When it comes time to plan a celebration—be it a birthday, a holiday event or a good old-fashioned dinner party—treat the special people in your life with homemade gifts made from herbs grown on your farm. The number of ways you can incorporate culinary and medicinal herbs into giftable items are too numerous to count, and we have many ideas listed here. However, when you package them just right, you have a special gift that’s as personal as it is uncommon.
For Your Bartender Brother: Herbal Drink Kit
For the person in your life who likes to mix up a cocktail or can’t start the day without a latte, an herbal drink kit adds some excitement to that person’s next beverage. When packaging your kit, include items that are versatile—things that can be served hot or cold and during any part of the day.
- Herbal Syrup: You can make herbal syrups just like a simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part liquid), using a strong herbal tea in place of the water. Think of syrups that would pair well with lemonades, be a sweet addition to soda water, or could be added to a cocktail or espresso drink. Try single-flavor syrups such as rose, mint or chamomile, or get adventurous with herbal combos such as rosemary-orange zest or ginger-lemon.
- Herbal Coffee: Give the coffee lover in your life an extra-special cuppa by mixing in ground herbs with coffee grounds (about 1 tablespoon herbs per cup of coffee grounds). Add lavender for a crisp cold brew, chaga for immune-boosting benefits, cinnamon for holiday flair or cardamom for a soothing sip.
- Herbal Tea: Whether served hot, cold or in a cocktail, tea mixes are essential in any herbal drink kit. Try a refreshing mint/lavender tea, a relaxing chamomile/rose tea, or aim for something a little more nourishing such as a lemon balm/nettles tea. Your options are nearly limitless when it comes to tea mixes, so find a favorite recipe or create your own.
For Your Dinner Party Hosts: Herbal Entertainment Kit
Anyone who throws a good dinner party will appreciate having herbal novelties on hand that they can use to impress their guests.
- Herbal Wine: Infuse a white or red wine with whole spices and place in a pretty, clear bottle for a beautiful gift that can be served with dinner. Rosemary in white wine is a simple infusion that—fun fact—was also traditionally used to help improve memory. During the holidays, give an all-in-one mulled wine with warm spices such as cinnamon, ginger, juniper berries, cloves and orange peel in red wine. For something light and refreshing to serve while dining al fresco, add honeysuckle and yarrow flowers to a crisp white wine.
- Herbal Truffles: I know very few people who refuse chocolates—particularly when those chocolates are hand-made with your own special herbal touch. While you can make an herbal extract (see below) and add the flavor in place of or in addition to vanilla in your favorite truffle or fudge recipe, I love putting my own spin on these Raw Vegan Truffles from the blog “Local Milk.”
- Pressed Herb Coasters: Not all dinner party gifts must be edible. If you’re crafty, try pressing your favorite herbs and arranging them artfully on these simple DIY coasters that your hosts can use when entertaining guests.
For Your Stressed-Out Girlfriend: Herbal Self-Care Kit
Very few of us take enough R&R time, so for your friend who has been pushing it extra hard, give her an excuse to treat herself to some self-care time with homemade body products that nourish the skin (and the soul).
- Face Mask: Sometimes giving your face a refreshing glow is what you need to reduce stress. Easily create an herbal face mask by mixing a carrier powder (bentonite clay for oily skin or ground oatmeal for dry skin) with one or more skin-brightening powdered herbs, such as calendula, lavender, rose, thyme, rosemary or activated charcoal. The powder can be mixed with water or even an herbal tea to form a paste that is then applied to the face. Combine the face-mask powder in a half-cup mason jar, and include a tag with ingredients and instructions for use.
- Foot Scrub: Combine granulated sugar, apricot oil, and your favorite herbs and essential oils for a delicious treat for the feet. Grind herbs such as lavender, rose, rosemary or chamomile into the sugar, and add enough apricot oil so that the sugar is spreadable but not overly drippy. For extra scent and aromatherapy benefits, mix a drop or two of a complementary essential oil, such as sweet orange, lavender or rose geranium.
- Herbal Oil: While essential oils have received a lot of hype in self-care circles, by infusing a carrier oil with herbs, you get more benefits for you skin and body than the essential oil alone can provide. Add your herb of choice to a jar, then pour a carrier oil, such as avocado oil, sesame oil, coconut oil or apricot oil, over the top. Sit the jar in a sunny window to infuse for about four weeks, and then strain and bottle the oil. Herbs that may be particularly nice to try include St. John’s wort for a beautiful red oil to beat the winter blues, rosemary to invigorate fatigued muscles, rose to enliven the spirits or calendula for a golden skin-soother.
For the Baker: Herbal Kitchen Kit
For the person who is always experimenting in the kitchen, herbal ingredients can provide that person even more possibilities. Add one of each of these into your kit, or make kits with a variety of one product.
- Herbal Flavor Extracts: Herbal extracts that can be used in place of or alongside vanilla can add excitement to baking. They are made by infusing the herb in 80-proof liquor. Brandy or vodka are most commonly used, but you can also use other liquors, such as bourbon or rum. Including traditional culinary herbs, such as mint, vanilla, lemon peel or cinnamon, can make for a more versatile kit, but particularly for someone who enjoys pastry-making, other herbs, such as chamomile, lavender or rose, can inspire new possibilities. (For extra help on making extracts, check out the Mountain Rose Herbs blog.)
- Herbed Sugars & Salts: Herbed sugars and salts are fun for adding easy flavor to any simple recipe. They are made by grinding the herb into the sugar or salt. (Get instructions here.). Any of the herbs mentioned in the herbal extracts will work for this, or try anything that happens to be growing in your garden, including dill, oregano, basil or chives.
- Herbal Vinegar: Much like herbal wines, herbal vinegars make a pretty gift when packaged in a glass bottle, so consider combining herbs that look beautiful together as well as make for a tasty vinaigrette. For something more savory, pack garlic, sage, rosemary and thyme into an apple cider vinegar. Infuse balsamic vinegar with something fruity, such as figs or blood orange. A wine or champagne vinegar with floral herbs, such as rose, lemon balm or lavender, can give a dressing a more romantic edge.
For a Crunchy New Mama: Baby Care Kit
For new parents who want to avoid putting harsh chemicals on a new baby, a kit made with all-natural products makes the perfect baby gift.
- Baby Balm: A simple beeswax salve infused with the gentle herbs comfrey leaf and root, St. John’s wort and calendula can be used to soothe a baby’s skin for many conditions including diaper rash and scratches. (Note: Do not use essential oils in a salve for babies unless you have experience with essential oils.)
- Bug-Bite Remedy: For babies that spend time outside, bug-bite relief is essential. Infuse apple cider vinegar with plantain leaf for two weeks, strain out the leaves, and then mix in a 1:1 solution with witch hazel to calm the itch.
- Bath Tea: Make a relaxing bath tea that can be used to calm down a baby before bedtime. Combine the flowers of chamomile, rose and lavender, and place the mixture in a small muslin bag. Include instructions to place bag in the bath water to steep—much like you would a tea bag—before bring the baby to the bath.
You can customize these herbal gift kits to fit the giftee—does your mom prefer the flavor of rose to chamomile in her warm beverage, or does your best friend love the smell of citrus to lavender in her self-care items? Then switch up the ingredients to suit their tastes. You can even add your favorite signature herb to any product listed here. Whatever you do, have fun with the preparation and enjoy giving a gift of the garden and of the heart.