Those suggestions sound great!
I actually saw the golden rain reaction in my chem book and wanted to try it, but I didn't know that it had such a neat name. And thanks for the heads up about lead salts. I plan to check the MSDS for everything I use and might make before I perform any reactions.
The chemical garden and distillation of essential oils look like really fun projects too. Extracting chemicals seems just as exciting to me as reactions.
What would be the cheapest way to get the chemicals needed for these projects? Such as potassium iodide and lead nitrate for the golden rain, and the metal salts for the chemical garden? I've never actually purchased these sorts of chemicals before.