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A Garden of Giving

Break free from the shop-and-spend tradition this holiday season with hand-made, heartfelt gifts.

| December/January 2004

  • Illustration by Michael Otteman
  • Illustration by Michael Otteman
  • Illustration by Michael Otteman
  • Illustration by Michael Otteman
  • Illustration by Michael Otteman
  • Illustration by Michael Otteman
  • Illustration by Michael Otteman
  • Illustration by Michael Otteman

In a world that often feels too rushed, too impersonal and too slick, beautiful hand-crafted gifts offer personality and usefulness to everyone on your holiday gift list. That they can also put your herb garden’s bounty within reach is an added benefit. If you’re hungry for inspiration and short on time, we have some ideas for you. Read on.

Since food and body care products always need replenishing, they often top gift lists. If you make your own gift, you’ll eliminate the likelihood that the recipient already has three just like it. It’s especially hard to go wrong with food items: If cousin Jane isn’t a salsa lover —despite the brilliant addition of your lemon basil — she can share it generously at her next office party or when company comes.

Body care gifts such as herbal bath oils and facial steam kits are particularly popular with teen and adult women. Even if the recipient has a favorite commercial brand, she’ll find your sweet-smelling, luxurious herbal offerings a sensual treat.


Most people on your list will enjoy thoughtfully packaged specialty food items or collections. Here are some single gift and packaging ideas to consider:

For those who don’t cook from scratch. Some of your busy loved ones will appreciate having the cooking, preserving and baking done for them. Unique packaging or delivery ideas can make all the difference, such as a gift certificate for a complete home-delivered, herb-flavored chicken dinner (see herbed chicken recipe on Page 41) to be claimed whenever the recipient most needs it. Or consider a basket containing an assortment of your special recipes for salsa, spaghetti sauce, breads, pickles, salad dressings, pie filling, relishes or jams and jellies. Customize each gift. For example, give the family with young children a vat of your delicious basil-drenched spaghetti sauce mix along with a baggie of animal- or alphabet-shaped pasta tied with a ribbon. The health-conscious couple on your list might be more honored with organic spelt pasta accompanying the same pasta sauce. That friend with food allergies might feel quite loved with a gift of egg-free, wheat-free sweet breads flavored with lemon verbena.

For friends who cook. Consider a collection of unusual herbal ingredients including flavored sugars, butters and salts (see Rosemary Salt recipe on Page 40), muslin bags of dried soup and stew mixes, and flavored vinegars they can use in their favorite recipes. A pretty bottle of homemade herbal vinegar (see recipes on Page 40) makes a thoughtful gift for neighbors during the holidays, or a “thank you” to business associates or the hostess of a dinner party. If you intend to make herbal vinegars, remember to stock up on attractive decorative bottles throughout the year.

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