Herbal essence

Simple holiday gifts from the backyard

photo by erin harwood

The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming! For some this inspires a flurry of creativity, for others it inspires a feeling of anxiety. Gifts to give, goodies to bake, how’s a busy person supposed to get it all done? It is possible to enjoy the holidays, celebrate the season whatever your heritage, and also be in the moment with your family. Keeping it simple and sustainable, here are a couple of clever and undemanding things you can do this upcoming season to share the love and joy that the holidays are really about.

During the holidays, gifts are commonly exchanged. Coworkers, in-laws and other relatives, hitting the stores…it can definitely be overwhelming. What you need is a recipe for a simple gift you can make from ingredients you likely have in your kitchen.

Herbal body scrub

Take one cup of fine sugar or sea salt, mix in 1/2 cup of olive, almond or apricot oil, 1/4 cup of honey, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 10 drops of any essential oil (orange, mint, or lavender would be lovely). Place in a simple glass jar with a handwritten label. This will make a lovely gift, especially paired with a fair trade chocolate bar purchased from the outstanding Neighbors Market in Vancouver’s Uptown Village.

Herbal cooking salt

Add chopped herbs to sea salt for a simple gift for someone who likes to cook. Chop dried herbs, about two tablespoons, and layer with one cup of salt in a small jar. These herb infused salts are beautiful to display and also functional as they add wonderful, fresh flavor to dishes.

Herbal centerpiece

Your backyard or kitchen herb garden along with our regional trails can provide simple and fragrant decorations, too. Gather sage, rose hips, rosemary or thyme and tie around a candle with a ribbon or loosely arrange around the base of a candle inside a shallow decorative bowl. As they dry they will gently scent the air of your table and even help deter pests.

Holiday decor

Take rosemary or winter savory stems, and carefully bend into a small circle, tie with a ribbon and hang up to bring in a bit of the outdoors to decorate your home for the holidays.

Or, buy it the right way

In lieu of a homemade gift, purchase gifts made in others’ homes. A great event to stop by, which has an outstanding selection of sustainable, locally made gifts, is the Check ‘Em Off Green event, set this year for Saturday Dec. 14 at the Marshall Center in Vancouver. Simple, sustainable, and in the moment is the key for an outstanding herbal holiday.

Erin Harwood is one half of the dynamic herbal duo at Garden Delights, a mother-daughter operation based on five acres in Brush Prairie. They specialize in a wide variety of herbal products for people and pets along with fresh produce offered through their CSA. Everything is grown with care and thoughtfulness in partnership with Mother Nature and without chemicals. You can find them at the annual Farm Gals Holiday Market the first weekend of December at Half Moon Farms in Brush Prairie. www.gardendelightsfarm.com 

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