I don't buy into the notion that one must purchase gifts for friends and loved-ones, especially when hand-crafted gifts of locally gathered materials can inspire wonder in the receiver. Here is a sampling of natural gift ideas for all seasons:
Dried wildflower arrangements – instead of gifting cut flowers, consider making arrangements of dried flower stalks (Pods: Wildflowers and Weeds in Their Final Beauty by Jane Embertson has many fine examples)
Twig whittlings – if you are handy with a knife, try whittling mini pine trees, tiny wooden canoes or simple chop sticks (Chris Lubkemann's Little Book of Whittling contains several other ideas with step-by-step directions)
Spoons and spatulas – for the cooks in your life, try carving large wooden kitchen utensils
Wooden ornaments, coasters, and napkin rings – a branch or split log can be thinly crosscut with a saw to make one-of-a-kind medallions, coasters or trivets; drilled pieces can be turned into napkin rings (Tree Craft: 35 Rustic Wood Projects that Bring the Outdoors In, also by Lubkemann, has many other wood-based crafts)
Bark wall hangings – thin wood slabs, with bark still attached, can be split off from logs and hung on walls to serve as tree identification tools and natural reminders to get outdoors
Birch bark bookmarks and cards – birch bark from fallen trees or firewood logs can be cut and used as is or etched for a personalized touch
Most of these gifts have the benefit of not lasting forever, and can simply be returned to the landscape or burned ceremonially in a fire to release them from their current form. Share your natural gift ideas in the comments below.