salts
Melt away stress with a sachet of herbal bath salts. Fill a muslin or mesh bag 2/3 full with Epsom salts, and finish with the dried herb or herb mix of your choice. You can add in some flower petals as well for a lovely scent--I like rose or chamomile. Epsom salt is thought to soothe inflammation and muscle soreness and reduce stress. Depending on what herbs you want to use, you can add further benefits to your soak:
- Lavender - good for the skin and promotes restful sleep
- Mint - heals and invigorates skin
- Rosemary - relieves pain
- Lemon balm - relaxing
- Infused Oils
For friends and family with a talent in the kitchen, a batch of gourmet herbal oils make a delightful, delicious present. Rosemary, oregano, and thyme oils are particularly useful infusions. And the infusing process is simpler than you think! You just need:
- Clean, dry glass containers
- Dried herbs--about 1/3 cup for every quart of oil
- High quality oil. I find olive oil or a neutral vegetable oil works best Make sure the dried herbs are completely covered by the oil.
- Cover the container with a cotton cloth or unbleached coffee filter.
- Secure the filter with a rubber band (this allows gas to escape, but nothing nasty gets in).
- Let the oil infuse for about 10 days, and then strain out the plant material. Infused oil will keep for about a year at room temperature.
- Pesto or Salsa
Turn fresh plants into non-perishable canned goods that will keep your loved ones nourished all winter long! Pesto is a flavorful and versatile shelf-stable good that works with just about any protein. Check out this bright and zesty recipe for sorrel pesto rather than the traditional basil. All you need is sorrel, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, salt, and olive oil. Yum!
- Herb Garden Starter Kit
The best kind of regifting! Pass along the joy of having fresh plants in the house or garden. The best part? Herb cuttings are very easy to start:
- Snip 4-6 inches of new growth from your existing herb plant.
- Pick the leaves off the bottom of the stem, and dip the cut portion in rooting hormone.
- Plant the cutting in fertile soil, covering the portion of stem below the leaves, and patting down the soil around the stem.
- Keep the cutting out of direct sunlight in a warm environment. You can also place your cuttings in a glass of water while they develop roots, and then pot them after 3-4 weeks.
Plant-based home goods make useful personalized gifts that are as fun to give as they are to get! We hope these ideas have inspired you to get creative this holiday season and help to give you some ideas for how to use the produce from your December Copiana Harvest. For more plant-based inspiration and information on our aeroponics and seedlings, check out Copiana.com. Happy gifting!