Your Cart



3 Holiday Gifts You Can Grow Yourself

The path to DIY-holiday gifts is paved with good intentions. Many of us start with the loftiest of ideas, only to abandon ship in the eleventh hour because of a last-minute scramble during the most hectic time of year, or because those skills we want so badly to possess sometimes turn out not to be super viable. The costs of DIY can also spring up on us. Homemade gift supplies these days are often as or more expensive than just buying the item in the first place.

The good news is, there’s still a handmade gift option that can fit just about any budget, be executed by anyone with the will to see it through, and can serve as a solution to force you to get a head start on the season. Namely: growing and drying herbs, and packaging them into a variety of gifts.

{To speed things along, especially if you’re starting late, buy herb seedlings--small, already-sprouted plants--rather than starting your herbs from seed.}

For each grown gift item below, we recommend specific herbs with specific maturation rates. But the drying process is essentially the same for all of them.

Harvest leaves or branches in bunches when they’re ready. Hang upside down in a cool, dry place for at least two weeks. You can also use a dehydrator, if you have one. If time is short, and you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry your herbs in the oven, on a dry sheet pan, on the lowest possible heat for a couple of hours, checking often. You don’t want to over-dry or burn them.

They’re ready when leaves are completely dry, and crumble when pressed between two fingers.

Once your herbs are dried, separate the leaves from the stems. In a bowl, crush them with the back of a wooden spoon, a rolling pin on a flat surface, or use (gently) a mortar and pestle. This should be easy work if your herbs are dry and brittle enough. If leaves tear instead of being pulverized, they’re not dry enough.

1. Grow and gift your own herbal tea

Growing green, oolong, or black tea can be a bit challenging, depending on your climate, and your growing skills. For a simple and super accessible replacement, grow your own herbal tea! Herbal teas are naturally caffeine free, they’re tasty, and they make for beautiful and aromatic gifts. Plus, herbs tend to be hearty and easy to grow, even for beginner, or shall we say, challenged gardeners. Herbs are also manageably grown indoors, if you lack outdoor space.

Herbs that are great for tea + how long it’ll take to grow them


Weeks to Maturation



About 12 weeks to full maturity, from seedling, but leaves can be harvested young, as soon as they appear ready.

Peppermint leaves tend to be the strongest, and hold their flavor best when drying and steeping. Mint is invasive, and should be potted separately, but it tends to be a hearty grower.

Lemon Balm

About 10 weeks to full maturity, but leaves can be harvested early, sometimes as early as 30 days.

Lemon-scented, from the mint family, this plant will grow better outdoors. It gets a bit tall for indoor planting.


About 8 weeks.

The German type of chamomile produces a sweeter tea. Regular chamomile has a tart apple-like flavor. Both are suitable for tea.


About 3-4 weeks

Warm, citrus-like flavor when dried and steeped

Assembling your tea gift

Get creative, and combine different amounts of the various herbs you’ve grown for a custom recipe, or dole out just mint, since that’s the easiest to grow, and makes for a great tea on its own.

There are a few options for actual packaging and delivery:

  • Good old fashioned mason jars are de rigeur, and still stylish as can be. Fill a small jar, tie with a ribbon, perhaps add a handmade label, and your gift is ready to go.
  • You can also opt for fusible teabags. Pack individual tea bags with a couple of teaspoons of your mixture, then press the whole strip shut in one swipe of the iron.
  • Small muslin drawstring bags also work

2. Grow your own eye pillow

Not everyone is the type to lay back in stillness and quiet to relax with a scented eye pillow. For those who are, nothing makes a better gift than a home-grown, home-made eye pillow. This gift requires a small amount of stitching, but even the most novice seamstress can make it happen.

An aromatic eye pillow adds an element of luxury and relaxation to quiet-time by blocking out light, introducing scent, and adding a bit of weight over the eyelids to counteract pressure.

Chamomile, lemon balm, and mint work well. See the chart above for information about each herb. Lavender is also a popular choice for eye pillows, but can be harder to grow. Feel free to supplement your own grown herbs with some store bought lavender, if you like. No shame in that.

How to make the pillow:

  • Mix your herbs together with raw flax seeds--enough to fill the pillowcase about ¾ of the way.
  • Cut the fabric of your choice--preferably 100% cotton, silk or linen--to approximately 5” x 7”, or to dimensions you prefer. Stitch 3 sides, fill with your mixture, then stitch the final end closed.
  • If you feel creating the pillow is absolutely out of your wheelhouse, you can create a listing on a site like, or visit a local tailor with your fabric of choice, and have someone make the cases for you. Then just fill with your own mixture, and close the final seam with fusible tape.

3. Grow your own salad dressing mix

Just like the song, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme are true loves of mine. Add in some oregano, and you’ve got yourself the base for a truly yummalicious salad dressing.

Depending on how long the dressing will be sitting around, you don’t necessarily have to dry your herbs for this gift. If you’ll be suspending the herbs in oil, the plants can be chopped and added fresh.

Herbs that are great for salad dressing + how long it’ll take to grow them


Weeks to Maturation



3 weeks or so

The flat leaf variety is better (more aromatic) than curly leaf for this application.


12 weeks

Sage is very hearty, and wants to grow. Once you start growing, you can have the plant for years.


At least 12 weeks

Pots can be started outdoors in warmer months, and brought inside during the winter.


At least 4 weeks

Harvest just before flowers begin to open


At least 4 weeks

Oregano is a super low-maintenance plant, perfect for beginner gardeners

How to make the salad dressing gift:

  • You can get as creative as you please with dry ingredients like salt, pepper, chili flakes, and other herbs. Mix the dry ingredients into a bottle, add a high quality olive oil, your vinegar of choice, seal, and wrap!
  • You can also mix the dry ingredients into a small mason jar with instructions for the recipient to add a spoonful of olive oil and vinegar when they’re ready to serve.

Don’t stress + do your best

Part of the joy of the holiday season is giving. In this case, it really is the thought that counts. If your herbs aren’t growing fast enough, if they aren’t flavorful enough, don’t be afraid to dash out and buy an already-grown plant. You’ll still keep the budget low, and you’ll still do the drying and packaging on your own. That effort counts for a lot.

Most of all, see if you can flip the script on holiday madness, and try to actually enjoy the process. Holiday season tends to be filled with the stresses of rushing and spending. Planting, handling living things, and assembling, can be a balm for the stressed holiday soul. So even if your gifts come out less than stellar, you can be the calmest relative at your holiday event.

Coming Soon!

We are working hard building the Opus Grows community to bring you new features that will be informative and useful toward helping you grow with confidence!

Check back soon or subscribe to our mailing list to receive the latest updates on the Opus Grows community.