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Our friend Rachel is the actual most thoughtful. She’s also crafty AF, and this excellent combination of traits results in some top-notch homemade gifts. From ghost pepper hot sauce to homemade bitters to this stovetop potpourri, we can’t get enough.
Keeping a little stash of dried orange rind on hand makes this gift a five-minute endeavor.
The other day, Cope had this sort of casual but blazing insight about the traditions that parents establish for their kids. He was talking about having made gingerbread houses as a child, and how that was such a big part of his memory of the holidays. The thing is, he’s pretty sure it only happened once.
I love the idea that kids sculpt their life stories out of these single, salient moments that parents might not even remember. Sometimes we try so hard to shape the way our kids see the world. Engaging in that process has got to be a good thing, but it’s fun and kind of freeing to realize that we’re not so much in control of the result of those efforts as we might think we are.
Well. Simmering stovetop potpourri on Boxing Day became that exact kind of instant classic in our household last year.
Our friend Rachel gave us this beautiful little jar filled with dried orange rinds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cranberries, and pine. I poured it into a little pot with some water and simmered it all day long. The house smelled amazing, and I could tell even as it was happening that my Pavlovian brain would forever associate that scent with the cozy relaxation of the day after Christmas.
So far it’s only happened once, but I plan to make it a thing forevermore. The kids can take it or leave it, and that’s fine with me.
An easy and affordable homemade gift
We absolutely love the idea that you can share this set of cozy feelings with everyone you know for about three dollars, and without any special skills other than your general awesomeness. Stovetop potpourri packaged into little jelly jars and adorned with a pretty label and a jingle bell makes a great gift for friends, teachers, family members, delivery folks, and more.
Protips for stovetop potpourri (a.k.a. slow cooker potpourri)
Spoiler alert: Protip #1 is that you can totally simmer this stovetop potpourri in a slow cooker on low with the lid off. That way you won’t have to watch it too carefully.
Protip #2 is this: If you’re simmering potpourri on the actual stovetop, be sure to keep an eye on it and top it up with water before it gets too low.
Protip #3: This recipe includes fresh cranberries and pine sprigs as an optional element for their color and festive vibe. If you include them, be sure to let your gift recipients know that they should simmer the potpourri within a few weeks. If you leave them out, these little jars will hold for many months.
Protip #4: If you aren’t gifting and just want to make your own house smell like a dream come true, you can totally dispense with the orange rind drying process and just simmer a little pot of this stovetop potpourri straight up.
- Handful of dried orange rind
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 heaping tablespoon whole cloves
- A few fresh cranberries, optional (see note)
- 1 sprig of pine, optional
- 8-ounce jelly jar
- 2 1/2-inch round kraft paper label or printable tags (see note)
- UG Stovetop Potpourri Free Printable Labels Template
- Red and white twine
- 1-inch jingle bell
To dry the orange rind
- Slice orange rinds into 1/2-inch-wide strips. You can do this over the course of several days if you like and leave rinds to air dry while you accumulate enough to dry in the oven.
- Preheat oven to 300°F with a rack in the center.
- Arrange rinds in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, until completely dried.
- Let cool completely before proceeding.
To assemble the stovetop potpourri gift
- Place a handful of dried orange rind into a jelly jar.
- Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, cranberries, and pine sprig, and close jar.
- Print labels using included labels template. If using Avery 22818 labels, be sure to print at 100% size (uncheck "fit to page"). It's a very good idea to test your printer settings on a plain piece of paper before printing on labels.
- Stick label onto jar, or cut out tag, hole punch, and thread with twine.
- Thread jingle bell onto twine, wrap twine around jar lid a few times, and tie.
It's nice to add cranberries and pine since they're colorful and festive, but since these ingredients are fresh instead of dried, they will shorten the shelf life of the jar contents. If you include them, just mention to your gift recipients that they should use the potpourri within a few weeks. Alternatively, you could use dried cranberries and pine or rosemary.
You can also print the printable labels template onto regular kraft paper to use as hanging tags. Cut out circles, hole punch, and tie with twine.