You know rosemary.
That’s right. The herb. You know, the third one in the herb quartet, “Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme”?
You’re likely familiar with rosemary’s distinctive fragrance and its ability to uniquely enhance flavors in many fish and meat dishes.
Experienced foodies and mixologists have learned how to use rosemary to creatively enhance the flavor and aroma of their crafted food and cocktails by leveraging fresh rosemary’s superior aromatic quality and visual characteristics.
But did you know that fresh rosemary is also used creatively in homemade decor, beauty, and self-care products?
In most areas, fresh rosemary is available to be used creatively all year round. But its piney scent and color remind us of the familiar scents and sights of our winter holidays and is more appealing and captivating in the winter months.
This guide features fresh rosemary as an incredibly versatile fresh element that you’ll want to incorporate into creative holiday decorating, DIY gift making, and party hosting.
After reading this, you may be encouraged to grow your own rosemary plant so that you have fresh rosemary on hand whenever you need it. We’ll take you through that as well.
Ready? Let’s get on with it!
Invite Rosemary to Hang Out
Deck the halls this season with natural elements such as fresh rosemary in your decor, table settings, and gift wrap. Look to take advantage of rosemary’s fresh scent and evergreen-like qualities to provide an organic and economical DIY solution to your holiday decorating needs.
Play Ring Around the Rosemary: Rosemary Wreaths and Garland
Fragrant, winter wreaths are easy to make with fresh rosemary, especially if you follow Amy’s tutorial on How to Make a Rosemary Wreath on A Healthy Life for Me. She uses a purchased willow wreath as a base to assemble her pretty, fragrant wreath to hang inside or out.
Kate at Centsational Style takes a slightly different approach. She makes Simple Last Second wreaths by bending wire hangers into circular shapes, then wrapping them with fresh rosemary using florist wire. They’re easy to hang with the convenient, built-in hooks.
If you’d like a different look than the traditional circular wreath, look for alternate shape options such as stars or hearts. Ann-Marie from Ann-Marie Loves created a horizontal DIY Rosemary Wreath that doesn’t require a base. It’s easy to assemble with fresh rosemary, scissors, florist wire, and cord. Hang indoors or out with a damage-free hook. Pretty and practical.
Follow Cyd’s instruction from The Sweetest Occasion to make mini rosemary wreaths and assemble her DIY Mini Rosemary Wreath Garland. A cheery fresh garland is fun to hang on small temporary wire hooks in front of a fireplace mantle, around a door opening, atop a window, or along the front of a dish cabinet. When using the fireplace or candles, take caution if there is flammable fresh garland nearby.
Follow Jen’s instruction on See Vanessa Craft to make a Mini Rosemary Heart Garland. Hang rosemary-shaped hearts on twine with mini clothespins. Change the shape of the base to fit your decorating theme, like stars, candy canes or bells.
If you’re short on space but want the smell of a Christmas tree, consider Molly’s DIY Makeshift Xmas Tree Wall Hanging on her Almost Makes Perfect blog. This modern alternative to a full-sized tree hangs on your wall with damage-free strips and fills the room with the wonderful fresh holiday scent of rosemary.
Give Rosemary a Place at the Table: Rosemary Table Decor
A natural, rustic Holiday Table Decor project is a snap to put together by wrapping fresh rosemary around candles. Lily from LilYardor.com shares that the most expensive component of this centerpiece is the white candles, so this could be a very economical decoration if you have candles leftover from last year. For a flameless centerpiece, use battery-operated white candles.
Paula from Bell’alimento put together these DIY Holiday Floating Candles with canning jars, fresh rosemary, fresh cranberries and tea light candles that she had on hand. Again, if you have safety concerns about burning candles, use waterproof battery-powered tealight candles. Easy. Resourceful. Done.
A larger potted rosemary bush strongly resembles and smells like a Christmas tree. Decorated simply with battery-operated white LED lights, this makes an easy, long-lasting fragrant table decoration. When the holidays are over, keep the live plant watered until it’s warm enough to plant out in your yard.
Alternatively, place a small planted rosemary bush placed at each table setting to serve as a mini gift for each of your dinner guests. String red and white pony beads on baker’s twine to use as a simple garland for the mini trees. Optionally hang name tags from them to serve as place cards.
Give A Gift with Rosemary Gift Tags
The evergreen color and scent of fresh rosemary lends itself to adding some holiday flair wherever it’s used. See how Teri and Jenny re-purpose their rosemary wreath place card concept as sweet Rosemary Wreath Gift Toppers and attach to their gifts with baker’s twine.
For a no-fuss natural look, wrap gifts in brown kraft paper and add a simple gift tag attached with twine. Just before giving the gift, tuck some longer sprigs of fresh rosemary into the twine for a subtle aromatic surprise.
Pamper Yourself (and Your Friends) with Rosemary Spa Secrets
Aromatherapy has been around for a long time, but its popularity has increased within the past ten to fifteen years through the commercial production of essential oils. Aromatherapy engages our sense of smell (the strongest of our senses) to influence brain activity. Changes in our bodies can be triggered by a simple inhalation of a particular aroma.
If you’d like to read more about the health benefits of rosemary, Home Remedies for All has listed the many benefits (and precautions) for using rosemary as a home remedy. (Note that the use of rosemary oil and other essential oils is considered a home remedy and not intended to replace the advice of your physician.)
Of the many scents and combination of scents available, rosemary essential oil is most often used in aromatherapy for encouraging memory retention and fighting fatigue and headaches.
Follow the easy instructions below to make homemade rosemary essential oil for yourself, to give as gifts, or to use in other DIY projects that call for rosemary essential oil. When gifting, include a hang tag with instructions on How to Use Rosemary Essential Oil.
How to Make Rosemary Essential Oil
1/2 cup of fresh rosemary leaves (removed from stems)
1 cup high oleic, neutral odor oil (such as sunflower oil or safflower oil)
small slow cooker
glass bottle with a lid or stopper
1. Combine the rosemary leaves and oil together in a crockpot. (More or less as needed, but the ratio of rosemary leaves to oil should be 1 part rosemary leaves to 2 parts oil.) With the cooking temperature on low and the lid on, allow the low heat to promote the infusion of the rosemary into the oil for about six hours.
OR – Combine the rosemary leaves and oil in a tightly covered container, and allow to sit in a bright area for at least a week.
2. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool for about an hour. (Doesn’t your home smell wonderful?) Pour the cooled leaf/oil mixture through a strainer into a bowl to separate the leaves from the oil.
3. Pour your rosemary essential oil into a glass bottle and cover it tightly with a lid or stopper.
Crafter’s Tip: To use this oil in other recipes: 1 tsp. essential oil = 100 drops and 1/4 teaspoon of essential oil is approximately equivalent to 25 drops.
How to Use Rosemary Essential Oil: Simply add your rosemary essential oil to water and mist it into the room manually with a spray bottle or electric diffuser. On the go, you can put a few drops of oil onto a cotton ball and inhale briefly to obtain a similar benefit. Rosemary essential oil can also be used topically to relieve aches and pains.
Now that you have your own homemade rosemary essential oil, you can leverage the power of rosemary’s scent with quite a variety of DIY project options. Homemade bath and spa projects are economical and fun to make for yourself or as thoughtful DIY gifts.
Make Showers & Baths Better with Rosemary
Make up a batch of DIY Rosemary Sugar Scrub spa gifts with your homemade rosemary essential oil and chopped fresh rosemary using the recipe found On Sutton Place. Helpful photos of simple mason jar gift packaging ideas with free printable tags are included in the post as well.
The Homespun Hydrangea’s Homemade Rosemary Essential Oil Shower Melts turn anyone’s morning shower into an invigorating aromatherapy spa! Make them with silicone mini cupcake holders to avoid crumbling.
Garden Therapy’s Rosemary Lemon Soap (Two Ways) uses a wonderful scent combination of rosemary leaves and lemon zest with essential oils of the same ingredients and star-shaped cookie cutters to make soap on a rope and bar soaps that smell as pretty as they look! Great gift idea!
If you’re looking for a holiday-themed bath bomb to make for home or to give as gifts, Onion Rings and Things suggests a recipe to make Christmas Tree Bath Bombs with a Christmas tree ice cube silicone mold. Include a few drops of your homemade rosemary essential oil to the mixture and the bath will smell like a Christmas tree!
Mindy at Our Inspired Roots has tips for making Rosemary Water that can be used as a hair rinse to promote scalp and hair health, and subtly (and without chemicals) darken hair. Store it in a refillable pump bottle that’s safe to use in the shower.
Make Rosemary DIY Gifts for Him and Her
Use your homemade rosemary essential oil to make a great DIY Beard Oil gift for men. Using a funnel, pour homemade rosemary essential oil into a 1 oz. or 2 oz. bottle with a dropper-integrated lid and add a couple of drops of tea tree oil, which will help to reduce itchiness or flaking. Include a note on how to use rosemary beard oil: “Rub a small amount into your beard to your skin to help keep it looking healthy and smelling wonderful!”
Rebooted Mom’s Cooling Peppermint Rosemary Foot Cream is made with only four ingredients, which includes your homemade rosemary essential oil. This recipe creates a nice, relaxing foot cream to use right before bed. Combined with a pair of fuzzy socks to wear after applying, a small jar of this cream makes will make a nice DIY woman’s gift.
Ace the Sniff Test with Rosemary’s Cheat Sheet
Let’s face it… Given the choice, your guests (and you) would rather enter the house filled with a more pleasant aroma than that of your beloved Fido.
Whether you’re into aromatherapy or not, rosemary just smells good. And that’s important to remember, especially around the holidays when you typically have more visitors in your home. Lighten the air in your home with any one of these homemade air fresheners made with fresh rosemary or your homemade rosemary essential oil.
Make Your Own Rosemary Candles
Rosemary Evergreen Pressed Herb Candles look just as pretty as they smell. Stephanie Rose from Garden Therapy comes through again with this beautiful project that features fresh rosemary sprigs from the garden and essential oils. These canning jar candles are a fun project to make and a thoughtful gift!
Erin at Lemons Lavender and Laundry shows you how to create wickless Rosemary Lavender Wax Melts for your scent warmer. Pour a mixture made with your homemade rosemary essential oil with dried rosemary and lavender into silicone molds to make these beautifully scented wax melts for yourself and as thoughtful DIY gifts.
Stir Up Some Rosemary Scents
Purely Katie uses three simple ingredients in her couldn’t-be-easier Lemon and Rosemary Simmering Stovetop Potpourri. The freshly-scented combination of sliced lemons with fresh rosemary and vanilla extract simmers in water on your stovetop. For a safer option, put in a mini slow cooker and set an automatic timer to shut it off after 4 hours.
To make your own Rosemary Carpet Freshener [Download printable project sheet] simply combine
1/4 cup minced fresh rosemary with 1/2 cup baking soda, 2 Tbsp. cup each of corn meal and corn starch. Store the mixture in a mason jar with a mason jar shaker lid. Sprinkle your DIY Rosemary Carpet Freshener 10 to 15 minutes before vacuuming and you’ll love the scent that remains.
Keep your guest room’s chest of drawers smelling fresh (and ward off moths) with these easy Rosemary Sachets: [Download printable project sheet] Combine 1/2 tsp. of your homemade rosemary essential oil with 1/2 cup of dry, uncooked rice. Cut two 6″ x 6″ squares of cotton fabric with pinking shears. With wrong sides together, stitch around three sides of the square. Fill the pocket with the scented rice. Hold together and stitch the remaining fourth side. Bundle several of these together for an inexpensive DIY gift.
Follow Keri’s advice at Shaken Together to make Winter Fresh Gel Air Fresheners in half-pint mason jars with a combination of commercial rosemary and spearmint essential oils. (You can substitute your homemade rosemary essential oil here.) Her festive packaging suggestion makes these air fresheners a great gift idea!
Use leftover citrus peels and fresh rosemary from your garden to make a DIY Kitchen Air Freshener Spray. [Download printable project sheet] To get rid of kitchen (and other) smells quickly, combine 1/2 cup each of water, vodka, and white vinegar into a reusable spray bottle. Add some fresh rosemary sprigs, citrus peels, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract to the mixture. Screw on the spray top, shake the mixture, and spritz when needed!
Let Rosemary Steal the Spotlight at Your Next Party
Whether you’re planning a formal sit-down holiday dinner or casual Christmas get-together, fresh rosemary should be on your shopping list. Rosemary’s signature savory flavor lends itself well for these easy winter appetizers:
Get the Party Rolling with Rosemary Breads & Butter
Rosemary (yes, that’s her name) from An Italian in my Kitchen shares her super simple recipe for Easy Parmesan Rosemary Pizza Pinwheels. Make up a batch of these rosemary herb rolls in no time to serve as an appetizer in a bread basket with a warmer or compliment to stew or soup.
The Recipe Girl’s Phyllo Triangles with Gorgonzola and Rosemary require a little more time and effort (a basting brush helps) but are oh-so-worth-it. Follow Lori’s advice on steps to take to keep the phyllo dough from drying out and you’ll have no worries. (Except when your cocktail party guests start to fight over the last of these!)
Herb butter, otherwise known as compound butter, is simply butter that has been mixed with fresh or dried herbs. Make rosemary herb butter to impress dinner guests. Toni at Boulder Locavore shares her tips and several variations for her butters (two include fresh rosemary) in How to Make Herb Butter. Roll the butter into logs wrapped in waxed paper for home use or gift rosemary butter in attractive and unique Butter Bell crocks.
Enjoy Savory Goodness with Rosemary and Cheese
Sweet Paul created a simple yet beautiful holiday rosemary twig wreath presented on a round serving tray for his Holiday Antipasto Wreath (1) loaded with a variety of olives and mini mozzarella pearls.
For a lower-calorie cheese appetizer, Claire at Sprinkles and Sprouts shares her quick-to-assemble Rosemary Pineapple Mozzarella Bites (2) recipe that starts with infusing olive oil with fresh chopped rosemary which will flavor the pineapple cubes. Use fresh rosemary branches as skewers to assemble these sweet and spicy canapés on a simple rectangular serving platter. Ready in 20 minutes, 7 calories each, and they can be made ahead!
Honey, Rosemary & Walnut Baked Brie (4) is an elegant holiday classic that is ready to serve in about 10 minutes. What could be easier than that? Allison from Celebrating Sweets suggests presenting this beautiful appetizer to your guests directly from the oven in a small cast-iron skillet with bread, crackers, and fruit.
If you’re looking for another elegant savory appetizer with minimal effort, take a peek at Sarah J. Hauser’s Crostini with Caramelized Applies, Fontina + Rosemary (3). Just scroll to the end to find the recipe that features fresh rosemary and fontina cheese.
Up to a week prior to your party, put together Julia’s Rosemary Marinated Feta Cheese from Appetizer Addiction, by combining rosemary, zested lemon peel, chili flakes, and olive oil with cubed feta cheese in a sealed glass jar. This makes a delectable make-ahead appetizer (or foodie gift) to spread on crostini or to crumble on salads, pasta, or chicken.
Munch Away with Rosemary Snacks
Almonds get an (addictive) snacking upgrade when combined with minced fresh rosemary, maple syrup, and garlic powder in these Rosemary Sea Salt Roasted Almonds (1). Kari from Get Inspired Everyday admits that she became instantly addicted to these nuts when she tested her new recipe. Your party guests are bound to have the same problem. Try making these with Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup for a fantastic foodie gift. Total prep/cook time is only 40 minutes!
Lemon Rosemary Hummus (2) only takes five minutes to make. Serve it on a platter with veggies and parchment crackers and your guest will gobble it up. Marcie at Flavor the Moments always has the ingredients on hand to make this in case of a snack attack. Smart!
Rosemary and cheese combine again for Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn (3), a casual snack with big flavor! Samantha at Five Heart Home kicks Christmas movie night up a notch or two with this recipe! For gifts, fill a peek-a-boo bakery bag and add a “Handmade for You” sticker.
Dara, the Cookin’ Canuck makes Spicy Roasted Chickpeas with Rosemary & Brown Sugar (pictured right) for a quick protein punch prior to holiday shopping. You’ll love the sweet and savory snacking combo minus the guilt! Package these in attractive gift boxes for the health-conscious ones on your gift list.
Introduce Rosemary to Your Bartender
The holiday season provides a wonderful excuse (do you really need one?) to creatively experiment with new drinks and garnishments. It’s a great time to try to use rosemary in cocktails. Aromatic rosemary lends a savory, piney taste and pairs nicely in cocktails (similar to our appetizers) with sweet, acidic flavors like citrus, cranberry, pomegranate and apple. Let’s try a few, shall we?
Start with Some Rosemary Simple Syrup
The first step for your holiday bartender is to whip up a batch of Rosemary Simple Syrup. You can buy this in stores, but why would you when you can easily make it at home for pennies on the dollar?
Chloe’s post for DIY Rosemary Simple Syrup provides printable labels and advice for beautiful
gift packaging over at Boxwood Avenue. (Perfect for someone who likes a little sweetener in their
iced latte… Just sayin’.) Rosemary Simple Syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. (Be sure mixture is cooled before adding to cocktails.)
While You’re At It…
Sugared Rosemary looks like pine tree boughs laden with snow, so of course, they make a fun and festive holiday cocktail garnish. At Darling Down South, Cynthia shares how to make sugared rosemary while you’re making simple syrup. They’re so simple, yet bound to impress your guests.
Let Rosemary and Citrus Hang Out
Rosemary paired with citrus makes a wonderfully refreshing flavor combination. Experiment with these citrus-based cocktails to offer at your next party:
Try substituting your own Rosemary Simple Syrup for plain simple syrup in Livin’ the Pie Life’s Rosemary Lemontini. You’ll savor the additional rosemary flavoring and you’ll get extra points for serving it with Heather’s adorable and aromatic lemon peel and fresh rosemary garnish idea.
Lemon makes another appearance, this time in juice form. It’s combined with rosemary simple syrup, gin, and champagne in Kaylchip’s beautiful Christmas Cocktail Recipe: Rosemary Pomegranate French 75. Pomegranate and rosemary sprigs put a holiday spin on the classic French 75. Serve in these gorgeous long-stemmed champagne saucers!
Shifting the citrus focus to grapefruit, Karen of Family Style Food combines fresh rosemary and sugar to rim the glasses for her grapefruit juice and gin Italian Greyhound Cocktail with Rosemary Sugar. A sprig of rosemary (better yet, Sugared Rosemary) provides a festive garnish.
Emily’s French Tart Grapefruit Rosemary Cocktail (not pictured) from Nerds with Knives is definitely worth a try. Grab your rosemary simple syrup, squeeze some fresh lemon and grapefruit juice and you’re almost there! Garnish this pink beauty with a sprig of fresh rosemary and enjoy!
One last citrus cocktail with lime this time: We can’t omit the Rosemary Vodka Gimlet (left) highlighted by Danielle in Our Salty Kitchen. Use your rosemary simple syrup and lime juice to make individual cocktails or to prepare a large batch for a self-serve station for your party. Offer fresh rosemary sprigs in an attractive garnish and condiment tray (add some cold water) to add to this simple and festive cocktail!
Sparkle with Rosemary Cocktails
Feature the classic colors of Christmas when you serve Pomegranate Rosemary Gin Sparkler over pomegranate arils frozen in twisted prism jumbo ice cubes with a sprig of fresh rosemary. Sues at We Are Not Martha combines the flavors of rosemary simple syrup, gin, and pomegranate juice to make this festive Christmas cocktail.
Vonnie from My Catholic Kitchen kicks off her Muddled Rosemary and Pineapple Cocktail by gently pressing fresh rosemary and pineapple against the sides of a cocktail or wine glass with a cocktail muddler to release the fragrances of both. Then she simply adds sparkling wine and ginger ale to the glass and garnishes it with a sprig of fresh rosemary. Couldn’t be easier!
Offer a Rosemary Mocktail to Your DD
Don’t forget to offer a festive mocktail (or two) at your party. The Red Velvet Spiced Holiday mocktail, made with aromatic Seedlip Spice 94, can be enjoyed by everyone at your party. This refreshing and elegant non-alcoholic drink combines this full-flavored botanical spirit with rosemary simple syrup, muddled cranberries, and grapefruit juice. Your designated drivers will not be disappointed!
Red Velvet Spiced Holiday
[Download Printable Bonus Recipe]
1 cup fresh whole cranberries
2 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
1 oz. grapefruit juice (no sugar added)
2-3 Tbsp. rosemary simple syrup (to taste)
1 1/2 oz. Seedlip Spice 94
2 whole cranberries + long sprig of fresh rosemary for garnish
1. Muddle together cranberries and rosemary leave in a cocktail shaker.
2. Add grapefruit juice, rosemary simple syrup, and Seedlip Spice94.
3. Fill shaker to 3/4 full with ice. Cover and shake for approximately 30 seconds.
4. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour the liquid into a martini glass.
5. Garnish with 2 cranberries on a rosemary sprig. Enjoy!
Open Your Home to Resourceful Rosemary
As we’ve seen, there are many creative options for using rosemary, especially during the holidays.
For smaller amounts of fresh rosemary to use in appetizers or cocktails, you can find rosemary sprigs in the produce section in your grocery store.
Remember that fresh rosemary sprigs are perishable, and will start to wilt once left in the open air. If you can, cut sprigs from a live plant the day you need them. However, that’s not always possible so the next best thing is to store fresh rosemary sprigs wrapped in a damp paper towel in a sealed baggie or container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Down the road, you may decide to cultivate your own live plants. The good news is that rosemary plants are easy to obtain and easy to grow in your home, on your patio, or out in your garden.
You can typically find fresh rosemary plants with other live herbs at a plant nursery, in the gardening section of home improvement stores or through online garden suppliers. There are several different varieties of rosemary, so be sure to select one that will grow well in your area.
During the holidays, many stores sell rosemary plants as miniature “Christmas trees”. These are simply potted rosemary bushes clipped into cone shapes like Christmas trees that smell wonderful! You can keep them indoors over the holidays, then transplant into your garden in the spring after a “hardening off” period, where they’re gradually allowed to become accustomed to outdoor conditions.
Let the Holidays Begin with Rosemary
As a creative, you’ve likely been inspired by at least a few of the ways of how to use rosemary during the holidays.
Complete your holiday gift list by selecting a project or two suggested in this guide. Most of the highlighted DIY gifts are quick and easy and can be completed in less than a day. Your only problem is deciding which one to do first!
Many of the spa gifts suggested here require rosemary essential oil, so consider making your own essential oil. To save time and energy, you can make larger batches of one beauty product or food and divide them into multiple gifts.
Plan your holiday parties by selecting your creative food, drink, and decorating options well in advance. Keep in mind that decorations that use cut fresh rosemary will be at their best for only a week or so. For best results, plan to assemble and hang fresh wreaths or garland a day or so before your holiday guests arrive.
Prepare any non-perishable components of centerpieces, place cards or gift toppers in advance, and save adding the fresh sprigs until the morning of your party. If you know that you’ll be crunched for time prior to a party, avoid the stress and consider the decorating options that use live rosemary plants instead.
You’ll love using fresh rosemary this season as you create thoughtful gifts and decorate for the holidays. Undoubtedly, it’ll launch you directly into the spirit of the holiday (especially after you sample a rosemary cocktail or two!)
Now, put on some Christmas music and get creative with using fresh rosemary!
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