As we head into the holiday season and our minds turn towards gift ideas, I love to come up with fun ways to share herbs with my friends and family in the form of homemade gifts. This can be a great way to feature herbs you’ve grown in your own garden, to show off your culinary skills, or to just tailor a gift to the specific tastes of your recipients based on what flavors you know they enjoy. 

 

Winter Tea 

Tea is wonderful at any point in the year, but there’s something delightful about warming your hands with a cup of hot tea in December. This seasonal winter blend is one of my personal favorites that I return to again and again, and I think you will too. 

2 parts oatstraw 

1 part nettles 

1 part elderflower 

1 part peppermint 

1 part chamomile 

1 part hibiscus 

½ part elderberries 

½ part rose hips 

½ part cinnamon chips 

Mix all of the above ingredients thoroughly, then store in an airtight container. Keep out of direct sunlight. Use within one year. 

You can gift a bag of this blend on its own, or turn it into a cute gift basket by pairing it with a fun tea infuser and/or mug. Your loved ones will think of you fondly every time they brew up another batch! 

 

Herbed Salts 

For those in your life who love to cook, how about a set of herbed finishing salts? They’ll love getting to experiment with these, and if you’re lucky they’ll invite you to sample what they create with these. Everybody wins! 

To make an herbal finishing salt, you’ll blend a good quality coarse salt (I love sea salt) with fresh herbs. You can blend them together in a food processor or a spice grinder, or by chopping your herbs as finely as possible before adding them to the salt. No matter the herb blend, you want an equal ratio of herbs to salt (so one cup total of herbs to one cup of salt). After you’ve mixed your herbs into your salt, spread everything out in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and place it in a well-ventilated area. Stir the mixture at least once a day so that the blend doesn’t clump together. Depending on the humidity in your house, it will take 3-5 days to dry. Once everything is fully dried, you can package it up into small containers for gift giving. 

 

Zesty Italian Blend 

¼ C sage 

¼ C rosemary 

¼ C basil 

¼ C oregano 

4 minced garlic cloves 

1 C coarse salt 

 

Sunshine and Spice Salt 

3 Tbs lemon zest 

3 Tbs orange zest 

¼ C thyme 

¼ C chili powder 

1/8 C cumin powder 

1/8 C coriander powder 

1 C coarse salt 

 

Herbal Infused Wine 

If you’re heading to a small gathering, taking a bottle of wine as a gift for your hosts is always a nice gesture. You can jazz it up and make it even more special by infusing some herbs into it ahead of time though. This turns a simple bottle of wine into something unique and thoughtfulyour hosts know you planned ahead to make this for them rather than dashing into the store on the way over. Extra bonus: you can do this with a relatively inexpensive bottle, no need to spend a lot of money. 

 You’ll want to pour your wine into a jar that is large enough to hold both the wine and the herbs you’ll be adding. A standard bottle of wine is 750 ml, or about 25 ounces, so a quart Mason jar works well for this with room to spare. After you’ve added your herbs, put a secure lid on the jar, and give it a good shake. Place the jar out of direct sunlight and make sure to shake it up once or twice a day. Do this for at least a week. Then you can strain the herbs out of your wine and, using a funnel, pour the wine back into its original bottle. Now you’ve got a great gift and conversation starter for the next dinner or gathering you’re invited to! 

 For a red wine: three tablespoons of dried rose petals, two ounces high quality dark chocolate or two tablespoons cacao nibs, and (optional) one dried chile or a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Go easy on the chile or cayenne if you don’t normally like much heat! It’s easier to add more spice later than to try to dilute something that came out too hot for your liking. 

 For a white wine: three tablespoons of dried lemon balm or holy basil, one tablespoon dried orange peel, and one vanilla bean. Split and scrape out the vanilla bean to maximize flavor extraction. 

 I hope you’ll try one or more of these ideas to incorporate some herbs into your festivities. Whatever you decide to whip up this holiday season, I wish you lovely celebrations with your loved ones and, perhaps, your favorite herb or two. 

 

Sara Schuster is a queer community herbalist and medicinal herb farmer. You can find her classes, podcasts, and herbal products at FoxandElder.com or on Instagram @foxandelder. 

Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

Rumble Boxing Gulch, Nashville


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