Do you want to expand your gift-giving to fun, garden-inspired personal selections? I think any homemade, personal gift that is given to someone with care, especially inspired by something that you grew yourself is one of the best types of gifts you can give. All you may need is a little inspiration a few fun ideas.
I’ve been making my own garden-inspired gifts for several years now, but I think in this year and season, in particular, homemade gifts and those that truly come from our heart, mean a little more than they ever have before. We talked about this recently on The Beginner’s Garden and you can listen to that below or continue reading.
Why Homemade Garden Gifts?
Before I get to all the fun gift ideas, I do want to say that there’s a reason I choose to make my own gifts for friends and family. First, I don’t think you can ever replicate the personal touch that a handmade gift means from something purchased in a store.
Second, there’s a frugality involved when we make our gifts. I’ve actually done the math on this and making my own gifts, jams, lips balms, spices, etc., (as we will talk about below) is much cheaper, and in most cases free, when you have grown the items from your garden and make them yourselves.
Finally, it’s truly an enjoyable experience, and you don’t have to have any special talents or skills! Trust me, I’m only a crafter wannabe, so if I can do these projects, anyone can. It’s also a great way to get creative, include your kiddos, and turn the holiday gift-giving process into memories that will last beyond this one season or holiday.
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Home Canned Goods
Of course, the obvious first choice when we think about garden gifts is home-canned goods! People love these gifts because they are not the same as what you would find on a shelf. You can make unique and rare combinations that your loved ones will surely enjoy.
Jams and Jellies
When we think of jams and jellies, we may think of fruit. But, don’t limit yourself to yummy fruit jams. Red pepper jelly or jalapeno jelly is such an easy and delicious treat and is a perfect choice for extended family or teacher gifts. Add some green food coloring to jalapeno jelly and gift both red pepper jelly and jalapeno jelly at Christmas time for a festive homemade combination.
I think the key to all garden gifts is use what you have. So, while I tend to have tons of strawberries and do make lots of strawberry jam, one year I had an abundance of cantaloupe, so I gifted cantaloupe jam to a family member who loves. melons. The next year, I had more blackberries than I knew what to do with, so we gifted blackberry jalapeno jam.
This is the most requested canned good item that I make. I use the Ball Blue Book recipe (like this one) and I promise you that sweet pickle relish doesn’t taste like anything you could ever purchase. For people who don’t garden or even those who do, but don’t grow their own cucumbers, this is the perfect gift.
While I don’t typically can my elderberry syrup, because I don’t want to lose the beneficial immune fighting properties that would be lost in the canning process, this is a great gift, especially for teachers and those working with children. If you don’t can it, just make sure you put an expiration date on your syrup. This will depend on the amount of honey in a recipe, but most elderberry syrups kept refrigerated will keep for a couple of months.
Spice It Up!
If your garden is overflowing with herbs, spices, and specialty peppers, making your own spice blends is such a fun gift. Friends and family love to receive these because they aren’t full of the preservatives and fillers that we get in the store. From rubs to fajita/taco seasoning, homemade ranch seasoning, and all that’s in between, there are endless possibilities.
I use small jars from a craft store and decorate them with cute tags. Like the other gifts, I stick to using what I have on hand.
Tip: let the recipient know what it is that they can use this spice for. If you’re gifting them a rub, give them examples of what meats work with it or include a recipe.
Special Recipe with Excess Harvest
Gifting excess garden harvest with a special recipe is another way to give a unique garden gift.
We’re fortunate to live in an area where we can grow an abundance of sweet potatoes. One of our favorite recipes at home is Sweet Potato Nachos. We eat them constantly! One way to gift this harvest is a little basket with the serving of sweet potatoes needed and the special seasoning blend that we use to go on it. Add a cute printable tag to it with the recipe and they have the two main ingredients needed for a meal.
Oils and Vinegars
A great and simple gift is a loaf of crusty bread and homemade garlic-infused olive oil. Who isn’t a huge fan of bread? You can even make your own bread, include a favorite recipe on a printable tag, or simply throw a loaf in from your farmer’s market.
You could also make your own herbal vinegar in an elegant bottle, using herbs you’ve picked in your own garden. Gift the herbal vinegar with a favorite recipe or instructions on how to use it.
Herbal Tea Blends
This is a gift where you need to know your receiver. Herbal tea is not for everyone, but for those who appreciate them, nothing beats a homegrown herbal tea blend. Herbs we grow at home are much stronger and more flavorful than anything found in the store.
One of my favorite herbal tea blends to gift is this collection of cold care blends.
I also recommend giving instructions on your herbal tea blend. If you are gifting peppermint tea, make sure you list ingredients, dosage, and uses for it. Not only is this needed as a tea drinker, but just that extra special touch that you took makes the gift even more special.
This may be my favorite category on the list. People love to receive body care products, especially women, teens and young girls. So often, we find body care products on the market are made with such questionable ingredients. Making our own eliminates the worry and provides a special touch.
Keep in mind that the shelf life on these items will often be less time than your store-bought products. This is because we don’t add unnatural preservatives to our home made gifts. And just like most of our gifts, we recommend listing the ingredients on the label to avoid any unexpected allergic reactions. (Some people have skin allergies to even natural ingredients.)
Here are a few of my favorite body care items to make and gift:
While I’ve tried many recipes for lip balm, my absolute favorite recipe is this Eucalyptus Lip Balm. This is the most nourishing lip balm I’ve ever tried and it’s by far our favorite gift that we give. It’s so easy to make and we gift it often. (This eucalyptus essential oil from Plant Therapy is what makes this recipe shine.)
It’s actually much easier to make lotion bars than people think and if you use herbs and flowers that you already grow in your garden, the options and varieties can be endless. You can add essential oils to make it customizable to the recipient.
While this has a steeper learning curve than lotion bars, if you can find a recipe that works for you, body butter can be wonderful.
Melt and Pour Soaps
I like to take molds from the local craft store, melt a soap of choice (you can get this at your local craft store as well), add a colorant, and scent them with my favorite essential oils.
Sugar Scrubs and Bath Salts
This is one of those gifts that we don’t usually make ourselves, but when we receive them, we are definitely using them! There are thousands of recipes online for sugar scrubs and bath salts and when you add in your garden flowers, herbs, and oils, this makes such a perfect and frugal gift!
A fun way to jazz up your bath salts is to add them to those clear ball ornaments that your kids can decorate. This is a great gift for the grandparents, aunts, sisters in your life! (Teachers, too.)
Good bath bombs are expensive! While there is a learning curve in making your own, once you get this down, it’s so worth it, as it’s fun, creative, and so much cheaper!
Specialty Body Cream and Rubs
I had an abundance of cayenne pepper last year. With those peppers, I made my own cayenne infused oil, which I turned into a cream and gifted to family members who had arthritic issues. It’s so warming and works for minor aches and pains (recipe from Rosemary Gladstar’s book: Medicinal Herbs). I also made an eczema cream one year that has become a staple in our home (recipe from Colleen Codekas’s book: Healing Herbal Infusions). Specialty creams are a great gift!
Essential Oil Roll-Ons
Essential oils are very popular right now. You can make your own blend for the perfect holiday gift. Add the oils (properly diluted) to a roll-on bottle and it’s the cutest gift. Ideas include headache blends, calming blends, bug bite blends, etc. So many possibilities.
My favorite essential oil company is Plant Therapy. I’ve been using them for many years, and if you’re just getting started, the fragrances I use the most are lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, and Germ Fighter. (Get free shipping on your order here.)
Home Care Gifts
There are lots of options when it comes to gifts for the home and making your own doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. A few of our favorites to gift are hand-poured candles, essential oil diffuser blends (with that cute custom label of course), and even something simple as a drawer sachet. These are perfect little stocking stuffers or neat to go on a gift with the tag.
As with all of the ideas shared here, use what you have on hand. Start there first before you run out to the store and see what inventive and creative ideas you can come up with.
Then, plan ahead for next year’s garden and potential future gifts. For example, if you love homemade ranch seasoning like I do and want to make more of it for gifts, be sure and plant the herbs next year so you’ll have plenty. This is just one example of how to use your garden for fun, unique, personal, and frugal gift-giving.
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