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Gift ideas: 5 easy, natural gifts for anyone on your list

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If you're looking for some gift ideas that don't include standing in long lines at big-box stores and breaking the budget, these simple, natural gift ideas should help you get some names crossed off your list in a jiffy.

1. Heirloom Seeds

Most gardeners love growing new and different flowers and vegetables in addition to their annual staples. Heirloom plants, or heritage plants, are varieties that are maintained by private gardeners and farmers but are not used or sold in large amounts either to major stores or large-scale agriculture operations. These fruits, vegetables, and flowers often display traits that are unique and interesting, and are sure to capture the heart of any gardener.

Look for heirloom seeds and plants at your local garden shop to find varieties that are likely to do well in your growing zone. Or, order directly from web stores like Baker Creek. They offer a wide variety of vegetables, flowers, and other merchandise along with gift packages.

2. Homemade Spice Blends

Do you have a signature dish that your friends and family would love to get the recipe for? Or maybe you know someone who likes to cook and you need a unique gift idea? Homemade spice blends make great gifts for anyone on your list because they are delicious, additive free, and a lot less expensive than store-bought preparations.

Consider ordering quality, organic herbs from sellers such as Mountain Rose Herbs or Whole Spice so you can be sure that your herbs are fresh and free from pesticides and additives. You can order in large quantities so you can save a few bucks if you're mixing up several batches of blends.

If you don't have your own blend to gift, consider some of these favorites:

  • Italian Seasoning. This mix of familiar Italian flavors is perfect for pizza, pasta, salad and more.

  • Ranch Seasoning. No mystery ingredients or chemicals, just delicious flavor. Mix with greek yogurt for dip or sprinkle directly on salads, meats, vegetables and more.

  • Southwestern Rub. Sweet, spicy, and perfect for your steaks or ribs.

  • Taco Seasoning. No fillers, no preservatives. Just brown ground meat and add a few tablespoons of this mix for killer tacos.

3. Homemade Soaps & Candles

Soaps and candles are always great gifts for the holidays. Taking a few minutes to make your own will make these gifts more special and you'll have control over what goes into them. Here are a few tutorials to help you get started.

  • Holiday Soap-on-a-Rope. I loved these when I was a kid and with a few tools and ingredients you can make custom soaps in any shape.

  • Bath Salts. Calming, relaxing and fragrant additives for the tub.

  • Beginners Guide to Soapmaking. This is a great breakdown of the process so you can start making custom creations.

  • DIY Soy Candle. A few simple ingredients and easy techniques and you've got beautiful, natural candles.

  • Beeswax Candles. The beautiful golden color and natural scent are perfect for anyone sensitive to additives and fragrances.

4. Stocking Stuffers

Before you head to the grocery store and load up on candies and treats loaded with dyes, perfumes, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and other chemicals, the Natural Candy Store offers a huge variety of traditional candies, prepared treats like peppermint bark, vegan options like “milk” chocolate snowballs, and dozens of organic, GMO-free, fair trade, gluten free, and kosher options. If you're on a restricted diet or want to make the world a better place by keeping chemicals out of our farms, foods, and families, The Natural Candy Store makes sure there's still some fun for everyone.

5. An Experience

Gift certificates for restaurants always make great gifts but often feel impersonal or “too easy”. Up the ante a little by including extras that will make it special. Give a dinner gift certificate complete with overnight babysitting for new parents. Give a one-year Netflix subscription with a subscription to the Popcorn of the Month club. Get crazy and give a gift certificate for Skydive Chicago or Chicago Balloon Rides. Don't just give a gift card, give an experience.

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