Image courtesy of Mary Oswald
By guest blogger Robyn Jasko, cofounder of Grow Indie
There’s just something really special about making your own gifts. Instead of being limited by what’s on the shelf, fighting the holiday crowds, and forking over dough for stocking stuffers, you can make your own custom holiday presents using organic ingredients you chose (or grew!) yourself.
Here are two simple DIY projects that are fun and easy to make:
These little bottles of herbal-infused goodness are bursting with flavor, and are perfect for salads, marinades, or any dish that involves vinegar.
- 1 quart vinegar (You can use any type, but I like Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, which is organic, raw, and touted to have all sorts of health benefits.)
- ¼ cup dried herbs or 8 to 12 sprigs fresh herbs
- 1 1-quart mason jar
- Glass bottles, jars, or vials to store your infusions
- Start by sterilizing your mason jar and lid by boiling both in water for 10 minutes.
- Wash your fresh herbs and pat dry (omit this step if using dried herbs). Add your herbs to mason jar, fill jar with vinegar, and set aside in a cool, dark spot for 2 to 4 weeks to steep.
- Once vinegar is infused, strain out spices and sterilize smaller bottles for gift-giving. Add a few extra sprigs of fresh or dried herbs into each bottle, just for nice effect, and pour infused vinegar into smaller jars and seal.
- Add your label or gift tag, and check one more holiday gift off your list!
This vinegar will last 4 to 6 months on the shelf before opening—but once it’s opened, I like to store it in the fridge to keep it fresh.
Homemade Tea Bags
Buying tea in bulk allows you to save money, mix your own custom blends, and make a gift that is truly unique. Have fun mixing two or more types of herbal teas (Yerba Maté Mint, Holy Basil Chai, or Hibiscus Green Tea are some of my favorites, but the combinations are endless).
- Bulk organic tea
- Resealable Tea Bags
- Mason jar to store your tea bags
- Custom label
This one’s pretty easy—just add bulk tea to tea bags and use an iron to heat-seal each bag. Store teabags in mason jar to keep tea fresh, and add a crafty tag.
For both projects above, you can use any combination of herbs, so have fun experimenting. If you dried some spices from this year’s garden, these will be extra special—but if not, you can buy organic herbs, teas, and even cute bottles to put your new concoctions in from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Robyn Jasko, creative services director at Runner’s World magazine at Rodale, is a local-foods activist, community garden starter, and cofounder of Grow Indie, a site promoting sustainable lifestyles, homesteading, eating well, and living local. Her first book, Homesweet Homegrown: How to Grow, Make and Store Food, No Matter Where You Live, was released May 2012.