'There is nothing more comfortable to the spirits than good and swete odours', wrote John Ker in 1552.
Many approach Christmas with mixed emotions, especially when it comes to gift giving but fragrant plants and aromatic essential oils can give your Christmas cheer a little extra something.
This year, fill this special celebration with easy-to-make gifts that are unique and creative and recapture that nostalgia.
Scraps of coloured or decorated paper, such as leftover Christmas wrapping, can be turned into fragrant bookmarks. This is an ideal project for children to be able to give gifts to their friends.
Cut paper to length required, then add a drop of a favourite essential oil on each one, and seal in individual polythene bags. Leave overnight so that the aroma will infuse into the paper.
Essential oils include cinnamon or rose for sweet smells and mandarin for a gentle citrus fragrance.
Most people love to be pampered, so for that special someone give a soothing and luxurious after-bath body lotion. In an attractive airtight glass bottle add six tablespoons of rose water, five tablespoons of glycerine, four tablespoons of jojoba oil and four to eight drops of rose essential oil.
Shake vigorously to ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Both the rose water and essential oil of rose can be replaced with lavender. To make lavender water, steep two teaspoons of dried lavender flowers in a ceramic bowl containing one cup of boiling water. Cover, leave until cold, then strain through fine muslin cloth.
Spice ropes make a fragrant and unusual gift. Plait lengths of thick wool or rough, natural fibre rope together, leaving one end frayed and securing the other end to a wooden ring for hanging. Fill little bags of coloured material with a spicy mix and tie at intervals along the rope.
Decorate all the space remaining with tiny bunches of dried flowers, cinnamon sticks, mace blades, whole star anise or whole nutmegs.
For the spicy bag mixture, combine in a ceramic bowl two tablespoons each of ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg and orrisroot powder. Use your hands to ensure a good mix.
Add four drops each of clove essential oil and orange essential oil, a drop at a time, mixing well and testing the scent after each addition. Place in a well-sealed plastic bag and leave in a dry, dark spot for two weeks to mature, and give the mix a good shake every other day.
The scent of the rope should remain strong for about a year. Revive the scent, by adding two drops of either the clove oil or orange oil, or one drop of each, to the mixture in the bags.
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