Homemade gifts are always a special treasure. Homegrown gifts can be even more unique. Dried herbs can be used to create heartfelt and soothing presents for your loved ones.
Lavender is most often acknowledged for its pleasant scent and calming effect. It has been identified as a useful herb for decreasing anxiety and improving sleep. Lavender can be used in a variety of ways to promote relaxation throughout the day. Sugar bath scrubs exfoliate the skin to remove the dead cells and reveal smoother and brighter skin. This lovely lavender sugar bath scrub is easy to make and is free from the harsh chemicals of some other washes.
To make this bath scrub, combine ½ cup liquid coconut oil, 2 cups of white or brown sugar, 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil and a tablespoon of dried lavender buds and leaves. Under warm water, apply the lavender sugar scrub to your skin. Rub the sugar scrub gently on your skin and then rinse. The dead cells will wash away with the scrub exposing softer skin.
If you’re preparing this as a gift you can fill a decorative jar with the sugar scrub. Add a label and tie a few dried lavender sprigs to the outside. This gift from the garden is sure to delight and relax your friends and family.
Another unique gift from the garden is bath tub tea. There are a wide range of plant combinations that can be used for this project depending on the goal. For relaxation gather lavender, chamomile and rose petals. Peppermint and eucalyptus are commonly chosen to stimulate the brain. Combine equal parts of each herb you choose into a bowl. Fill a muslin bag with the blend and tie it closed to create the herbal tea bag.
To use the herbal tea bag for a bath, boil six to eight cups of water on the stove. Once the water has boiled, remove it from the heat and steep the herbal tea bag for 20 minutes. Prepare the bath water as usual and pour the water from the steeped tea bag into the bathtub. Drop the tea bag into the tub as well and enjoy a refreshing aromatic bath.
Herbal pillows are a quick homemade gift idea that are designed to promote relaxation and sleep. Begin by making a 6-inch square pillow using thin cotton fabric. Sew three edges of the pillow closed. Sew all but two inches of the fourth edge closed and turn the pillow right-side out. Fill the pillow with dried herbs of your choice. Lavender, chamomile, rose petals, sage and cedar can all have therapeutic benefits during rest. Hand-sew the rest of the fourth edge closed and the pillow is ready for use.
If you haven’t gathered and saved herbs from the garden to dry over winter you can purchase dried herbs for use in these gifts. It’s also never too early to start planning your next garden. Don’t forget to add some herbs to your planting plan so you will be prepared to make your own homegrown gifts next year. You can avoid the holiday rush and give gifts that will be meaningful for years to come.
Cynthia Domenghini is an instructor and coordinator for K-State’s horticultural therapy online certificate program.