This season, we’ve assembled a collection of holiday gift ideas that are delightfully simple and elegant to give (and to receive). Is time at a premium for you? You can buy these beautiful creations at your natural products store. But if you do find time to create one or more gifts from scratch, you’ll likely discover most of the materials already in your cupboards or in the aisles of your favorite market. We’ve made it easy by including instructions and festive packaging tips, so get into the holiday spirit by making these together with family or friends. And whether you choose to buy gifts or make them, these ten options will come from the heart. Also view this Holiday gift guide as a printable PDF
In this gift guide
Buy it: Little Moon Essentials Make It So bath salts contain bay and vetiver essential oils, plus organic chlorophyll.
Make it: Combine 1 cup Epsom salts, 1⁄2 cup rock or kosher salt, and a few drops peppermint essential oil. Divide in half, adding natural red coloring to one half. Pour into a tall and narrow glass jar, alternating colors for a candy-cane effect. Adapted from EcoBeauty by Lauren Cox with Janice Cox (Ten Speed, 2009).
Eco tip: Use natural, plant-based dye instead of synthetic coloring.
DIY tip: Substitute the peppermint essential oil with any natural essential oil you prefer.
Buy it: Earth Therapeutics Dream Zone Eye Pillow, a soft, flax-filled silk pillow with a valerian or lavender fragrance.
Make it: Stitch two 5×9-inch rectangular pieces of soft cotton or silk fabric together on three sides (with the inside of the fabric facing out); leave one short end open. Turn the pillow good-side out and fill with 1⁄2 cup flaxseed and 1 tablespoon dried lavender, which can be purchased in your store’s bulk section. Stitch the open end closed. Adapted from EcoBeauty by Lauren Cox with Janice Cox (Ten Speed, 2009).
Eco tip: Use old pillowcases, shirts, or silk scarves.
DIY tip: Replace lavender with dried rosemary or jasmine flowers for a unique fragrance.
Giving tip: Give this gift with a relaxing, customized CD of the recipient’s favorite songs. Or pair with a small vial of a soothing essential oil such as lavender, neroli, sweet orange, bergamot, or tangerine. Create a mixture by using 1–3 drops of essential oil for every teaspoon of carrier oil (a combination of vegetable and nut oil, such as apricot kernel, sunflower, or jojoba).
Aztec hot chocolate
Buy it: Dagoba Organic Xocolatl Drinking Chocolate combines dark chocolate, chiles, and cinnamon.
Make it: Combine 1/2 cup organic dark cocoa powder, 3/4 cup superfine sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder, 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder, 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder, and 1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon in a bowl. Mix 2–3 tablespoons into 1 cup hot water or milk. Recipe courtesy of the Kitchen Window cooking school.
Giving tip: Pair with cinnamon sticks or a BPA-free travel mug from Eco Canteen. You can also attach other hot-beverage recipes like chai, white hot chocolate, or cardamom coffee (go to deliciousliving.com and type cups of kindness into the search box).
Buy it: Blue Dog Bakery Peanut Butter and Molasses Biscuits or Castor and Pollux Organix Organic Dog Cookies.
Make it: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together 1 cup dry oats, 2 cups whole-wheat flour, 1 cup all-natural peanut butter, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 egg, beaten. Sprinkle a bit of flour over a flat, clean surface, and roll the mixture out over the flour to about 3/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut in desired shapes; place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes on one side; flip and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and let dry thoroughly. Biscuits are ready after about two hours. Recipe courtesy of dog-paw-print.com.
Eco tip: Reuse a holiday cookie tin to deliver these biscuits.
Natural air freshener
Buy it: Aura Cacia Comforting Spices & Clove Electric Aromatherapy Air Freshener, a fragrant addition to the kitchen or living room.
Make it: Combine 2 drops clove essential oil, 7 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil, 4 drops ginger essential oil, and 10 drops sweet orange essential oil. The aromatic blend can be used in an electric or candle diffuser. Or combine with enough water to fill an 8-ounce bottle and give as an air-freshening spray. Shake prior to each use.
Eco tip: Make this gift extra special by putting it in a vintage glass perfume bottle.
Giving tip: Pair with a small bouquet of baby’s breath, statice, and eucalyptus.
Garam masala mix
Buy it: Frontier Garam Masala, a certified organic and kosher spice mix of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and coriander. Or try Spicy Gourmet’s version, made with certified organic, fair trade, and biodynamic ingredients.
Make it: Combine 1/2 cup coriander seeds, 1/2 cup cumin seeds, 1/;4 cup dried curry leaves, 1/4 cup black peppercorns, 3 whole cloves, 2 black cardamom pods, 2 cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches long), and 2 bay leaves. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool and process into a fine powder in a coffee grinder. Adapted from Everyday Indian by Bal Arneson (Whitecap, 2009).
Eco tip: Reuse sturdy glass spice jars. To strip off original label, submerge the bottle in hot water for 10–15 minutes, then scrub off.
Gluten-free baking mix
Buy it: Pamela’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies gluten-free baking mix requires just two added ingredients and is filled with rich, dark chocolate chunks. Also try Laurel’s Roll ’Em Out Sugar Cookies.
Make it: Combine 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate in a glass jar. Attach the following instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and whisk together 1/2 cup grapeseed oil with 1/2 cup agave nectar and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Stir wet ingredients into the dry mix and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Spoon tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper–lined baking sheets, and bake 7–10 minutes; let cool for 20 minutes. Adapted from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam (Celestial Arts, 2009).
Eco tip: Attach recipe instructions on recycled paper (like Green Field Paper Company’s post-consumer recycled pulp and cotton or Savitri’s leaf-imprinted papers) along with additional gluten-free recipes from Delicious Living’s archive,
Buy it: Ecolution hemp napkins are available in white, green, orange, and blue. Or try certified organic French linen and European hemp napkins from rawganique.com.
Make it: Use old (but still in good condition) tablecloths or scarves to create personalized, eco-friendly napkins. The fabric’s dimensions before folding should be about 18×18 inches.
Eco tip: Revitalize old napkin rings by painting or decorating some that have lost their luster.
DIY tip: Use colorful organic cotton thread to stitch seams and meaningful words or phrases onto the napkins.
Herbed olive oil
Buy it: Boyajian Herbs de Provence Dipping Oil, an aromatic, French-inspired blend of basil, sage, thyme, and rosemary. Also try Benissimo Italiano Dipping Oil with sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, oregano, basil, and de arbol pepper or Annie’s Naturals Dipping Oil, made with basil, roasted garlic, and rosemary oils; aged balsamic vinegar; and chile flakes.
Make it: Add completely dried red peppers, ginger, or rosemary sprigs to extra-virgin olive oil (quantity depends on the desired flavor), refrigerate, and use within a week. For longer-lasting oil, dry the herbs in a dehydrator before adding them to a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil. If you don’t have a dehydrator, hang herbs upside down in a dry, somewhat cool location or spread on a sheet of paper in dry air away from direct sunlight. Recipe provided by oliveoilsource.com.
Giving tip: Attach some of your favorite olive oil–based recipes. You can also give the dipping oil with homemade rustic bread; for a recipe, go to deliciousliving.com and type Sage Fougasse into the search box.
Buy it: All-natural India Tree Vanilla Sugar or Essential Cane tangerine sugar (also available in flavors like green chile, raspberry, and ginger).
Make it: Place 4 tablespoons dried lemon peel and 1 cup sugar in a blender. Blend on high speed until the peel and sugar have been pulverized to a fine dust.
Eco tip: Package the sugar in a recycled jar or sugar bowl.
Giving tip: Give this homemade treat with organic coffee or tea and a hand-thrown mug.