I've come up with five easy DIYs that make perfect Christmas gifts for the plant/outdoors-lover in your life or someone wanting a healthier indulgence.
1. // Botanical print notebook //
This is super easy and looks so lovely, all you do is go outside and choose the leaf or leaves you'd like to print, then I painted one side in my choice of acrylic paint and simply pressed onto the cover of a plain notebook. Of course this is so easily customisable and completely up to you which leaves/colours you choose - autumnal oak and horse chestnut leaves would look fab! And you could also print onto paper to make some wall art, or even make your own Christmas cards.
2. // Macrame Plant Hanger //
This one is for the more committed of you out there although it is not as hard as I expected it to be! All you need is string/jute cord/twine in 8 lengths approx a metre long depending on how long you want your plant hanger to hang down from, then macrame is just repeating simple knots to create the shape you want. The tutorials I followed are: a simple and quick plant hanger here and like the two pictured above and below, a more complex twisting pattern hanger here. If you're feeling really crafty, you could even DIY your own plant pot by painting or decoupaging a clay pot in whatever design you choose! I got this gorgeous robin plant pot from a local craft fair however! You can then pop in a festive plant such as a poinsettia or ivy, ivy as a trailing plant looks great hanging in a kitchen, bedroom, living room and are really easy to care for.
3. // 'Raw Gingerbread Dough' Vegan Energy Bites //
Loosely based on this previous blog post, I wanted these to be more like a chocolate truffle to make it a bit more Christmassy. To a food processor, add 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup mixed raw nuts, 1/2 cup dates, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tsp fresh grated ginger), 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves and process for a couple of minutes. Add 2 tbsp of blackstrap molasses (or maple syrup if you want a sweeter, milder taste) and 1 tbsp of melted coconut oil and process for a few minutes until all blended together and a sticky ball of dough forms. Then take approx a teaspoon at a time of mixture and roll between your palms to create a ball. Lay onto greaseproof paper on baking tray and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes, I made around 15. Then melt a 70% + cocoa solids dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, once melted dunk half of the energy ball into the chocolate and place back onto the greaseproof paper and into the fridge to set. To present as a gift you can pop into an old glass jam jar and tie some ribbon around or pop into a bowl lined with tissue paper out for a party. This recipe is not for the faint-hearted as molasses has a very rich almost bitter treacle taste, it is essentially unrefined sugar and unlike refined white sugar has a lot of nutritional value including iron, potassium and calcium contents.
4. // Cinnamon Stick & Orange Slice Garland //
A classic homemade Christmas decoration! Drying your own orange slices is super easy just slice up 1 cm thick and place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray and put in the oven on the lowest setting for 2 hours, or if you're more patient I left a few orange slices on top of the radiator for a few days which worked just as well as uses less energy! Once dried, just thread some twine through a needle and tie on cinnamon sticks and interchange with piercing and threading through an orange slice, then you can hang up in your home and enjoy your homemade festive decor! If you have some orange slices leftover you can forage some pinecones and place in a bowl with some cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and make your own Christmassy potpourri!
5. // Nature-Inspired Present Wrapping //
I actually love wrapping presents and I'm obsessed with a classic brown paper parcel tied up string! I love using natural jute cord and butcher's twine as it's more eco-friendly and biodegradable, I then tie on cinnamon sticks and pick holly from the garden and a couple of sprigs from pine trees and tie it together with a bow. The perfect finish to your gift from the garden!
There are so many ways to create your own nature-inspired gifts, you can create your own Christmas wreath for your front door by foraging holly and pine tress and attaching to a floral wire wreath base or make your own herbal teas or mulled wine using dried herbs, plus of course homemade balms, syrups or candles always make a great and thoughtful gift too!
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.