I am one of five women in the United States who hates to shop. Okay, so I exaggerate. When Christmas shopping, I find the pushing and shoving unnecessary and the parking a nightmare. Having to buy all those presents in a few days of shopping after working all day or on a Saturday when everyone and their cousins are doing the same thing takes away from the joy of really appreciating the true meaning of Christmas. I made a plan to do things differently-- giving gifts from the garden.
Garden Gifts for People
This Christmas gift idea came to me when I was out looking for a special present. On every aisle they had gift box ideas. I thought, "why not take a box and personalize it?" I had a friend who loved to read. I bought her a book by her favorite author, put a mug inside with a gourmet hot chocolate tucked in the cup, a little pot of lemon balm, her favorite dehydrated veggies, a bag or two of dried herbs of her choice, and an aromatic candle. I also gave her a quart bag of dehydrated, thinly sliced okra. It's delicious, and you can eat it just like popcorn. All told, it cost me eleven dollars, and I knew she would be thrilled with the thoughtfulness of my choices.
Christmas Gift Ideas from the Garden
Gardening for Christmas gifts is easy. If you have a backyard garden, try making your own spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, pickles, or relishes. All vegetables as well as herbs can be dried. Why not try dehydrated tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, or onions? Following the directions on your dehydrator, chop herbs finely or thinly slice fruits, dry, and put into resealable bags. Keep them in the freezer until time to pack baskets and deliver. Every cook loves fresh herbs. Plant seeds a couple of months ahead of time in very small pots and put them under growing lights. Chives, parsley, rosemary, or different mints are favorites. Including these herbs in your Christmas goody baskets and garden gifts will make you a favorite of any cook. These are beautiful gifts to give and receive. For your favorite gardener, Christmas gift ideas may include a variety of flower or vegetable seeds, bulbs, a favorite gardening tool, gloves, or a unique garden ornament. The last ten years I have been making goody baskets for my siblings and immediate family. For those of you who are familiar with making jellies or canning there are hundreds of recipes that are easy to make, require little time, and are so much more fun than the traditional tie or sweater. Some choices are:
- Zucchini-pineapple preserves
- Jalapeno jelly
- Lavender sugar
- Chocolate coffee
- Spiced herbal tea
Make your own instant gourmet soups. All of these are incredibly easy to make and take very little time and can be made months in advance of December. They have been a huge hit as garden Christmas gifts for people. I bought several 12 by 12 by 8 inch (31x31x20 cm.) baskets at my local hobby store. In each basket, I put a jar of homemade spaghetti sauce, relish or pickles, packages of dried herbs or dried vegetables, a bag of homemade trail mix (including spicy pumpkin seeds), a jar or two of jelly, homemade pint bag of 12-bean soup, and either hot cocoa or chocolate coffee. The exact list changes from year to year depending on how many new Christmas gift ideas or recipes I have found. The wonderful thing is my baskets are ready to be packed in August or September at the end of the gardening season, and I didn't have to beat the rush or the crowds. I hope this has inspired you to try something new this gift-giving season. Gardening for Christmas gifts is far easier than shopping-- no pushing or shoving involved.
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Debbie Slack is a guest writer for Gardening Know How who specializes in urban gardening.