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DIY Christmas Gift Recipe Roundup (27 Herbal Aromatherapy Gift Ideas for the Holidays)

It's no secret by now that I like to give away handmade herbal aromatherapy goodies. Since I know I'm not alone and 'tis the season for giving, I thought I'd share some of my favorite recipes here for you. I know many of you have already decided what you'll be gifting to your own loved ones this season, but I know there are others who are still making choices, so hopefully the timing of this post will be helpful. =) Each recipe is linked to the blog post or the magazine issue where it can be found in its entirety. Enjoy!

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Weedy Facial Serum     |     Cayenne Warming Salve     |     Herbal Paper

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Wintery Beeswax Candles     |     Ginger Sugar Scrub     |     Herbal Bird Feeders

Many of these recipes come from past issues of AromaCulture Magazine, but still many are from recipes and tutorials that can be found for free on our blog. I hope you enjoy making some of these this holiday season!

Have you ever given handmade gifts during the holiday season? Tell me about one of your favorites in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin


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How to Make Yellow Rose Lotion Bars by Jan Berry

One of my favorite home herbalists and authors is Jan Berry. Her work is always beautiful and it is with much excitement that I am sharing one of her recipes with you here today.

Jan Berry is the author of 101 Easy Homemade Products and Simple & Natural Soapmaking. She writes about herbal crafting, DIY body care, and natural soapmaking on her website, thenerdyfarmwife.com. Her books are absolutely lovely; filled with inspiring recipes like this one. The books would make perfect presents for the DIY-er on your gift list! These pretty little lotion bars are positively giftable too. I hope you enjoy making them!

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 oz shea or mango butter

  • 0.75 oz beeswax

  • 0.75 oz sunflower oil, infused with rose petals

  • 15 drops sea buckthorn oil, optional

  • 15 drops rose absolute

  • 5 drops lavender essential oil

    *If you don’t own a scale, use around 2 tablespoons each of shea/mango butter, tightly packed beeswax pastilles, and infused sunflower oil.

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INSTRUCTIONS

Melt the beeswax, butter, and infused sunflower oil together in a double boiler over low heat. Once melted, remove the pan from the heat. Add the sea buckthorn oil, if you’d like added color, along with the essential oils. Stir well and pour into small silicone or candy molds. Allow the bars to cool completely before removing from the mold. Yields 2 lotion bars that weigh around 1.25 oz each, or several smaller bars.

Rub lotion bars over your hands, elbows, knees and feet at night to help nourish and soften dry skin.


This recipe was written by and shared with permission from Jan Berry. Photos provided by Jan. I hope you enjoy making a batch of these pretty lotion bars!

Much love,
Erin


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Herbal Skincare: Helichrysum Rejuvenating Balm

The moment I saw that my Helichrysum seedlings had emerged from their little soil nursery this spring, I couldn't stop the smile that spread across my face. There's just something about actually growing the plants you are using yourself that adds a new layer of depth to your relationship with them. Helichrysum is one of my favorite botanicals for skincare recipes and home remedies. I've long utilized it in its herbal form, as a hydrosol, and as an essential oil and now that I'll have access to the fresh plant, I'm looking forward to making a flower essence once these sweet little plant babies are old enough to spread their sunny faces toward the sky.

Helichrysum is such a versatile herb when it comes to formulas for the skin. It rejuvenates the skin cells and helps to promote quick recovery from wounds, soothes irritation, calms inflammation, smells amazing, and generally supports the healing process. I love it. This balm recipe is one of my must have recipes for my herbal first aid kit. It can be used when dealing with just about any kind of skin issue, though you'll want to avoid using it on deep or puncture wounds until they have scabbed over.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 part beeswax
  • 5 parts carrier oil that has been infused with Helichrysum flowers
  • 1 part carrier oil that has been infused with Calendula flowers
  • essential oils of Helichrysum, Lavender, and Calendula CO2 (optional)

HOW TO MAKE THE BALM

  1. Infuse your carrier oils with the herbs if you don't already have infused oils on hand in your home apothecary. I like to infuse my oils for at least 6 weeks, but you could also use the quick-infusion method if you need your balm to be ready right away.
     
  2. Melt the beeswax in a double boiler over low heat. Once it's melted, stir in the infused oils.
     
  3. Remove the blend from the heat and stir in your essential oils at a 3 to 5 % total dilution (optional).
     
  4. After the blend has cooled a bit, use an immersion blender to 'fluff up' the texture of the balm.
     
  5. Scoop into sterilized jars or tins. Add your labels (include the date you made the product + all of the ingredients you used).
     
  6. Store a jar in your herbal first aid kit so you'll know where it is when you need it. This balm can also be used as a daily moisturizer if you leave the essential oils out or keep them at a 1 to 2 % total dilution. When used after showering or washing your hands, it will soak nicely into the skin without leaving any sort of greasy residue.

Enjoy!
Much love,
Erin

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How to Make Chamomile Body Lotion

*Note: This recipe was first published in the April 2017 issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

Whether you like to use natural, homemade products whenever possible or you just want to have skin as soft as a baby's, I think you're going to love this recipe. When I originally set out to create a lotion that I could use everyday in place of my go-to storebought one, I wanted to create something that was gentle enough for a baby, calming, and suitable for long-term everyday use. I adore this result of that formulating day and I'm thrilled to share this recipe with you now.

I have purposely not used any essential oils in this formula. I found that they were unnecessary, especially if I wanted my formula to be suitable for wee ones, and I tend to leave them out of most everyday products anyway. The hydrosol and the Chamomile flower infusion provide just the right amount of dreamy Chamomile scent without the overpowering aroma that Chamomile essential oils can sometimes present. The result is truly lovely.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ounce of organic Aloe vera juice (the kind fit for internal use, without additives)
  • 1 ounce of German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) hydrosol
  • .75 ounce of organic Sweet Almond oil infused with German Chamomile flowers
  • .75 ounce of organic Sunflower oil
  • .5 ounce of organic Cocoa butter
  • 1/3 ounce of organic, unrefined Shea butter
  • 1/6 ounce of organic beeswax

Note: If you prefer to formulate creams with preservatives, you are welcome to adjust the recipe to include whichever one you wish to use. You will need to follow the manufacturer instructions for the product to do so.

If you prefer not to work with preservatives, you'll want to store this cream in the fridge, access it only with clean hands, and use it up within a week or two (some sources say up to a month).


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt the beeswax in a double boiler over low heat. Once it is melted, add the Cocoa butter.
  2. When both the beeswax and Cocoa butter are melted, remove them from the heat and place the bowl of liquids (Aloe + hydrosol) in the double boiler, with the heat turned off, to warm.
  3. Add the other carrier oils to the beeswax and Cocoa butter and stir until everything is thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Stir in the Shea butter. It will melt as you mix it with the other oils.
  5. Once the oil mix and the 'water' mix have both reached a temperature of 110 degrees F, you are ready to start blending the two together to form your lotion. It's important that both the liquids and the oils be right at 110 degrees, otherwise they may not emulsify correctly.
  6. Using an immersion blender, start blending your carrier oils, which should have started to show a change in their texture by now (this is good). Very slowly, start adding little bits of the liquids into the oils, all the while keeping the immersion blender going. Slowly add more liquids into the oils in small increments until all of the liquids have been added. Continue to blend using the immersion blender for a couple of minutes, until your lotion reaches a consistency that you like.
  7. Pour the mixture into your jars, add labels, and enjoy!

NOTES

  1. Lotions can be tricky and it may take some practice before you perfect your fluffy concoction. If the lotion doesn't come together on your first try, remelt the whole mixture in a double boiler over very low heat until it again reaches 110 degrees F, then try again.
  2. Homemade lotions are best stored in the fridge and made in very small batches.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful, calming lotion! I know we are and I've heard some glowing reports from readers who made this recipe after seeing it in the April issue of our AromaCulture Magazine. =)
Much love,
Erin

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Herbalism 101: Making Herbal Infused Oils (& Using Them In Aromatherapy)

One of my favorite herbs is St. John's Wort - Hypericum perforatum - a sunny, cheery little weed-like wildflower. It's a versatile plant, but can be difficult for me to source fresh. Because it grows so well here in our state, it's made its way onto the noxious weed list so I'm unable to grow it personally and our urban neighborhood is pretty far from areas where I could wildcraft some. I depend on small farms for my fresh plant material and tend to order in the fresh flowering tops once a year - harvested and shipped on ice the same day so they arrive the next morning ready to use. I've just finished processing this year's batch! In honor of this lovely little plant ally, today we're learning how to make herbal infused oils to use in our aromatherapy products.

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After you've sustainably harvested your plant material, you'll want to let it wilt a bit (not in direct sunlight - this can cause protein-rich plants like red clover to rot) so that the moisture in the plant can start evaporating. Too much moisture in your oil can cause it to mold and spoil the whole jar, so taking the time to let your herbs sit first is usually a good idea. It also gives little critters a chance to escape from the plant before you start packing your jars. If you're using dried herb, you can obviously skip this step. Since I'm working with St. John's Wort, which needs to be fresh in order to make a proper infused oil, I let mine sit for just a little while so the moisture from the ice packs it came in could evaporate.

With fresh plant material, you'll want to fill about 1/2 - 2/3 of your jar with the herb. Some herbalists like to give it a bit of a rough chop or snip it with scissors while others prefer to place it into the jar as is. If you're using dried herbs, fill the jar halfway with the herb to give it enough room to expand and still be covered by your menstruum.

Pour the menstruum you've chosen to work with over the herbs until they're completely covered. I like to add an extra inch or so of menstruum to my jars. Use a chopstick or a the handle of a wooden spoon to work any air bubbles in the jar to the surface and top off the jar with more menstruum if needed. I used organic, cold pressed extra virgin Olive oil as my menstruum for this batch. You can use other oils if you'd like - Jojoba and Grapeseed oils are other favorites for infused oils. [Jojoba is a liquid wax and does not spoil, so is sometimes chosen in lieu of other oils with shorter shelf lives.]

If you're working with St. John's Wort, you can choose to include the whole flowering top (usually 4-6" of material), just the top leaves and flowers/buds, or just the buds in your oil. Your choice will influence the final outcome of the product a bit, but no matter which option you choose, your finished oil will be valuable.

Screw your jar's lid on tight and give the mix a good shake to get everything started. With St. John's Wort, you'll want to place your jar in a sunny window, or even outdoors in a place where the jar won't fall and break. [Some herbs are well suited to solar infusions, but others prefer a darker, cooler location - check your favorite herbal books to see what is recommended for the plant you're working with.] Leave the jar to infuse for 4-6 weeks, shaking it each day as you walk by. If you're working with St. John's Wort, you'll find that your oil will gradually turn a rich shade of red! This is supposed to happen. In fact, it is said that the darker and richer the red your oil yields, the higher the quality of it. Label your jar with the herb and menstruum you've chosen, along with the date and the expiration date of your menstruum.

After 4-6 weeks have passed, separate the plant material from the oil. I've found that the best way to do this is to line a potato ricer with a fine muslin cloth and press the oil out of the plant material into a large bowl. You could also line a fine mesh stainless steel strainer with muslin or cheesecloth and use a wooden spoon to work the oil out. Once finished, pour the oil into a fresh, clean jar and re-label it. Include the plant, the menstruum, the date it was infused, the date you strained it, and the expiration date of the menstruum. Once herbal oils have been strained, they are best kept in dark glass bottles in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and heat.

You now have a beautiful batch of herb infused oil to include in your aromatherapy recipes! Infused oils are especially useful in salves, balms, butters and massage oils. I love to include Calendula infused oil in skin nourishing recipes and look forward to using this St. John's Wort infused oil in homemade Trauma Oil and blends for sore muscles. How have you used herb infused oils in your products? If you're just getting started, which oil will you make first?

Much love,
Erin

For educational purposes only. All photos and graphics are copyright Erin Stewart. May not be distributed, copied, or published without express prior written permission from me.

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