Have a Herbal Christmas

herbal gifts for christmas

If you grow your own herbs, you can make delightful and unique Christmas presents for your relatives and friends. Not only are they more personal, but the lovely fragrance of herbs will make unwrapping the gift even more special, and they are a lovely way of using dried herbs kept from harvest time.

With a little muslin and a sewing needle, you can make herbal bags for all occasions, for the bath, the linen cupboard and the kitchen. Just fill them with dried herbs, flowers and other ingredients.

To make a milk and lavender bath bag, make a small muslin bag about 3x4 inches. Fill it with an equal mixture of dried skim milk and lavender buds. Tie the neck of the bag tightly with thin ribbon, and fashion a loop with the ribbon so it can hang over the tap.

As the water gushes over the bag, it turns the bath water into a soothing lavender scented milk bath. Make half a dozen of these and present them in a pretty box lined with tissue paper.

You can ring the changes on the milk bath recipe by substituting dried rose petals, chamomile, or an invigorating mixture of rosemary and lemon balm.

Fill the bags with dried tansy, mint and pyrethrum and you can present them as linen cupboard moth repellents. You can also layer sheets of wrapping paper with these herbs strewn between and leave them in a cool dry place for a week or two before Christmas. Wrap your moth repellants carefully in this paper and it can be reused by the recipient as shelf liners.

Make a larger muslin bag, about 6x4 inches and you can create a soothing herbal sleep pillow for your favorite insomniac. Fill the bag with lavender, mint and lemon balm, or lavender and hops. The recipient simply slips the sleep pillow between the pillow case and the pillow.

You needn't make bags for culinary herbal mixtures like Fines Herbes and Bouquet Garni. These can be presented in pretty glass or pottery jars, to make the present extra special.

To make Fines Herbes, mix two parts chopped dried parsley and chervil with one part chives and tarragon. To make Bouquet Garni, you need two parts chopped dried parsley, thyme, marjoram and one crushed bay leaf.

Beautiful bottles can be recycled into gorgeous Christmas presents of scented oils and vinegars. Just fill the bottle with olive oil or apple cider vinegar, and slide sprigs of herbs into the bottle. Leave in a warm place, like the drying cupboard or near the heater, for a week or two. For culinary use, add sprigs of rosemary, thyme and marjoram to olive oil, and mint, tarragon and garlic to vinegar.

To create oils and lotions for the bathroom, you need plain oil such as unscented baby oil, to which you can add springs of lavender, borage and dried rose petals for lovely bath oil. For a lotion you need a 50/50 mixture of witch hazel and distilled water, to which you can add sprigs of lavender and a few drops of lavender oil to make a refreshing toilet water.

Finally, while you are creating lovely herbal gifts, why not decorate with herbs for a deliciously scented Christmas? Sprigs of dried lavender will add a delicious fragrance to a door wreath or bunch of greenery, while a mixture of dried rosemary, chamomile and thyme, spiced with whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and crushed nutmeg in a pot pourri bowl, adds a very Christmassy fragrance.

Let the scent of herbs be your Christmas signature fragrance!

author: Gail Kavanagh

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