Gift Baskets from the Garden

By Suzanne DeJohn

My "First Aid" gift basket starts with a pup from one of my aloe plants.

Gardeners are fortunate; we tend to surround ourselves with natural beauty. Instead of diving headlong into the gift-buying frenzy, we can take a look around the yard and garden and find materials for creating lovely gifts. People enjoy homemade gifts -- especially those that come with a story.

For example, I've potted up aloe plant "pups" and given them as gifts, explaining that I got the original plant from a friend's Phoenix garden several years ago. Or I might give a dried flower arrangement and tell the stories behind the plants -- these flowers are from a plant my mom gave me 10 years ago; those are from a memorial garden planted in honor of a loved one.

Gift Baskets

One of my favorite gifts to make is a basket filled with objects around a theme. Usually, I'll start with a few basic items, then I'll browse shops to find silly little additions that I know will tickle the fancy of the recipient. I like to think that the fun I have creating the basket will somehow infuse it with love and joy.

Here are some ideas to get you started on gift baskets. This time of year, with the weather so dark and dreary, I like to start each basket with a small plant - one that thrives indoors, of course. If you plan ahead, you can root cuttings or take divisions from your own plants.

First Aid basket. Aloe plant, plus herb-based products such as calendula hand cream, comfrey salve, arnica gel for bruises. Line basket with crisp white linen.

Tea for Two basket. Lemon balm plant, plus a selection of herbal teas, two antique teacups with saucers, tea strainer, gift certificate for two to a tea shop. Line basket with floral or pastel cotton to complement teacups.

Chocolate Lovers basket. Chocolate mint plant, plus a pretty mug, a tin of premium cocoa, chocolate-dipped spoon-shaped cookies, and a scattering of small, foil-covered chocolate treats. Line basket with cozy fleece.

Heavenly Scents basket. Lavender or scented geranium plant, plus sachets, scented oils, candles, scented lotion, bath beads. Line basket with floral chintz fabric.

Kiss the Cook basket. Rosemary or bay plant, plus unique small utensils, such as an attractive garlic press or mini grater. Line basket with linen kitchen towel.

Gardener's basket. Pre-planted windowsill herb garden - small, attractive pots planted with basil, parsley, and dill seeds plus a waterproof tray, set in a long rectangular basket lined with gingham.

Sweet Dreams basket. Chamomile plant, plus soothing tea blends, dream pillow (a small pillow filled with herbs that is placed under your regular pillow), miniature book of poetry, covered mug (to keep tea warm during a nap). Line basket with pastel flannel.

By keeping a stash of fabric remnants, ribbon, small baskets, and little treasures, I always have some basics on hand to get me started. Then I come up with a theme, and let my imagination run wild!

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