Homemade Gifts from the Garden

Christmas sure has crept up on us this year, so if you're stuck for a last-minute gift or just love to give something homemade, there's something for everyone in this blog!   

Gifts from the garden are personable, thoughtful, and make an excellent conversation starter amongst those lesser-known relatives around the Holidays! Plus, they're easy on your bank account at this expensive time of year.   

Infused olive oil   

This one is a little bit different! Various oils are a staple in many kitchens, particularly olive oil. For an extra special gift this year, why not create your own infused oil with a hand-written label featuring some recipe ideas?  

You will need olive oil, ingredients from your garden to infuse it with, and some glass jars with pourers or bottles. When it comes to choosing what to store your olive oil in, the Dollar store or Home Depot should have plenty of options for you to choose from. Some popular infusion choices include garlic, rosemary, chili, or sage.   

Once you have harvested your choice of ingredients to infuse, place them in a saucepan with 16 fluid ounces of olive oil and warm over a medium heat. This will allow the aromas to release. Once the liquid is warm and fragrant, take it off the heat to cool down before pouring it into a glass bottle of your choosing. If you want to go the extra mile this Christmas, create a personalized jar or bottle for that special someone! This can be done with stickers, paint, or a label maker. Top it off with a handwritten tag containing some recipe ideas. Flavored oils go great on pizza, over pasta, salads, potatoes, and more!  

how-to-make-infused-olive-oil

Propagated plants   

Many plants, herbs and vegetables can be grown from cuttings and make excellent Christmas gifts! Propagated plants are a great low-cost solution for gifting that simultaneously helps reduce wastage in your garden.   

Simply take a plant of your choosing: popular options include succulents, cacti, basil, and many other plants that do not have a woody stem. Take a glass jar and fill it with water. Place your cutting in the jar and wait for roots to form. Be sure to remove any roots that look rotten or unhealthy. When the roots have formed, your plant cutting will be ready for soil in its new home.   

Propagated plants can be indoor or outdoor depending on the gift's receiver and their options in terms of space and ability to provide for the plant's desired conditions, such as sunlight. When decorating your propagated plant jar, include a care instruction tag for the receiver. This should detail the name of the plant, how much water and sunlight it needs, and how big it will grow! The person receiving this gift will appreciate the thought and detail when receiving, especially for later on when the plant matures. If you're stuck for jar decoration ideas, check out Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration; you may even find some more fun DIY activities to show off your creative side.  

propogated-plant

Fresh harvest basket   

What better gift than a hamper? Particularly one that includes your own home-grown produce! Start by using a wicker or woven basket; those with handles are great for transporting your gift but aren't essential. Next, add some straw or tissue paper for filling around the produce to make the gift more aesthetically pleasing, but again, this is not essential.   
 

Now for the fun part; filling your basket! While this gift is primarily season-based, there are still plenty of options for what you can use to fill your harvest gift basket. Lemons, herbs, grapefruits, turnips, kale, tangerines, nuts, leeks, and radishes, to name a few! If you haven't had a lot of luck with growing produce this year, there are other ways to fill up your baskets, such as homemade jams, pickles, and cake. This is also an excellent opportunity to support small businesses using their produce or homemade goodies. Do some research or reach out to your local community for some ideas or inspiration.   

Dehydrated citrus   

Do you have a cocktail-lover in your life? Then this is the perfect gift for them! Since your favorite citrus is in season, this gift idea won't take you long at all. Start by picking your citrus; we love lemons, grapefruit, and oranges, particularly as these are pretty versatile as a garnish! Slice them to make even circles that are thin but without holes. If you have a dehydrator, set it to 135 degrees Fahrenheit and leave your citrus slices in for six to eight hours. Alternatively, you can use your oven. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and place a single layer of your citrus on a tray of your oven rack. Allow three to four hours for the citrus to dehydrate, and then, voila! Gift the slices in a jar with a lid to ensure they are stored air-tight. These are perfect for cocktails, desserts, and garnishes.  

cocktail-garnish

Homemade botanical soap  

Soaps are incredibly easy to make and are a very thoughtful gift when infused and decorated with herbs, flowers, and oils from your garden.  

Here is a super easy recipe:  

Ingredients:  

  • 20 oz. coconut oil  
  • 10 oz. olive oil  
  • 9 oz. distilled water  
  • 4.78 oz. 100 percent pure lye  
  • 20 to 40 drops of essential oils, if desired  
  • Dried herbs or flowers   

Equipment:   

  • Rubber gloves   
  • Safety goggles  
  • Well-ventilated work area  
  • Apron   
  • Long-sleeve shirt  
  • Oven mitt  
  • Immersion blender  
  • Slow cooker or crockpot  

There are so many different combinations to choose from when it comes to choosing what will go in your soaps. Popular options include lemon, rosemary, sage, thyme, peppermint or lavender. These can also act as natural colorants! Dried flowers are perfect for decoration and finishing touches too. 

Warning: if you are using lye, any utensils or cooking equipment that comes in contact with it should not be re-used for food preparation or cooking.   

Method:   

  1. Using a slow cooker or crockpot, set the temperature to low.  
  2. Once all of your ingredients are measured, add the coconut oil to your slow cooker or crockpot.  
  3. Start preparing your lye mixture, and don't forget to add your lye to water, not the other way around, as this can be dangerous.   
  4. Carefully stir the solution. The lye will become hot and appear to produce fumes; this is normal. Set it aside to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.  
  5. Once your coconut oil has melted, you can add olive oil.  
  6. Using a food thermometer, check the oil temperature. Once it has reached 120 to 130 degrees fahrenheit, use your immersion blender on a low speed.   
  7. Gently add the lye and avoid splashing the mixture.   
  8. Stir for a further 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture looks like pudding.   
  9. Cover the slow cooker or crockpot and allow to cook for a further 50 minutes on a low heat.   
  10. Once your mixture has cooled down, you can add your herbs, if desired, as well as essential oils.  
  11. Pour your mixture into soap molds, smoothing with a spatula. Top with dried herbs or flowers to decorate.  
  12. Remove your soaps from the molds and allow them to set for a minimum of 24 hours. The soap will continue to harden for one to four weeks after.  
  13. Wrap in tissue paper or a gift bag to make the perfect gift this Holiday season!   

homemade-soap

There you have it; our top picks for gifts from the garden. Happy Holidays!   

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