Make Your Own Potpourri for Luscious Homemade Christmas Gifts

Unique homemade Christmas presents are easy, sensual and fun when you make your own potpourri.


| December 1991/January 1992



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Spices, foraged plants and essential oils mixed into potpourri and wrapped in sachets make unique, homemade Christmas gifts. 


MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas. Close your eyes and imagine for a minute the unforgettable, heartwarming smells of Christmas: pine trees, bayberry candles, cinnamon cookies, clove pomanders and bowls of apples and oranges. This is also the time of year when stores stock many varieties of potpourri — a dried mixture of scented flowers, herbs and spices — but I find the price outrageous! So why not make your own homemade Christmas potpourri to put all around the house or give as a gift? It's easier than you think and a fun activity for everyone to enjoy. (Children can help with almost every step, and you can get a break from those endless cookie-making sessions.) A few walks in the woods, a dip into the stash of preserved flowers and other materials you may have dried over the summer, plus some fruit rinds, spices and oils, and you're on your way to having the fun of creating your own potpourri.

Homemade Potpourri: Start by Foraging

No two homemade potpourris are exactly alike (the word itself means mixture or collection). The one you create will definitely be your own original mix, depending on what you can forage in your area of the country. On the supply list which follows, I've listed the ingredients I use for my Christmas potpourri, but check within the parentheses for alternative choices. But don't stop there: If something else appeals to you, by all means be creative and try it.

All year long, before I start creating my own mix for the holidays, I check out the potpourri for sale in stores and catalogs to see what appeals to me and what new things I might want to try. Lots of commercial potpourris are made entirely of wood chips and one large pine cone and, in my opinion, look faded in color and have little aroma. If you can’t smell the potpourri through the packaging, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it.

I start gathering the ingredients for my holiday potpourri at the end of November. This assures my having plenty on hand all December to scent my home and create gifts. I never limit myself just to what smells good, though. Color and texture are equally important to making potpourri look rich, interesting and eye-catching. Greens, reds, a touch of white and woodsy browns in different hues and textures give lots of visual appeal to your mixture, along with the terrific scent.

A brisk woods walk for some winter foraging is a good starting point for this project. Remember to take several plastic bags, a large basket with a handle and some hand clippers. Warm work gloves, too, are helpful for grabbing hold of frosty branches. Start first with some white cedar or arborvitae — two or three branches of each will do.

Then move on to the hemlock grove for some of its tiny pine cones. If you don't find them on the tree, they may have fallen off already. Look under the tree; if the cones are wet from being on the ground, take them home to dry in a moderate oven until they open.





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