The holidays are a time of gratitude and gift giving. What could be better than to share the gift of nature’s resources in a meaningful and practical way with gifts that include herbs – for example, a relaxing herb blend for the bath, and tasty treasures for the kitchen? The holidays can also be a tense time for many, so providing a delicious tea blend for stress reduction can be enjoyed before, during, and after the holidays. Save some of these recipes for yourself to maintain your own sense of calm celebration and joy. Package the products in attractive containers and create labels with instructions for use for your gift recipients.

The Herbal Bath: A Gift for the Mind and Body

One of the best and most pleasant of stress reduction methods is the use of herbal teas in the bath. Not only is it relaxing, it is also surprisingly therapeutic. Herbal baths are the premier treatment for children who get wired by all the holiday excitement.  The famous French herbalist Maurice Messegue (circa 1940s) delivered all his herbal therapies through hand and foot baths, with good success.  If you don’t have a bath tub, you can still enjoy relaxing benefits by employing the all-but-forgotten foot bath. All you need is a basin large enough for your feet, such as a dish washing tub. The same tea formula can be utilized for the foot bath, and the same instructions apply.

This blend also makes a delicious herbal tea with relaxing benefits. Use one heaping teaspoon of the herbal blend per cup of hot water; steep for 5-10 minutes and enjoy as you sit in the tub for extra relaxation, or at the end of a busy day of holiday activities.

Herbal Bath Formula

The following is a list of herbal celebrities when it comes to relaxing nervine herbs. These are well known tasty herbs that can also be enjoyed daily.

Ingredients
Use equal parts (at least ½ cup) of each herb for the blend.

  • German Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Linden
  • Catnip
  • Hawthorn leaf or flower

Mix the herbs well in a large bowl or big paper bag. Package in jars or colorful cellophane bags and label with instructions.

Directions

  1. Boil two quarts of water, remove from stove.
  2. Add one cup of dried herbs, cover the pot and let steep until it is a comfortable temperature.
  3. Strain into the tub or the foot bath basin.
  4. Soak 10-20 minutes.

Enhance your experience with soothing music and dim light. The relaxation benefits will add to your holiday spirit!

Gifts from the Kitchen

Homemade Vanilla Extract

The incredible vanilla bean makes Vanilla planifolia the only edible orchid. You will astound your gift recipient with a homemade version of something that is often seen as a common flavoring, but this double strength preparation is sure to surprise and please anyone who loves to bake.  Expand the recipe as needed.

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh vanilla beans
  • 1 ½ oz brandy
  • ½ oz vegetable glycerin
  • 2 oz decorative bottle with sturdy cap

Directions

  1. Mix the brandy and glycerin together and set aside.
  2. Slice the vanilla beans in half, both lengthwise and down the center to expose the vanilla seeds to the menstruum (the extracting liquid).
  3. Place the filleted beans inside the bottle, add the liquid, cover and shake well.
  4. Top off any extra space with more brandy.  (The beans never need to be removed from the bottle; shake well before each use to get some of the tiny seeds into the recipe.)

Customized All Purpose Spice Blend

Who can’t use zestier flavor in the kitchen?  Adding your own home grown culinary herbs to this recipe makes it personal and unique.  All the herbs should be dried, but feel free to switch up the herb choices or add more or less of a specific ingredient. Blend well and crush a bit to meld the flavors before packaging in spice jars.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons basil
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried lemon peel zest
  • 1 tablespoon maca powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Wishing you and yours calm days, tasty recipes, and joy throughout the holiday season!

Writer Mindy Green is a founding and professional member of the American Herbalists Guild and an advisory board member to the American Botanical Council, publisher of Herbal Gram Magazine. Ms. Green served on the faculty of the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies (1995-2003). The California School of Herbal Studies is among Mindy’s business ventures as co-owner and a faculty member (1985-1995). She is a nationally certified Registered Aromatherapist and has served on the education committees of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists and the Aromatherapy Registration Council. She now runs her own consulting company, Green Scentsations, LLC.

 A prolific writer and lecturer, Ms. Green has authored over 60 published articles on herbs, aromatherapy, skin care, holistic health and integrative care.  She is co-author of Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art; author of Calendula and Natural Perfumes, and has contributed to numerous books on herbs and healing.  As a botanical-therapies expert, she has been interviewed more than 400 times by leading magazines and newspapers.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.