Party season challenges us to find thoughtful, unique hostess gifts without breaking the bank. We spend an hour or so crafting various types of herbal oils; stocking our gift cupboard with pretty little gifts for all of our wonderful hostesses and last minute invitations.

For an environmentally minded gift, keep watch throughout the year for decorative bottles (wine and liquor are often quite good looking) or mason jars that can be re-purposed, and collect ribbons from gifts for decorations. Add a hand-written note with a few suggestions for use (we recycle last year’s cards to make this year’s tags) and voila! An up-cycled, beautiful gift ready for giving.

Herbal oils are extremely easy to make, there are only a few guidelines to consider. Edible gifts should be made with organic, non-sprayed herbs and produce. Olive oil works wonderfully, for both edible and personal use. Consider the flavour profile of the oil and how it will pair with the herbs, it’s not the time to use expensive Extra Virgin Olive Oil as delicate nuances will be lost. Ensure that the oil completely covers the herbs and that there are no air bubbles clinging to leaves (otherwise the oils may start to mold!).

A few combinations that we like:
Chamomile + Rosehip + Almond Oil – add delicate floral and citrus notes to salads, combine with unscented lotion for indulgent skin care
Lemongrass + Thai Basil + Grapeseed Oil – ideal for noodle dishes, sauteed vegetables, add to soups for lively notes
Citrus Peel + Olive Oil – use in salad dressings, pour over vanilla ice cream, bake an olive oil cake
Rosemary + Olive Oil – a classic versatile combination for many dishes
(a vegetable peeler will create long strips of peel that can be twisted and curled)
Lavender + Almond Oil – for aromatherapy massages, use in the bath for a luxurious soak (a few drops of essential oils could be added to boost the scent)

To create the oils, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and set on low. Keep oil temperature low to infuse with the essential oils, gently “poach” the herbs for 15-20 minutes. Let cool, strain into clean jars (the high-temperature cycle in your dishwasher will sterilize jars and bottles). Add decorative amounts of herbs or peel into the jar if you like.

Combine remaining oil with equal amounts sugar or salt (a fine grain sea salt or cane sugar is perfect) for a natural aromatherapy scrub and pamper yourself after all of your hard work. Just be careful in using it in the shower, the tub will be slippery!