I’m not trying to suggest that you’ve left your gift shopping until the last possible minute… but, if you have, you might want to keep reading. 

Making a gift at home can massively reduce your environmental impact across the festive season—particularly if you use up things you already had at home. As a bonus, people will think you’re really thoughtful (and you’ll save money!). What’s not to love? Here are a list of a few homemade gifts which the naturalist in your life is sure to love. You’re welcome.

Flavoured Spirits

This is perhaps the most dubiously-related-to-nature of all the gifts on this list, but who doesn’t love a drink at Christmas? This way, the nature nerd in your life can get absolutely steaming while… uhh… feeling connected to nature? I don’t know. Just enjoy the recipe.

  1. Find a vessel for your alcohol. You could just leave it in the original bottle, but you want it to at least look like you’ve made an effort. Large, watertight jars work well, as do kilner bottles
  2. Choose your fruit: both frozen and fresh work well. Chop up the fruit into pieces small enough to fit through the neck of your chosen vessel. Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are my favourite
  3. Pour your spirit of choice into the vessel until it is almost full
  4. Close the container and leave the fruits to infuse for a couple of days. You will gradually start to see the liquid change colour
  5. This is the fun part: taste the alcohol after two days have passed. If the flavour is strong enough now, move on to step 6. If not, leave the mixture to infuse for a bit longer
  6. Once the flavour is to your liking, strain the liquid in order to remove any sediment. Rinse out your vessel and refill it with the strained alcohol
  7. Decorate your vessel with a cute ribbon bow for a bit of festive flair

Hot Cocoa

For a friend who spends a lot of time outdoors, hot cocoa is the perfect gift to keep them warm through the winter. This recipe takes your average hot chocolate to the next level with a couple of special additions. It’s really easy to prepare as a gift, and even easier for the receiver to make! 

  1. Sterilise a kilner jar (or even just a large jam jar) using boiling water
  2. Fill the jar roughly half-way with cocoa powder
  3. Add three tablespoons of sugar on top of the cocoa
  4. Add a layer of grated chocolate or chocolate chips (there are plenty of vegan chocolate alternatives, too!)
  5. Fill to the brim with mini marshmallows
  6. Attach a label and add a colourful ribbon

Bird Cakes

What better way to show your love than with a big ball of lard? 😉 Even though it’s an unusual gift, the avid twitcher in your life will appreciate something related to their hobby—and there’s a way to make them look festive, too! A little bit of creative shaping and a touch of red ribbon can go a long way.

  1. Gently heat lard or suet in a pan until it just begins to melt
  2. Remove from the heat 
  3. Using one part fat to two parts dry mixture, combine the fat with dry ingredients in a bowl
  4. Currants, sultanas, peanuts, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, sunflowers seeds, and even mealworms all work really well
  5. This part is where you get to exercise your artistic license! You can shape the mixture into spheres, pack it into yogurt pots for hanging, or even into heart shapes (I’m sure the birds will appreciate the sentiment)
  6. If you’re making spheres/hearts: make a loop in a piece of string and secure with a knot. Press the string into the centre of your sphere/heart, then form the shape around it. Once formed, leave the bird cake to dry
  7. If you’re using a yogurt pot: make a small hole in the bottom of a yogurt pot. Thread a piece of string through the hole and secure with a knot. Pack in the filling and leave to dry

Sugar Scrub

Being outdoors all the time can take its toll on your skin, particularly when it’s as windy and cold as it has been recently. Sugar scrubs are really easy to make, and are perfect for rejuvenating your skin over winter. On top of that, these scrubs are ideal for cleaning your hands after a day in the field (have you ever met a conservationist without dirt under their nails?!). 

  1. Sterilise a kilner/jam jar with boiling water
  2. Combine 3 parts sugar (granulated works well) with one part oil (coconut is great for moisturising, but almond oil works well too) in a bowl
  3. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil—peppermint is the most festive, but I love lavender 
  4. Stir to combine
  5. Fill the jar with the sugar scrub
  6. Decorate with a label and ribbon—et voila!

Bath Bombs

I made these for the first time the other day, and I was majorly surprised at how easy they are to make. They make a great gift for nature-lovers and… heathens alike. Hint: make sure you wear rubber gloves, unless you fancy staining your hands and getting funny looks in the supermarket for the next week.

  1. Line a muffin tray with cling film, making sure it sticks to the inside of each mould (this makes it easier to get the bath bombs out at the end!)
  2. Mix together 300g of citric acid and 100g of bicarbonate of soda in a bowl
  3. If you like colourful bath bombs, add a couple of drops of food-safe dye and mix until you get the desired colour
  4. Add 5-10 drops of your favourite essential oil, depending on how strong you want the scent to be
  5. Add a VERY SMALL amount of water. The best way I found to do this was to just wet my gloves, combine the mixture with my hands, and then repeat if necessary. You want the mixture to hold together loosely when squeezed
  6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray moulds, making sure to pack it down as tightly as possible
  7. Leave in a warm, dry place for 20-30 minutes
  8. The bath bombs should pop out of the moulds fairly easily. Place them onto a tray to continue drying overnight

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