MADE WITH LOVE
Whether you are trying to save money, or wish to reconnect with the spirit of the holiday season, a homemade gift is the gift of your time – a precious commodity these days. No matter what you make, bake, craft or build, take a few minutes more of that precious time to wrap your present carefully and creatively – and it doesn’t take $$$ to do so. For garden-based gifts, I love to start with some good old-fashioned brown craft paper, tie with garden twine and sealing wax, and finish with a garnish from the winter garden such as teasel stems, acorn clusters, bittersweet berries or sprigs of evergreen.
Here are a few ideas for honoring the gardeners in your life with something creative. If you’ve got a special idea of your own or a link to a favorite project, please add it to the comments section where other readers can benefit from it!
VINTAGE TIN STRING HOLDER
String gets tangled and gardeners get frustrated, but this holder made out of a vintage tin will not only make it convenient, but extremely attractive. You can also use a plain or blue pint-size glass canning jar with lid.
- Round or square tin with lid 4-5 inches high and 3-4 inches wide (or use a pint canning jar with lid and ring)
- Plastic lid (from a throw-away container like sour cream)
- Ball of garden twine
- 1/4 inch drill bit and drill
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Drill a hole in the middle of the metal tin lid.
- Cut a 2×2 inch square out of the middle of the plastic lid. Cut a 1/2 inch X right in the middle of the piece.
- Turn the tin lid over and line up the X on the plastic square with the hole in the lid. Using the glue gun, affix the plastic square along its edges to the metal lid. This will provide a tight hold on the twine so it doesn’t fall right back into the tin.
- Carefully fish out the pulling end of the twine from the middle of the ball, put the ball in the tin and push the end through the hole in the lid.
- Put the lid on the tin and you’re done. A nice accompaniment to this present is a good pair of scissors – and if you use a canning jar, you can punch a large hole near the side of the lid to hold a small pair.
PLANT MARKER SET
Gardeners never have enough! Present this gift in a little lidded box or cylindrical tin and they’ll always have some conveniently at hand.
- A set of used aluminum mini-blinds (thrift store!)
- A pair of good scissors
- Paper towels
- Household cleaner or white vinegar
- Some pretty wrapping twine or raffia
- Small rectangular box or cylindrical tin
- A fine point Sharpie marker (for gifting)
- Small pair of scissors (for gifting)
- Cut 15 pieces of blind in each size – 6, 8 and 10 inches.
- Wipe each piece lightly with a cleaner-dampened paper towel.
- Cut one end of each piece into a point.
- Tie the markers together in three bundles and arrange in a lidded box or tin with the Sharpie and a small pair of scissors.
It’s a nice touch to include a pair of scissors for customizing the markers, but not necessary. Also, consider giving one black and one colored marker – but make sure they are fine point.
BULB FORCING KIT
Show a budding gardener just how easy it is to force bulbs indoors for those bleak months of winter ahead. An easily assembled ‘kit’ with printed directions will make it foolproof. Hurry on this one – bulbs are on clearance racks NOW!
- 3-10 spring bulbs depending on the container you choose. Tulips and paperwhites are some of the best, but a single hyacinth bulb is also wonderful.
- An interesting container without any drainage holes or cracks. Preferably glass or glazed ceramic. Options to think about for taller bulbs – glass canning jar, small fish bowl or straight-sided vase. Hyacinths don’t need as much support and can use a shallower bowl or glass.
- Decorative gravel, pea gravel or glass beads
- Brown craft paper
- Ribbon, twine or raffia
- One sheet of good quality paper
- Either a computer printer or a good old fashioned pen.
- Card envelope
- Box that can comfortably contain the above (for presentation and wrapping).
- Tissue paper
- Packing material
- Pre-assemble your kit so you know how many bulbs and how much gravel to include.
- Fill your container with at least 2-3 inches of gravel.
- Set the bulbs close together on top of the gravel in one layer.
- Disassemble kit.
- Make large circles of craft paper for gravel and bulb bundles.
- Put the bulbs in the middle of one of the circles, gather up edges and tie with ribbon/raffia. Write the name of the bulbs on the bundle.
- Repeat with gravel.
- Arrange in box with container, packing material and tissue paper.
- Print out or write out the following directions on paper to fit your envelope, and include in the package:
A Little Bit of Spring
Bulb Forcing Kit
Keep your bulbs in the fridge for at least six weeks, and then until you are ready to start them. Empty three-quarters of the gravel into your container. Place the bulbs side-by-side into the gravel, point upward. Pour the rest of the gravel over the bulbs so they are about a quarter covered and anchored firmly. Fill the container with water coming just up to the base of the bulb and maintain the water at this level.
There is no need to keep the bulbs dark – they will start growing immediately, and bloom within 3-4 weeks. Set in a prominent position so your family can watch the miracle of a blossoming bulb.
If you wish to keep the bulbs, let the foliage die back naturally and in the spring, put them into good soil in the garden, but don’t expect further bloom for a couple of years.