Give the gift of herbal healing this holiday season with simple and unique homemade gifts
Items purchased from a store never feel quite as good as giving gifts that have been lovingly handcrafted. Leave the usual stress of holiday shopping behind by creating these homemade goodies for your loved ones! Sipping on a comforting mug of tea and listening to some of your favorite tunes will help ensure that your gifting experience is much more enjoyable than a shopping trip to a crowded store could ever be.
Last year, I collected and dried wild Cedar tips from the woods and then packed them into small cotton muslin bags which I stamped with images of birds, owls, trees, and botanicals. They were a hit! Everyone loved them and the lingering herbal aromas that they imparted.
- Herbs or Spices: I used Lavender and Cedar Tips, but any fragrant herb or spice can be utilized. Some ideas include Cardamom, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Myrrh, Peppermint, Lemongrass, Lemon Verbena, Rose petals, Rosemary, Star Anise, Spearmint, and White Sage.
- Bags: I used pre-made cotton muslin bags from Mountain Rose Herbs, but you can also make your own bags with cotton or muslin fabric.
Directions: Coarsely grind herbs and spices in a coffee grinder to release their scent. The resins and spices will be too dense for a coffee grinder, but you can coarsely break them up using a mortar and pestle. Stamp the bags if desired, then stuff with herbs and spices. Simply add a few drops of essential oil if you wish for a stronger aroma.
Simple to make, these sweet herbal syrups make a lovely, luxurious, and unique gift that anyone is sure to enjoy! Delicious atop pancakes, waffles, ice cream, cakes, strawberry shortcake, fresh fruit, crepes, or stirred into lemonade, iced tea, or cocktails. You can even mix them with soda water to create your own herbal sodas.
- Herbs and Spices: Fresh or dried organic Basil, Cloves, Cinnamon, Ginger root, Hibiscus flowers Lavender flowers, Lemon Balm, Lemon peel, Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Orange peel, Peppermint, Rose petals, Rosehips, Star Anise, Spearmint, Vanilla beans. If using fresh herbs, gather approximately 1 bunch. Dried herbs can be added to taste, but plan on using approximately ¼ cup per batch.
Directions: Bring two cups of water to a boil and then add two cups of organic sugar. Allow the sugar to dissolve, then remove from the heat and add herbs. Cover the pot, and allow the herbs to steep until the mixture cools. You can remove the herbs sooner if the syrup reaches the flavor that you desire before it finishes cooling. Or, you can allow the syrup to sit overnight if you prefer a stronger syrup. Once you are satisfied with the flavor, strain out the herbs and pour the remaining liquid into pretty glass bottles. Attach a label with recipes or ideas for usage (optional), and you are finished! The syrup should last for at least 6 months when stored in a refrigerator.
Herbal Infused Sugars and Salts
Herbal infused sugars and salts are a fun way to turn ordinary ingredients into something special! Use in the same manner as unseasoned sugar or salt, or use as a finishing touch to any dish.
Just imagine Cardamom spiced sugar stirred into coffee, Cinnamon sugar sprinkled into a warm cup of Chamomile tea, Lavender sugar sprinkled over Crème Brule, Clove sugar atop homemade pumpkin bread, or Lemon Verbena sugar sprinkled over shortbread cookies.
Herbal salts are a versatile ingredient delightful in soups, sauces, stews, and roasted vegetables or meats. Savory Rosemary salt may be sprinkled over homemade focaccia, Basil salt atop freshly sliced heirloom tomatoes, Sage infused salt on roasted root vegetables, or enjoy a margarita dressed up with a Chili Pepper salt rim. Yum!
- Organic sugar or sea salt (coarse or fine).
- Herbs for Sugar: Dried organic Basil, Cardamom pods, Chamomile flowers, Cinnamon sticks, Cloves, Ginger root, Lavender flowers, Lemon Balm, Lemon peel, Lemon Verbena, Orange peel, Oregano, Peppermint, Rose petals, Rosemary, Sage, Star Anise, Thyme, or Vanilla Beans.
- Herbs for Salt: Dried organic Basil, Cayenne, Chili Peppers, Chives, Coriander seeds, Cumin, Dill, Garlic, Ginger root, Lavender flowers, Lemon Balm, Lemon peel , Lemon Verbena, Marjoram, Mustard seeds, Orange peel, Oregano, Parsley, Peppermint, Rosemary, Summer or Winter Savory, Tarragon, or Thyme.
Directions: Use 1 part herb or spice to 4 parts salt or sugar. Crush the herbs in a mortar and pestle, or whirl in a food processor or coffee grinder. Mix the herbs with sugar or salt. When using hard herbs and spices like Cinnamon sticks, Cardamom pods, or Star Anise, simply place into sugar or salt and allow to infuse for 2-4 weeks, then remove the herbs and spices. The sugar or salt will be infused with the delectable flavor and aroma of the herb. Package in pretty, airtight glass bottles, jars, or tins. Add labels and a bit of decorative ribbons or twine, if desired. For a creative presentation, you can layer each herb separately into the jar, with instructions to mix the herbs together before using. To easily transform these into a main gift, give sets of the salts or sugars and include recipe ideas, or pair the salts with jars of whole pink, green, or rainbow peppercorns.
A perfect gift for the tea connoisseur or budding tea enthusiast, tea samplers are a fun way to try new teas. They are so simple and inexpensive to create that you can easily give them to everyone on your gift list!
- Teas of your choice, or create your own tea blends.
- Glass jars or aluminum tins.
Place loose-leaf teas into containers and decorate with a label and brewing instructions. To make a set of tea samplers, simply stack the containers and wrap together with ribbon and raffia. You can easily turn this into a main gift by including a tea pot or tea set, tea strainers, and a book about tea.
Here are a few tea sampler set ideas:
Black Tea Sampler: Fill tins with English Breakfast, Earl Grey, and Mango Ceylon. Add aged paper labels, include a mesh tea infuser, and wrap the set in black raffia.
Green Tea Sampler:Fill containers with classic green teas of Genmaicha, Jasmine, Gunpowder, and Pu’erh. Include a little card describing the history of green tea and a bamboo tea strainer.
Herbal Tea Sampler:Fill glass jars with some of these favorite blends from Mountain Rose Herbs: Dawn Chorus Tea, Dream Tea, Echinacea & Roots Tea, Evening Repose Tea, Fairytale Tea, Firefly Chai, Hibiscus High Tea, Peace Tea, or Winter Spice Tea. Include a Celestial Tea Strainer and wrap with the jars with labels and colorful ribbons.
Other Stocking Stuffer Ideas:
- Packets of herbal and medicinal seeds.
- Homemade lip balm.
- Healing herbal salves.
- Natural incense.
- Essential oils (some good basics are Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, and Rosemary).
- Herbal wreaths.
- White Sage, Cedar, Mugwort, or Sweetgrass smudge sticks.
- Bath salts.
- Beeswax or soy candles.
Supplies for these recipes and gift giving ideas can be found on our website: www.mountainroseherbs.com
I hope that you enjoy these recipes and gift ideas!