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DIY Drink Gifts

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By Sheila Julson | Dec 23, 2014

I’ve always seen shopping as a chore, and I had never really been one of those women who sees a day at the mall as a fun outing. As an advocate of buying local, I like walking around the older urban neighborhoods in my city and stopping at the small mom-and-pop shops. But I even tire quickly of that, so I just end up grabbing a cup of java from a coffee shop and calling it a day.

So when Christmas rolls around, my family and I like exchange homemade gifts. Everyone in the family has a unique talent. After sewing and crafting tote bags, trinkets, and ornaments for people, I’ve moved on to foodie gifts, which always go over well.

Yet after a few years of giving homemade goodies – the dry cookie mix in a decorative Mason jar, homemade tea breads, candies, spices that I blended myself – I started running out of ideas even for yummy treats. After a late-night brainstorming session, I thought drinks instead of eats would be the way to go this year.

Since I started experimenting over the fall season with raw tea blends made from bulk herbs available at my local co-op, I decided that everybody’s getting tea this year. I researched more flavors and the health benefits of some of the most popular herbs. Equal parts raw chamomile and lavender can be blended into a calming tea. I’ve noticed that after a cup, I feel any stress melt away. Spearmint just by itself makes a great relaxing tea, but try adding ginger and fennel to give the digestive system a boost. Rose hips, lemongrass and lemon zest (dried) makes a tasty citrus variety, and rose hips have vitamin C to help combat winter colds. With a little research, you can make endless combinations customized to your taste. One tablespoon of tea blend per one cup of hot water makes a hearty cup of tea on a cold winter’s night.

Various raw herbs can be blended into tasty teas.

For chocolate lovers, I made a gourmet hot chocolate mix by simply blending three parts sugar to two parts unsweetened cocoa powder (like the kind you’d use for baking). Then add a dash of cinnamon. My two excellent sources for cocoa are Penzeys Spices and fair trade chocolate experts Omanhene Cocoa Bean Co.

I packaged my teas and hot chocolate mixes in half-pint Mason jars (is there anything those jars aren’t good for?) and prettied them up with fabric, ribbon and stickers. The beverage gifts were a hit with the people we’ve exchanged presents with so far this season, and the cost was very economical.

I’m already brainstorming next year’s foodie gifts. Happy Holidays!

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