Gifts that make an impression come in all shapes and sizes. And, while it is nice to give something fancy or electronic, it is also nice to consider something homemade. For things are easy to buy, but the energy we put into something crafted with our own hands is truly lovely. The impression left makes for good memories, too.
My most memorable time making gifts was when we lived in New Mexico. There was an outbreak of chicken pox at Halloween time. All the children were itching and squirming, but still excited to don a costume for the Halloween Chicken Pox party. Our family, sadly, did not attend. Our own daughter was quite ill with the pox, and did not have the energy. Instead of sending candy in lieu of our attendance, I made itch sticks, filling tube lip balm containers with a concoction of soothing herb infused oils, essential oils, and beeswax. The kids were thrilled to have the power of relief in their hands, and in a container that could be carried in their back pocket. When the candy was gone, the itch sticks were still talked about and requested.
For grownups and kids alike, homemade aromatherapy products are fun to make and receive. Assembling them in a lovely basket can make for an enviable gift.
While it is nice to have a space always set aside and set up to make aromatherapy products, you can easily turn your kitchen into a mini-production line. All you need is a bit of space cleared and well cleaned, some essential tools, and a plan. Know what supplies you need, assemble the essential tools for preparation, and have a plan. The plan entails how you are going to set up for production. It should also include a list of who you are making products for, and what.
As far as gift baskets go, you may choose to make one with a theme. Some examples are The Gardeners Hand and Foot Care Basket, with a nourishing salve for the feet and hands, along with an Epsom salt bath salt blend and lip balm. Another fun one is The Dreamtime Basket, complete with dream catcher, a sleepy time tea, a dream pillow made with herbs chosen for powerful dreams, and an aromatherapy formula for the same. For the tea lover, there is the Tea Time Basket, a combination of different blends of herbal teas specially crafted. And for kids, there is the Monster-Be-Gone kit. It includes an aromatherapy spray of the same name that a child can spray throughout their room and on their pillow before bed to chase away bad things, lip balm, a sleep time formula of essential oils to be applied to the feet, and a dream catcher.
While these are ideas that I have found successful, make up your own. Decide what your teachers or friends need, and create you basket of goodies accordingly.
With each product below, you will find the recipe suggestion, tools needed, container and packaging suggestions, as well as suggestions for essential oil or plant combinations. I will specify how many drops of essential oils total should go into each product, but the number of drops per each oil you use to create the formula is up to you. At the end of the article, I will list resources for purchasing containers, and supplies, and give a few options for packaging.
How to Make a Salve
Salves are easy to make, and can serve many purposes. To make a salve, you will need: a kitchen scale, a double boiler, small glass containers to pour the salve into once complete, something to stir, beeswax, the appropriate carrier oils (olive, almond, jojoba, comfrey, calendula etc.), pure essential oils. I use a stainless steel measuring cup in a saucepan with water for a double boiler when preparing small batches. To stir, I use wooden chopsticks; the kind you get a Whole Foods or the Willy Street Co-op in the sushi section.
Jars and containers for salves come in glass or plastic, and an array of sizes. It is nice to make them in 2 or 4 ounce sizes for the medicine cabinet. But smaller ones are nice, for they are portable. Decide what is most appropriate for your gift.
To preserve salves, I always add 15% jojoba oil to my recipe as a natural preservative. I have mass-produced salves for sale in stores, and believe me, the jojoba oil trick works. Other salves have a short shelf life of anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months before they go rancid, depending on the environment they are kept in, and what essential oils are in them. Salves preserved with jojoba oil will keep indefinitely. This trick works for most all aromatherapy products where a carrier oil is involved.
Other combinations of herb infused oil depend on the effect desired. Comfrey and calendula are soothing and cell regenerating. They nourish the skin. St. Johns Wort infused oil is healing, and used in combination with arnica for aches and pains. Aloe vera oil and avocado oil are also two of my favorites. They are soothing to the skin, and combine well with the aforementioned oils.
When figuring an appropriate dilution of essential oils for each product, a 1% dilution of carrier oil/salve base to essential oil is best for general purposes. That comes out to be about 7 drops of essential oil per ounce of base. Therefore, if you are making 2 ounce products, 14 drops of essential oil total is how many you would use.
To make the salve base, bring the water in the pan to a boil, and turn the heat down to a simmer. Add your carrier oil. Per cup of oil, add 1 ounce of beeswax, weighed on the scale, into the oil. Let this simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beeswax is melted.
While you wait for the melting to occur, put the drops of essential oil into the glass jars that will hold the salve. When the base is finished, turn off the fire and allow to cool while stirring for one minuet. Try not to let it harden. If it does, just turn on a low heat again until fully liquidated. Pour the melted salve into the jars with the essential oils, stir briefly, and then close the lids. Let the salves sit at room temperature until they harden.
Examples of different salves are:
Warming Foot Rub: Oils of cinnamon, clove, ginger, eucalyptus, sweet orange
Cooling Foot Rub: Lavender, mint, eucalyptus, ginger, vetiver
Gardeners Relief: carrot seed oil, rose, rosewood
Muscle Madness Salve: eucalyptus, rosemary, clove, juniper berry
These are as easy as salves. It is the same recipe; one ounce of beeswax to 1 cup of carrier oil. Just 2-3 drops of essential oil per container, for these containers are ¼ oz. each. While I used to make interesting flavors of lip balm, like chai spice, and citrus spice, the spices and citrus oils I have found tend to irritate peoples lips. I recommend sticking with lavender, rose, sandalwood or carrot seed essential oils for the lip balms. They are healing, soothing and relaxing.
Essential Oil Sprays for Hands and Home
We use aromatherapy sprays a lot in our house. They are great for germs, and clearing the air. You will need glass bottles with spray pumps essential oils of your choice, witch hazel and distilled water. The bottles with spray pumps come in glass amber brown or cobalt blue, and can be found in 1, 2 or 4 ounce sizes.
To make the sprays, add 1 part witch hazel to 1 part distilled water. If you are making a 4 oz. size, that is 2 oz. of witch hazel and 2 oz. of water. Per ounce of this base, add 10 drops of essential oil. In a 4 oz. bottle, that is 40 drops total. Shake before each use.
Mystic Medley: vetiver, frankincense, myrrh, orange
Holiday Spice: allspice, clove, cinnamon, ginger, German chamomile, orange
Monster-Be-Gone: lavender, sweet mandarin, rose or rosewood
Anti-infection: lavender, thyme, cinnamon, vetiver, frankincense
Bath salts are a nice way to impress someone, and easy to make. You will need coarse Dead Sea salt, coarse sea salt, and Epsom salts, quart size wide mouth mason jars for mixing ingredients, and essential oils of choice.
When choosing essential oils for the bath, it is best to employ caution. Stick with oils that are non-irritating, such as flowers and trees. Steer clear of using mints, eucalyptus and spices. They could easily irritate someone’s skin. Add small amounts of citrus oils and of rosemary.
Combine equal parts of the Dead Sea salt, sea salt, and Epsom salts in the mason jar. It the jar size is a quart, add a total of 2 teaspoons of pure essential oil to the salts. Mix well, by shaking or stirring, and let it sit to allow the salts to infuse for 2 weeks. After the salts and oils have combined well, fill jars of the size you wish for gift giving.
Balance: lavender, grapefruit
Sensuous Salts: ylang ylang, sandalwood, atlas cedarwood
Herbal Immersion: basil, lavender, rosemary
Rose: lemongrass, rose, rosewood
Bath Oil Formulas
Bath oils are one of my favorite products. I feel they are the most effective medicinally, great for the skin, and balancing to the nervous system. You will need carrier oils of choice; I recommend almond oil, and jojoba oil, essential oils, and 4 oz. glass amber brown or cobalt blue bottles. It is best to use colored bottles to protect the integrity of the product from light. But, in a pinch, I have also used Franks Hot Sauce bottles, or maple syrup bottles, which are clear glass.
To make the bath formulas, fill the 4 ounce bottle with 2 ounces of almond oil, and 2 ounces of jojoba oil. Add a total of 40-50 drops of pure essential oil, and shake well. Here are a few ideas for bath oils.
For Men: frankincense, altas cedarwood, sweet orange
For Women: vetiver, rose, bergamont
Lavender: lavender, lemon, grapefruit
Cleansing: Juniper, lavender, grapefruit
Meditative and Dream Provoking: spikenard, myrrh, vetiver, rose, sweet mandarin
Kids Calming: lavender or rose, with vetiver
Containers for packaging can be found at Whole Foods and The Community Pharmacy. Mason jars are available at the Willy Street Co-op. I prefer to order my containers from a company at wholesale cost and in bulk. You can always split an order with someone, and you may save some money. The company I use is on the web, and is called SKS Bottle and Packaging.
For essential oils, carrier oils and more, Liberty Natural Products is a good place to one stop shop. I do purchase some carrier oils from Liberty, but I prefer Essential Oil University for my essential oils. They test for purity, and have the best available. Jojoba Oil Company is my place for jojoba oil. You can purchase a gallon for $65 with shipping, and it is high quality. Beeswax can be found locally at the farmers market year round. The price varies, but it sells for about $5-$10 a pound.
After making your products, label everything. You can use interesting paper to make labels that attach to bottles with packaging tape. Include on your label what the product is, everything in the product, the number of ounces in the container, and how to use it. And be sure to keep a recipe log to record what you have produced, as well as future ideas. It will come in handy if those who received a gift come back for more.
Planning packaging for the gift is fun. Scour thrift stores and discount stores for interesting baskets, bowls, and boxes. Line them with knitted pot holders or natural grasses, decorate with special stones or dried flowers, and then place your products. Add a homemade card for a finishing touch.
There are many options for gift giving, but I believe an aromatherapy product homemade is an excellent choice. So make an impression, give something you made yourself. And make a little extra for your medicine cabinet.