Dec 19th, 2015

Living Gifts Keep on Giving

One example of a living gift is seedlings planted in a container and blended with berries, seedpods and cut flowers make an extraordinary hostess gift.

A blending of living plants with berries, seedpods and flowers provides an extraordinary hostess gift.

Weary of giving (and receiving!) the same holiday gifts year after year? One solution is living gifts!

With a few supplies, a couple hours and a dose of creativity, you can craft unique, yet practical presents that keep on giving because they keep on living. Terrariums, container plantings and DIY soil-and-seed kits are not only fun to give, they’re fun to make.

Another idea involves filling a souvenir glass with soil and plants, making it a personalized living gift inspired by a special occasion.

A souvenir glass from a memorable occasion doubles as a plant container for a personalized gift.

Gift ideas

Fantasy comes alive for children when they receive their own living gift, such as a miniature terrarium themed as fairy or troll garden. Find decorative pieces first, such as a brightly colored toadstool, fairy tea set or troll house, and then select complementing plants that set the stage for imagination. A nice selection of props is available at the Garden Shop at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Lavish a tea drinker with flavorful herbs, such as mint, chamomile or lemon balm planted as living gifts in a decorative teapot.  Cooks may enjoy a kitchen planter of Italian herbs, hot peppers or zesty spices. For the cat lover on your gift list, plant some catnip in a kitty-cat mug.

A business professional may enjoy a tabletop garden of living gifts for his or her desk. Easy-to-care-for plants may work best, such as miniature cacti, and small props can symbolize hobbies and interests.

Naturalists may welcome “landscapes-en-miniature” for indoor display. Evergreen seedlings provide year-round greenery, while tiny pinecones, acorns and dried seed pods tucked around the plant base add texture and interest.

A glass jar can be layered with pebbles, soil and plants as an DIY living gifts.

Glass jars show the layering process and add interest to DIY living gifts.

A specialty glass embellished with the logo of a favorite restaurant or entertainment venue can be filled with soil and tiny plants as a living gift doubling lasting memento of good times shared.

If the recipient—not you—has the green thumb, consider giving a planting kit with amaryllis, paperwhite or narcissus bulbs, or a DIY planter accompanied by separate packages of pebbles, humus, fertilizer and seeds.


Such unique living gifts deserve unique presentations. Wrap or embellish the planting container with:

  • freshly cut leaves, layered around the container and cinched with roping or holiday ribbon
  • funky sock, leg warmer or stocking hat stretched over the container’s bottom and sides
  • scrapbooking or homemade paper folded up the sides and secured with themed stickers
  • ragged burlap accompanied by a raffia bow
  • nature-themed scarf or bandanna


A personalized holiday greeting can be written on a:

  • tiny chalkboard tucked in the arrangement
  • seed pack tied to the bow
  • miniature watering can or shovel from a craft store’s dollhouse aisle

For the final touch, pen a gardening quote on the reverse as a special remembrance.

Editor’s note: This article first published in The Richmond Times-Dispatch in December 2015.

About Lynn Kirk

Lynn Kirk, a freelance writer and marketing consultant, has collaborated with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden since 2002. She considers it a joy and privilege to write newspaper articles and member newsletters for such a top-rated (and utterly gorgeous!) public garden.

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