Herbal Gifts

Did you find everything on your shopping list on Black Friday? Or, are there still quite a few folks you just don’t know what to get? In today’s economy, buying presents is stressful in more ways than one. Here are some herbal gifts from the heart (and your kitchen) that don’t cost a lot and the personal touch can’t be beat!

For the ladies in your life, make some lightly-fragranced Rose Water. Pour two quarts boiling water over one cup tightly-packed rose petals (see if your florist will sell you day-old roses at a discount). Allow this to cool completely, strain and pour into a pretty bottle. This won’t be as strong smelling as a rose hydrosol (considerably more time-consuming and difficult) but is a nice, quick alternative.

For anyone who likes their sweets, Herb Honey make a gift that gives for quite awhile! In a saucepan, combine a teaspoon of dried herb that has been slightly crushed and one cup honey. Warm the honey slowly (on very, very low heat), stirring constantly. After it’s been warm for about two minutes, pout into a jar, cap tightly and put in a cupboard for about a week. After a week, strain out the herb and put in a jar – a jelly jar works well. Tie a ribbon around the cap and voila! a nice present. Some herbs to use here might be thyme, lavender, any of the mints or rosemary.

Ads on TV are touting all sorts of air fresheners nowadays. Simmering Potpourri has been around for ages and everyone loves how it makes the house smell. A recipe I got out of Herb Companion a year ago still floats my boat:

2 cups star anise
1 cup coriander seed
2 cups dried orange peel
1/2 cup whole cloves
1/2 cup crushed nutmegs
10 drops cinnamon essential oil
10 drops allspice essential oil
20 drops sweet orange essential oil

In a gallon jar, layer the ingredients, adding in the orange essential oil with its herb and the other two with a different layer each. Shake well once a day for a week, then stir well to mix everything together. Makes about 2 quarts. Don’t have all the ingredients? It doesn’t hurt the recipe at all to omit one or two.

Many people love Bath Salts. Mix together 1/3 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup epsom salts and 1/3 cup finely-ground sea salt. To this add up to 15 drops of your chosen essential oil, or a combination thereof. Mix very, very well to get the oil distributed all the way through. You can add a few drops of food coloring if you like. Put in a jar (clear if you’ve used food coloring), and tie instructions to the jar with a ribbon. 2-4 tablespoons in a full bathtub is what you want to tell them. Depending on who you’re giving this to, lavender or rose are sweet-smelling, rosemary & peppermint together make a nice pick-me-up or try a combination of citrus oils for a fresh smell.

Other folks (including guys) like Bath Powders. The recipe I found makes 16 ounces:

5 ounces cornstarch
2 ounces fine rice flour
8 ounces orris root powder
1 ounce selection of dried herbs, powdered (use your clean food processor, blender or coffee grinder)

Combine everything well. For the herbs, see the selection for bath salts. Guys might like patchouli or sandalwood as well.

I know communication today is just about all electronic but there are those of us who still actually write letters. If you have someone like that on your list, how about Scented Stationery? Purchase a box of stationery (yes, you can still find it in stores like Walmart). Add one drop of essential oil to a corner of each piece of paper. Rebox. Try Rosemary essential oil for someone writing her sweetheart stationed overseas (Shakespeare: “There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembrance”) or Lavender for your grandmother. I’d say use Rose essential oil but that’s expensive.

Other ideas include Drawer Sachets, Dream Pillows, and Herbal Vinegars. Do some internet research – you’ll be surprised just what ideas you might find!