The season is here again. The air is crisp and there are colored lights everywhere. It’s truly a lovely time of cheer and good will. However, if I may be perfectly honest, it seems that people around me move quicker during the holiday season, as if they are in a hurry. For me, it’s a season to reflect on my priorities and to share what truly matters …. connection, family, friendship and our earth. It’s a time to connect and focus on what we really value and what we want to see in the world. I like to slow things down in contrast to the consumer frenzy. Why not spend more time with family and less time at the mall? In fact, the holidays provide a great opportunity to come together and get creative as a family.
Gifts are beautiful expressions of the love we share. I personally love it when someone gives me something made with his or her hands. It speaks volumes about how much they care. They took the time and energy to create something special for me.
This is why I’m a big fan of Do-It-Yourself Christmas gifts. I can hardly wait for school to be out so the kids can be home and we can all have fun getting creative with our gift making.
I also appreciate the work of local artists. If I am to purchase a gift, I go to my local farmers market, art fair or order directly from artisans. There is nothing quite like gifts which were created by loving artisan hands. I enjoy supporting people in my community. I am blessed with creative and talented friends who make jewelry, clothing, photography, food, pottery and art; so there is a lot to choose from.
I like to draw and write, so naturally I often make an illustration with a poem and put it into a pretty frame … Voila! There is my Christmas gift to my best friend. Everyone has talents and abilities that come naturally to them. My best friend loves to garden, so she often gives her friends garden starter kits. These gifts inspire people to get their hands in the earth and start a few pots of food at home. It’s as easy as finding a recycled box or pretty bag, and adding some gloves, a trowel and a couple bags of seeds. Add a note with tips on how to grow a garden and decorate the box or bag with pretty fall colored leaves, cranberry garlands and/or pine branches.
I love bringing a little nature back home after a hike. There are so many beautiful leaves, branches and even rocks on the ground. They lead me to a fun gift idea that small children will enjoy making, and grandparents, uncles and aunts will be delighted to receive — painted rocks. It’s recommended to look for smooth rocks so that the surface is easier to paint on. Children have so much fun creating patterns and combining colors, even writing a word or a sentence, depending on their age and abilities of course. I still have a rock my daughter made when she was five, such a special gift.
Making raw truffles is fun, and they are an easy and nutrient rich, delicious gift. This means no guilt! Simply place 1 C. raw cashews and 1/2
C. dried shredded coconut in a food processor and pulse until ingredients resemble fine flour. Then add 4-5 pitted medjool dates, 1 T. lucuma, 1/2 T. maca, 1 T. coconut oil, pinch of salt and a couple pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg. Roll into spheres and sprinkle them with bee pollen, hemp seeds, cacao powder, and nibs. You can make one of each and then arrange them in a pretty box. This is one of my favorite gifts to make, and people always seem delighted receiving something yummy and healthy.
Bath salts make great gifts and are very cost efficient. You might already have the ingredients at home. Mix 3/4 cup Epsom salts, 1/2 cup coarse salt(Himalayan, kosher, dead sea, etc.) 1 T. dried rosemary, 1 T. dried lavender buds, 1 T. almond oil, 7-10 drops of lavender essential oil. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and let rest in an airtight container for a couple days so that herbs infuse the salt. Makes about 12 ounces. I like putting the bath salts into small jars with lids and wrapping the jar with a ribbon and a sprig of lavender and a Christmas note.
Similar to the bath salts, sugar scrubs are easy to make. In a large bowl, mix 1 C. brown sugar, 1/2 C. raw, unrefined coconut oil, 2 T. almond oil, 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil. There, you have it — easy and luxurious!
Flavored honey is another Christmas favorite. I love honey — raw, unfiltered local honey. This recipe is so easy and satisfying to make. Simply pour raw honey into a larger mason jar and add a few rosemary sprigs, sage, lavender, vanilla bean, etc. Let rest for a week, then remove the herbs. Pour flavored honey into a small jar with a ribbon and a note. My favorite is scraping the vanilla bean into the honey, mixing well and done! Use the rest of the vanilla bean for tea.
Tea blends are also gifts that everyone can enjoy. I like to purchase herbs in bulk; but others, such as nettle, calendula and sage, I harvest and dry myself. I dehydrate the herbs along with slices of oranges in my dehydrator. You can also use an oven at the lowest temp. for a couple hours
Roasted and/or dehydrated nuts make a wonderful gift as well. You can choose one type of nut or a blend of your favorites. I usually make 4 C. nuts, 1/3 C. maple syrup, 2 T. coconut oil, 1 T. pumpkin spice, pinch of salt and cinnamon. Coat nuts well and dehydrate at 115 for 8-12 hrs. or overnight.
Place in pretty bags or jars.
My daughter made little baby booties for our neighbor’s baby this year. She has been crocheting for a couple of years, so she can make all kinds of awesome warm gifts such as beanies, socks and scarves. I will make my mom a scarf this year because that’s the easiest thing for those of us who have just learned the art of crocheting to make. It’s never too late to pick up crocheting, and there are great online sources and videos that have wonderful tutorials for free!
I am inspired to pass down a tradition of homemaking gifts to my children so that they understand this time is about caring for one another and for our earth. Ironically, during the holiday season there is an abundance of waste. Christmas has become highly unsustainable. However, love is sustainable and what better way to spread holiday cheer than with green, homemade, handcrafted gifts.
Happy holidays and many blessings!