Holiday season is officially upon us! If you are anything like me, then you’re already thinking ahead and wondering what to give to your loved ones this year.
Personally, most of my family and friends have acquired many of the things that they truly “need” over the years. So I steer towards giving thoughtful gifts that have heart and meaning instead.
A few years ago, after being completely fed up with all of the big box store products made in sweat shops in China, I made a conscious decision to focus on giving gifts that are sourced as locally as possible.
I decided that the gifts that I give don’t have to be big or expensive, but should truly reflect my values while offering something thoughtful and useful to my loved ones.
Since none of my relatives live in the Pacific Northwest, I felt called to share with them some of the essence of this beautiful place that I call home. Around that same time, I also became very inspired to create as many things as possible from the natural world that surrounds me.
I discovered that creating things from wild and cultivated plants that I harvested with my own two hands brought a calming focus to my being and unleashed an incredible amount of motivation from within me. I found myself practically obsessed with making cool nature-based gifts for my friends and family. As it turns out, when it comes to creating things for the people that I love, I’ve got a ton of energy and lots of will to make it happen!
An added bonus to my newly discovered obsession with creating gifts from nature was that they also made for really fun projects to make with my students, so that they too could share their love of the natural world with their families through the gifts that they give them.
Some examples of handmade wildcrafted gifts that I have given friends and family in the past have already been featured on our Wild Wednesdays blog, such as Blue Elderberry Syrup, Cottonwood Salve, and Rose Hip Honey.
Today I am going to share wth you a simple, thoughtful, and inexpensive nature-inspired gift that is fun to make with children: Forest Bath Salts. These bath salts offer a way to experience the healing essences of the forest at home. Connecting to nature on this sensory level is truly relaxing and uplifting to one's spirits. Just a few simple ingredients is all that you need. . .
Forest Bath Salts
-1 cup epsom salts
-1 cup sea salts of choice (I like to mix in a little bit of local San Juan Island Sea Salt)
-1/2 cup baking soda
-A few handfuls of locally foraged evergreen needles and fronds, and/or forest and garden herbs. Right now I am harvesting Western Red Cedar fronds (antiviral, anti-fungal, promotes immune function), Douglas Fir needles (eases sore muscles and reduces inflammation), and Yarrow (eases skin irritations and helps to break fevers) since those are easily available to me. In the past I have also used Common Plantain (eases skin irritations), Calendula (reduces pain and swelling, treats wounds), Rosemary (relieves cramps and pains, increases circulation), Lavender (promotes relaxation) and Rose petals (soothes irritated skin) from my garden. When I lived in Colorado, I added Juniper Berries (anti-bacterial, reduces inflammation of joints and skin) to the mix. Lots of possibilities all around! Feel free to get creative here.
-Essential Oils. I like to use lavender essential oil because it's calming and it reduces tension. Some other essential oils that work well are: rose, geranium, sandalwood, jasmine, chamomile, and ylang-ylang. I've also come across Douglas Fir essential oil, but have yet to purchase it. AVOID using spicy essential oils that may irritate skin, such as oregano, clove, thyme and cinnamon. Some people are also sensitive to citrus essential oils, so use them with caution. My husband Patrick once put way too much lemongrass essential oil in his bath... let's just say that he will never make that painful mistake again!!
Step 1: Harvest evergreen fronds and needles, and/or forest and garden herbs. Allow them to dry fully (tie clippings together and hang them to dry, or use a dehydrator or oven set to a very low temperature with the door slightly ajar)
Step 2: In a large bowl, mix epsom salts, sea salts, and baking soda until well combined.
Step 3: Separate dried plant material from any hard stems. Crumble the dried plants into the salt mixture.
Step 4: Add a few drops of essential oils (a little goes a long way!).
Step 5: Stir until well combined. Store in a clean glass jar. Add a fancy label and bow for a nice-looking gift!
Directions for use: Add a few handfuls of Forest Bath Salts to a warm bath and enjoy! To avoid having to clean up a messy bath full of plant matter afterwards, place bath salts in a muslin bag and use as a "tea bag" in your bath.
Hope you try this recipe at home!
And now, we'd love to hear from you: what are YOUR favorite nature-inspired gifts?? Please comment below!