Holiday Gifts From the Garden



Eight low-waste, nature-inspired gifts you can make yourself.

It’s that time of year again when consumerism ramps up. We are making lists, checking them twice, and waste increases through the gift-giving process. For many of us, gift-giving brings us joy; for others, the added financial stress of the holidays can be overwhelming. Gift giving doesn’t have to be expensive or negatively impact our Earth. At the core, it is about spreading joy, kindness, and love, and our gardens are the perfect place to start our gift search. Here are a few of my favorite ideas. 

1. Dried Flower Art

Walk around your garden or neighborhood and collect flowers to press and dry. You can create a simple flower press by placing flowers between two sheets of paper and placing heavy books on top. If you have a little more time and some tools on hand, build a flower press to do the job. Including a handmade flower press with your art piece is the gift that keeps on giving. Once dry (two to three weeks depending on the size and thickness of the flowers), arrange and glue them on a piece of paper, and frame your creation. You have a beautiful, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork. This is a great project for children and grandparents will love it!

2. Dried Homegrown Herbs

dried basil in a glass jar
Give the gift of flavor this holiday season by drying homegrown herbs for friends and family. Don’t forget the extra step of creating your own labels. – Photo by Laura McLean

Collect herbs from your garden to dry as gifts. If you have a food dehydrator, this is a fast and easy gift. An alternative to a dehydrator is simply tying up bundles of herbs and letting them air dry for a few weeks. Once dried use mason or recycled jars to create a gift bag of herbs for the year. Step it up and create custom labels for your herbs. You can design and print free labels with Avery.

3. Nature-Print Tea Towels

With a few simple supplies, you can make custom tea towels as a holiday or housewarming gift. All you need are white tea towels, fabric paint, and a collection of leaves, flowers, and veggies to act as stamps. Look for leaves of different shapes, sizes, and textures. Veggies and fruits like apples, pears, bell peppers, and avocados cut in half, celery hearts, and mushrooms make beautiful prints.

4. Succulent Cutting Arrangement

succulents growing in a clay pot
A collection of succulent cuttings makes the perfect gift. – Photo by Laura McLean

Take a walk around your garden, neighborhood, or local canyon and gather cuttings for free. Upcycle a clay pot, and create a beautiful succulent arrangement. If you have extra time, customize your clay pot by painting it. This is a great project for little hands! Just don’t forget to seal your clay pot after painting. Mod Podge Outdoors is a great option for sealing.

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5. A Bouquet of Houseplant Cuttings

hands holding vase filled with pothos
An antique vase filled with neon pothos cuttings makes a thoughtfully curated gift this holiday season. – Photo by Laura McLean and Justin McChesney-Wachs

Forget bringing fresh-cut flowers as a gift, and bring a bouquet of houseplant cuttings for your host to propagate. Put them in water in an upcycled old jar, or go thrifting for a beautiful antique vase. Include a note to check out our article on propagation tips.

6. Garden Markers

For the gardeners in your life, custom garden markers for their veggies are a perfect way to support their passion, show your creativity, and give a gift filled with love. Collect rocks of different shapes and sizes to paint. Get creative and turn a rock into a cucumber or tomato, or paint a nature-inspired design with the plant name written across. Just like with our clay pots, make sure to seal the rocks to ensure your design lasts. 

7. Homegrown Seed Packets

Seeds are full of hope for the future These tiny gifts are filled with the possibility of a season of flowers or an abundance of fruit and veggies. For gardeners, collecting seeds each season is a way to keep the magic growing season after season, and keep future garden costs down. Share these gifts with other gardeners or inspire someone to start a garden. After collecting your seeds, create custom seed packets. You can make your own packets or buy premade ones and create custom labels. Another option could be a pre-printed packet, and you can write the seed name and directions for sowing.

8. Calendula Salve

container labeled with lavender salve
Give the gift of relaxation with a homemade lavender salve. – Photo by Laura McLean

Create skin care products directly from your garden using medicinal flowers and herbs like calendula or lavender. This gift does require planning ahead as it can take three to four weeks to seep your herbs/flowers in a carrier oil to pull out the healing properties. It is worth the wait as you create a gift grown with love in your garden and then thoughtfully prepared with your own hands. You can find step-by-step directions on making salves infused with calendula and lavender at Homestead and Chill. Lastly, don’t forget to personalize your salve with a beautiful label.

Your creativity is endless with these projects. Get the kids involved or have a date night with friends or your partner, and create thoughtful, low-waste, garden-inspired presents for your family and friends this holiday season.

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Laura McLean
Laura McLean
Laura McLean is a native San Diegan who is the plant expert co-owner of Sweet Seedlings, and has spent over 20 years working for a nonprofit and as a marriage and family therapist. She has transformed her yard into an urban vegetable and pollinator garden, and strives to connect mental health, self-care, and a commitment to our earth with every seed she sows.
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