I’ve been working on this post for a long time, and am so excited to be able to share this wintery forest venture with you guys today! I wish I could have gotten it up sooner for those of you interested in DIY Christmas gifts, but hopefully this is helpful for some last-minute gift makers and for folks planning ahead for next year’s holiday season. Back in the fall Jeremy and I went into the woods to our mushroom-foraging spot, but I wasn’t looking for any fungi. Instead I went to get some foraged bright green douglas fir tips for tea-making. Yes, they along with spruce and hemlock, can make for a fine herbal tea. The flavor tastes pretty much how the tree smells, so as you can imagine it’s incredibly bright and refreshing.
Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

 

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

So, what are fir tips? Well, they’re called ‘tips’ for a reason, and that’s because they’re the softer, brighter green, newer growth that’s right at the tip of the branch. You can see the color change pretty clearly in the photos I have here of the branches close-up, you want to snip off the really bright green part and leave the darker green older growth in place. Ideally this is done in spring when then whole new growth is soft and pliable, even the stem.

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

They can still be foraged in the fall and winter, the stem will just have gotten a bit woody, so you won’t want to use the stem in the tea. Instead, once you get home from foraging you’ll need to spread out your clippings in an even layer on a wire rack with a large sheet of wax or parchment paper underneath it. Let it dry out for 3 days at room temperature, then you can pull the needles off the woody stem more easily, saving the needles and discardng the stems. If any needles have fallen underneath the wire rack you can just bend the center of the wax paper slightly and then pour them into whatever container you’re using to keep the needles.

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Since needles are super tiny, a lot would need to be foraged to make a good amount of tea to give someone. So, instead of pillaging dozens of trees of their tips, I recommend blending the fir tips with other tasty herbal tea components. My favorite pairing was with dried lemon verbena leaves, but dried chrysanthemum, peppermint, oatstraw, damiana, white tea, and spearmint all pair with it really well for loose-leaf tea blending. The best thing to package them in is little brown paper bags, that way they can breathe a little bit since they’re fresh. You’ll also want to use the tea within 1 month for maximum flavor, once the needles go completely dry the flavor gets less bright and more woody. I tied my paper bags with woolen yarn and stuck some evergreen clippings in for garnish.

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

When it came to wrapping non-tea gifts this year, I wanted to use something that could be repurposed and would also be fun and useful. So I used a used cheesecloth wrapped with woolen yarn, and I’ve been knitting a lot lately, so I also used some scarves I’d knitted as a wrapping paper too, which is fun since the wrapping is a gift in itself. There’s a ton of ways to jazz up your wrapping situation, and I have a little guide outlined below. If you have any wrapping suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments for ideas for next year, too!

{ Gifts as Wrapping } Things like linen kitchen towels or knitted sweaters or scarves can make beautiful gifts, and be used as wrapping, too. If you happen to have a knack for knitting, you can even make small lap blankets that are great for the winter and the perfect shape for wrapping boxes.{ Use Greenery } You don’t have to have a green thumb or spend a lot of money at the florist for this. Poke around your yard and see what’s out there, anything green will add an attractive touch to your gift. If you don’t have a yard, just walk around your neighborhood and see what you find. A clipping from a little evergreen shrub or even an interesting-shaped dead twig can add a nice touch to your wrapping situation. You can tie them in the knot, or tuck them under any tied string or yarn around the package. A poinsettia leaf pressed flat against the top of a box with string tied over it makes for a beautiful and festive pop of color, just be careful, though, as they are poisonous to children and animals.

Tying the Knot } Good ol’ gardening twine adds a nice and rustic touch to the wrapping situation.  And then woolen yarn has tons of possibilities; there’s silk and wool blends that have a great sheen to them and are wonderfully fuzzy, there’s thick fluffy yarns, and thin stringy ones, and they’re all in all the colors you could imagine. You can also use a string of fake pearls to tie up the gift if you want it to look extra-fancy (little girls love this, since they can then use it as a toy necklace). And don’t be afraid to wrap that string around the box a bunch of times, having extra string adds more texture and you can even get creative with the pattern and wind it all around the box, giving it a star-like quality. Something like a shimmery gold thread wrapped over a cream package would look especially nice with that pattern.

Color Scheme } You can make a really big statement wrapping all your gifts in the same bright color, but with varying shades of the same one. Picture a bunch of blue boxes and gift bags all under a tree, but with varying dark and light shades of blue. You can also go the neutral route with nice creams and whites, which pair really well with an evergreen clipping garnish. And don’t underestimate the power of kraft paper. This brown paper has a fun old world vibe to it (‘brown paper packages tied up with strings’ = YAAAAAAAY Christmas!!) and makes for a great canvas for brighter garnishes like red winter berries.

{Use Your Skills } If you have a craft or artistic ability, use it in your wrapping. If you paint, paint your own design onto the kraft paper you wrap the gifts with. If you whittle, whittle a little spoon or butter knife and tie it onto the package. If you can sew, make a fabric wrapping ‘paper’ that can be folded around a box like traditional wrapping paper but adheres shut with buttons rather than tape, so that way your recipient can re-use it when they give a gift down the line. If you bake, make some cinnamon dough ornaments and tie them onto the outside of the package. Just have a little think about what you do best that can add a personal touch to your holiday gifts.

 

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Herbal Tea

Course Drinks
Author Eva Kosmas Flores

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces fresh fir tip needles see above paragraphs for foraging and preparation instruction
  • 4 ounces dried lemon verbena leaves
  • 2 ounces dried chrysanthemum blossoms
  • 1 ounce dried peppermint leaves

Instructions

  1. Mix together until evenly combined. Store in a paper bag, best if used within 1 month.

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

Foraged Fir Tip Tea DIY Gift by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

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