One year for Christmas, my mom gave me only black clothes. That’s all you wear anyway, she said. Fair enough. I think I was sixteen. It’s still, years later, mostly all I wear. But if you need some other last minute gift ideas beyond midnight sweaters for your witchy nephew, your babysitter who makes her own makeup, or your friend who reads tarot cards at the end of a night at the bar, I got you.
Twice in my life, including by my son, I have been gifted a straight-up honeycomb. This is not only unexpected, simple, and lovely, it’s useful. Honey is expensive, and local honey tells a story about place, as well as supports farmers in your community. I can never keep enough honey in the pantry. I use it for tea, pancakes—and medicine.
The Little Match-girl: Source
Everybody thinks about candles for gifts but what about something with which to light ‘em up? I know I never have lighters around, and nothing sounds better than the crisp crack of a match being struck. Long, nice wooden matches with a sweet card would make a simple, inexpensive gift.
They are so many writers doing newsletters now (hi hello). You can find one you think your recipient would love, and your gift subscription can help support the artist too. Like, uh, this one:
Gift cards get a bad reputation. But this can be a thoughtful present, especially if your gift recipient has limited means or is a younger person without access to transportation or without a supportive family. Your giftee can buy the books, clothes, or food they want or need without judgement.
Aloe is useful to keep around for treating burns; jade plants are hardy, as are herbs like rosemary, sorrel, and chives. Alternatively, seeds are an optimistic present to open up in late December. My dad, for example, is very fond of heirloom varieties like Cherokee purple tomato and black-seeded simpson lettuce.
Not a Knife
Let yr girl buy her own blade! Some people, including me, think that a knife is a bad luck present. (It severs the relationship.) Although I think you should probably have a knife for practical and badass reasons, it’s personal, so you want to pick it out yourself.
Tea is tricky. It’s very subjective to people’s tastes. An alternative to a straight tea gift might be accessories, like a tea ball or strainer, which I never seem to have around when I need them, or a kettle. But I think one place you can’t go wrong when it comes to tea is stinging nettles.
Stinging nettles: Source
Stinging Nettle Tea
You can buy packages of nettle tea at most stores now—big brands make it. You can also buy dried stinging nettles at health food stores. And you can gather wild nettles yourself (they grow in patches near water) but be careful. They do sting—badly—and can cause a painful rash. You’ll need to wear long sleeves and gloves when you gather them, and wash your hands after.
For packaged tea, follow the directions. To make your own nettle tea (which I think tastes the best), just take a couple big handfuls of nettle leaves and throw them in a jar. Pour boiling water on top, and steep. That’s it.
People have different ideas as to how long to steep your nettle tea. I’ve heard anywhere from 20 minutes to overnight. I usually do about an hour, because that’s how long I can stand to wait. A ceramic dish on top of your jar will keep in the heat. I make a lot of tea, in a big jar, drink a cup or two when it’s ready, then store the rest in the fridge, and drink it iced over the next few days. It’s so sweet, you don’t need honey or sugar.
Nettles can be used for stress and anxiety. I find nettle tea to be incredibly calming. You can feel the effects almost instantly, but it doesn’t put you to sleep like some other plants (valerian, skullcap). When I’m having a bad day, I know I need to get some nettles. You can buy extracts, but I think nettle is the most soothing, cheap, and easy to prepare in tea form. Perfect for surviving family time. You got this.
UP NEXT in the new year, for paying subscribers: How to stanch bleeding (really)