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12 Days of Handmade Christmas Gifts Series --- Day 10: Handcrafted Potpourri

This time of year, I'm drawn to the spicy and woodsy scents, like clove, cinnamon, pine, and cedarwood.  These essential oils smell amazing, but they aren't appropriate for skin care products.  They're just too strong to be used on the skin.

Instead, I use them in handmade potpourri.  I can enjoy the scent throughout the house, and the final result costs just pennies.

This nature-inspired potpourri looks gorgeous in a rustic dish and smells even better.  It's also a fun craft to make with the kids.

Wrap this potpourri in muslin bags for fragrant sachets, or gift it in a mason jar.  (I know, the mason jar thing is getting kind of redundant, but I think everything looks cute in a mason jar!)

Handcrafted Potpourri
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon cloves
1/2 cup dried orange peels
1/2 cup dried apple slices
3 cups "nature items" (stay with me... I'll explain below!)
essential oils of your choice (clove, cinnamon, pine, cedarwood, sweet orange, and peppermint are great seasonal choices, but feel free to choose whatever strikes your fancy)

Step 1:  Peel 1 or 2 large oranges.  Eat the oranges, save the peel.  Lay the peel on a baking sheet.  Thinly slice one apple.  (No need to core it.  The core and seeds will look nice in your potpourri.)  Lay the apple on the baking sheet as well.  Place the sheet in the oven on low until dried completely.  Check every so often to make sure they aren't burning.  This drying process can take several hours.

If you're not into making your own, or you're in a hurry, you can buy these already dried or leave them out of your potpourri altogether.  It's your mixture, so why not?

Step 2:  Get your jackets on, we're going outside!  This is my favorite step in potpourri-making.  Take a walk around your yard, or through your neighborhood, or local park.  Bring a brown paper lunch sack and fill it with lovely natural items to add to your potpourri.  Some ideas: small pine cones, nuts, tree bark, interesting twigs, fragrant leaves, dried flower heads or petals, rose hips, those spiny balls that fall from the trees... use your imagination!

The interesting thing about making potpourri this way, is that your mixture will be completely unique depending on where you live and the season.  It's a very cool way to bring your local natural atmosphere into your home.

Step 3:  Go back home with your goodies and toss them into a large bowl.  Add in your dried orange peels and apple slices and stir briefly.

Step 4:  Take your cinnamon sticks and clove.  Crush them lightly with a mortar and pestle (or a rolling pin in a dish towel.)  We're not going for completely pulverized, just break them up a bit to release their scent.  Add these to the potpourri as well.

Step 5:  Add 40-60 drops essential oil to the potpourri, depending on your liking.  I really like a mix of cinnamon, clove, pine, lots of sweet orange and a little cedarwood.  Play with it and come up with your own signature scent.  Or use whatever essential oil you have on hand.  Just have lavender?  That's perfect too.  Toss the mixture to distribute.

Step 5:  Spoon into a quart sized jar.  If you have a bit extra, make a second smaller jar.  Seal tightly with a lid.  Let set for a few days to allow the scents to meld and then your potpourri is ready to use.

I decorate the lid of my mason jar with burlap and a jute ribbon.  It's a very country chic look.  Then, whenever I want to fragrance the house, I just open the lid.  It also looks cute poured in a ceramic crock or bowl.

More in the 12 Days of Handmade Christmas Gifts Series:
Day 1: Winter Wonderland Bath Soak
Day 2: Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub
Day 3: Hot Cocoa and Marshmallow Mask
Day 4: Winter Forest Bath Salts 
Day 5: Lavender Orange Bath Bombs
Day 6: Peppermint Hot Chocolate Lip Balm
Day 7: Moisturizing Shaving Soap for Men
Day 8: Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans & More Yummy Treats
Day 9: Snowball Sugar Scrubs
Day 10: Handcrafted Potpourri  (You're here!)
Day 11: Peppermint Orange Body Balm
Day 12: Marbled Christmas Soap

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