Giving gifts at Christmas is an old and wonderful tradition. It’s more personal than the modern process of wading through crowds of people to select a gift from thousands of products in the store aisles. A gift made specifically for someone is special, and reflects the fact that you spent time and talent just for them. Since everyone enjoys nature, here are some gifts you can give that come from outside.
Cracked walnuts: Walnuts are one of the tastiest nutmeats you can find, and also the hardest to crack. So if you have a special mom or grand-mom that’s into cooking candy and cookies go forage the woods for some walnuts and cracked them out a cup or two.
Tree Cookie ornaments: Tree cookies are thin, round wafers of wood cut from the ends of branches or small tree trunks. They are neat because you can see the growth rings and the thickness of the bark. The cookies are best cut thin, around 1/4 of an inch. They can be made using a circular saw, but be sure the branch is clamped down good. A radial arm saw works best, allowing you to make a number of cookie slices in a few minutes. To keep the cookies from cracking as the wood dries out, place them in a microwave so both sides can get air circulation. Cook them on high for two minutes, then take them out to air-dry a day or so. Drill a small hole near the edge so a string can be attached for hanging, and then decorate both sides of the cookie with drawings, Christmas greetings, names, or just stain and leave natural. This is a definite kid thing.
Grapevine Wreath: Wild grapevines are easy to find in our forests and fencerows. Gather long strands of 1/2 or 3/4 inch vines, coil them up into whatever size wreath you want, then interlace the last bit of vine so the whole thing stays together, and there you have it. Leave it plain, or spruce it up with some ribbon and pinecones.
Pine Cone Center Piece: We have several varieties of evergreen trees that produce different sizes and shapes of pinecones. These can be gathered and placed in a small basket for use as a table centerpiece.
With a little imagination you can give Martha Stewart a run for her money, which you’ll be saving by the way. Enjoy Christmas more by adding a shot of nature to it, and be sure and involve the kids.