Holiday Gifts from the Garden

This year, take a close look at the endless gifting possibilities
By Vicki Spencer, Master Gardener

I’ve been downsizing for almost a year and it’s taking much longer than anticipated. Occasionally sorting through boxes that have been packed away for decades is full of surprises — like a scavenger hunt. But the thrill is fading during the holidays when I’d rather be decorating than deciding what to do with memorabilia.

For years our family enjoyed annual outings to the mountains to harvest our Christmas trees, but now we are spread across the country from Hawaii to Colorado and Arkansas. However, I found a substitute for the scent of a freshly cut pine tree: I collect fresh boughs from tree lots to make wreaths, centerpieces and door hangers. Another way I bring holiday fragrances into my home is with potpourris. I make my own with an orange slice, cup of cranberries, sprig of rosemary, a few cinnamon sticks, and a tablespoon of cloves and nutmeg. I place the mixture in a pan on the stove, and the aroma fills the room. (If you try this idea, just watch that the water doesn’t boil away. Otherwise, the delightful fragrance will turn to an unpleasant burnt odor.)

After creating the right mood, I like to make gifts from the garden for friends and family. You may not have had the holidays in mind when you were scrambling to preserve your fall harvest before the first freeze. Maybe you canned jars of tomatoes, soups and jellies. These canned goods make delightful gifts alone or assembled into holiday baskets.

If you have empty canning jars, it’s easy to turn them into festive gifts too. Pick a theme and let your imagination run wild. Fill the jars with candy, cocoa or other dry goods. Place holiday stickers on the sides and tops, wrap with ribbon, and attach a bow. If you have colored cloth, wrap the lid before tying with the ribbon. Place in baskets with candy, nuts, baked goods or cheese, crackers and wine. Add pinecones, pine sprigs and ornaments for a holiday flair.

I was reminded of another gift idea while downsizing. I found a photo of my grandmother with the smock apron she always wore over her dress. It was filled with pockets for garden tools and could be pulled up to make a handy pouch for harvesting vegetables. Roo Apron offers a cotton smock with an interesting twist. It’s designed for putting vegetables or weeds in a pouch like my grandmother did but has a rope that you can untie to release everything out the bottom.

There are many apron designs to sew or buy. Serious gardeners might like Grommet’s easy-to-clean waxed canvas apron. It features padded shoulder straps, loops for tools, and more than a dozen pockets, including a zippered pocket to keep your phone safe and handy. This is something I could use since I’ve dropped my phone countless times while gardening.

Gifts from your garden or gift ideas for gardeners are unlimited. Since I’m learning how to be a minimalist living in a small space, I’m drawn to simple ideas like these for the holidays.

Gardener Vicki Spencer has an eclectic background in conservation, water, natural resources and more.

Enter our December contest for a chance to win a Roo Apron. This cotton smock is great for collecting vegetables or weeds and features a rope tie that you can release to empty your collection from the bottom. Click here to enter.