Homemade gifts are a great way to save money and give a gift that truly comes from the heart. Here are five of my favorite eco-friendly gift ideas that are perfect for any occasion! We made several of these for Christmas this year, and will be making the herbal sachets tomorrow to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
1. Herbal Sachets:
- Select or make a small bag with a somewhat open weave. Be sure to leave one side open, if you are making bags.
- Mix together enough dried herbs to fill the bag. Good choices include: lavender, lemon balm, lilac, mint, rosemary, roses, scented geraniums and thyme. You can also use herbs with specific healing properties, click here for suggestions.
- If you’d like to enhance the scent, a few drops of essential oil can be added.
- Fill the bag with the flowers and herbs.
- Either sew or glue the bag closed, or tie the end tightly with ribbon or string.
- Enjoy. Rubbing the bag gently will further crush the herbs and release their fragrance.
- 750ml bottle of premium vodka
- 2-3 pieces of fresh fruit or 1-2 sprigs of your favorite herbs
- infusion jar with tight sealing lid
- Rinse the fruit &/or herbs and place them a clean mason jar or similar jar with a tight sealing lid.
- Pour the vodka over the fruit/herbs and shake a few times.
- Seal the lid tight and store the jar in a cool, dark place for 3-5 days.
- Test the flavor of the infusion everyday, beginning on the second day.
- Once it’s flavored to taste, strain the vodka using a fine strainer or coffee filter.
- Wash the jar and return the flavored vodka to it.
- Store as you do other vodka.
- Unscented Candles
- Pressed or Fresh Flowers and Leaves
- Large Saucepan
- Parchment Paper
- Select some large fat candles (I prefer soy). You want enough surface area to allow you to decorate and a fat enough candle so the wick burns down the center and not down the sides where your leaves and flowers will be.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. The pan should be deep enough for your candle to be submerged in it.
- Use your tongs to dip the candle into the boiling water. Hold there for about 1 – 2 minutes and remove. Place the warm candle on your parchment paper.
- Work quickly and press your flowers and leaves onto the softened wax on the sides of the candle. When you have the design you want, re-dip the candle in the water to coat and seal the herbs on the candle. This should only take about 1 minute more.
- Place the candle on the parchment paper to cool. Don’t worry if the sides are a bit uneven. You want your candle to look homemade. Once it’s dry, it’s ready to wrap and give away or fire it up.
Here are a few classic herbal seasoning blends to get you started…
Herbs de Provence
It’s a fancy way of saying the herbs that are native and commonly grown in the Provence region of southern France. There is no one set mixture, just as there is no one fixed recipe for B-B-Q sauce or garam masala. However herbs de Provence traditional contains basil, bay leaf, marjoram, rosemary, summer savory and thyme, with thyme at the forefront. Lavender is often included in the mix, although a little goes a long way. Most cooks adjust the proportions according to their own tastes, but here is a sample recipe.
- 2 Tablespoons dried basil
- 1 Tablespoon dried marjoram
- ½ Tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon dried summer savory
- 2 Tablespoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoon lavender flowers
- 1 bay leaf
For tossing into sauces or for an instant sauce when tossed with olive oil.
- 4 Tablespoons dried basil
- 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 Tablespoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried garlic
- 1 bay leaf
BBQ Rub For Meat & Veggies
- 3 Tablespoons dried basil
- 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon dried savory
- 1 teaspoon dried fennel
- 2 bay leaves
Air tight containers will help your herbs retain their freshness. Don’t forget to include a recipe or two!
5. Herbal Sugars
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh herbs
- 2 Cups of Sugar
- Mortar and pestle or Large spoon and bowl
- Air Tight Jar or Container
- Select 3-4 sprigs of fresh herbs. Good choices for infusing sugar include: lavender, mint, rosemary, sage or thyme.
- Gently bruise the leaves by crushing with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon. You don’t want a paste, but you do want to release the oil. So when you can smell the herbs more fully, you can stop bruising.
- Measure 2 cups of sugar.
- Add the sugar to the crushed herbs, a little at a time, stirring the herbs throughout the sugar.
- Place the sugar mixture in an air tight jar and allow to stand for 2 days in a cool, dry place.
- Open and stir the sugar every 2 – 3 days, to evenly distribute the herbal essence. The herbs still have moisture in them and stirring the sugar will keep it from clumping.
- The sugar should be ready after about 2 weeks of storing and stirring. The sugar will have absorbed some of the herbs oils and the herbs themselves will have begun to dry.
- Use the sugar, herb flecks and all, to season homemade goodies, iced tea and lemonade or when making homemade jellies.
- Batch may be doubled, but any larger and it’s hard to blend well.
- Store out of direct sunligh/8t.
- Sugar is good as long as the herbal smell is still aromatic and true.
- Herbal sugars make wonderful gifts.
There’s something special about making someone’s gift that makes me feel all warm & fuzzy inside. If you haven’t experienced the joy and warmth of creating a special gift for someone you love, these easy eco-friendly homemade gift ideas are a perfect way to start!
Do you have a favorite homemade gift you love to give for holidays and special occasions? Will you be giving any of these eco-friendly gift ideas a try? I’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment and share your thoughts below!
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