Creating a cozy hearth for the family
This year has flown by—Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all just around the corner! Where did the time go? Seeing as how we don’t have much time, allow me to offer up some inspiration with some of my favorite herbal crafts for the holidays.
DIY Miniature Wreaths
In 2011, I wrote about my favorite Christmas book Christmas Thyme at Oak Hill Farm by Marge Clark ("My Favorite Christmas Thyme Book and Dried Herb Wreaths: Part 1"). I love making Marge's miniature potpourri and spice wreaths. If you have leftover potpourri or spices, you will want to try your hand at making these simple wreaths. While Marge’s original directions call for a donut pan, I ended up using an individual Jello mold. (I have a lot of those.) If you can find a donut pan you can make a lot of these wreaths at one time, and they will be smaller and more manageable. Make these with your kids—they will make a great holiday gift for teachers.
Click here for DIY instructions for miniature potpourri wreaths.
Click here for DIY instructions for miniature spice wreaths.
My other favorite Christmas craft is curing pomanders with fruit, whole cloves and spices. Some years I get started earlier than others. I have pomanders that are years old, and they still have a scent. You can find the pomander recipe I use from Adelma Simmons in my blog post from 2008 ("Herbal Christmas Decorations: Pomanders"). You don’t have to use oranges. Clementines actually work very well, as do kumquats. They are both small and thin-skinned. You can also visit this link to a Good Housekeeping article about clove-studded clementines.
Click here for DIY instructions for holiday pomanders.
I also enjoy decadent Christmas potpourri and recently found a blend that I really like in the book Malcolm Hillier’s Christmas (see below). I don’t always have every listed potpourri ingredient available to me, but I usually have a a good majority. For me, a potpourri recipe is like a culinary recipe, so make it your own if necessary. In this recipe I mixed the dry spices and the essential oil with a fixative to enhance the scent.
See below for DIY instructions for woody scented Christmas potpourri.
Woody Seed Mix (Dry Method)
• 10 cups mixture of small pine cones, fragrant pine sprigs, star anise, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, dried oak leaves, dried rosehips and love-in-a-mist seedheads
• 2 tablespoons tonka beans (If you can’t find tonka beans, you may use vetiver, ground orris root, crushed corn cob, gum benzoin or frankincense in place of the fixative.)
• 2 tablespoons ground cloves
• 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
• 4 drops cedarwood essential oil or another Christmas scent (I use cinnamon.)
1. Mix all of the ingredients except for the tonka beans, cloves, cinnamon and oil. In a separate container (preferably glass), mix the tonka beans (or other fixative), remaining dry spices and oil.
2. Next, combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture. (You may even want to let the fixative and oil marry for a couple of days to let it mature, then mix it into the dried mixture.)
3. Seal your mixture in a jar and shake every day for 8 weeks to blend the fragrances. I used crushed corn cob for my fixative rather than tanka beans so that the potpourri would be less dusty. I usually use ground orris root as my go-to fixative, but people can often have allergic reactions to it.
I will update this potpourri on the Mother Earth Living Facebook page when I get it in its jar for blending the fragrances. You will have enough time to get it packaged in cellophane bags for Christmas gifts. This potpourri would be a wonderful hostess gift when you attend holiday parties. If you are making it for yourself, just place it in a bowl so it will perfume the air with holiday smells.
I hope you enjoy making all of these simple holiday crafts!
As always, if you have a comment or question about any of my posts, please write to me here or my e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and put in the subject line “Herb Comment or Question.” And be sure to visit my blog Lemon Verbena Lady's Herb Garden. Talk to you soon.