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Gift baskets can be terrific presents for nearly any occasion. But buying the pre-made ones can be expensive.
By making instead of buying them, you won’t have to spend a lot of money on gifts.
The best thing about making gift baskets is how you can personalize the contents to the recipient while at the same time, save boatloads of money.
Gift baskets make fantastic presents for co-workers. And, they’re terrific as raffle prizes.
The key to successful gift baskets is to carefully curate each item you’re going to put in the basket. And then, spend some time to make sure the basket and the contents complement each other, so the recipient will be blown away by your design efforts.
Choose a Basket
When you’re making gift baskets, you have to think about sizes.
Remember, a big basket is going to cost more to fill. If you buy a big basket but only fill half of it, the beneficiary of your generosity will think you’re cheap.
Best to buy a smaller basket if the presents you purchased for the recipient won’t fill a larger one. You also have to start thinking about a theme, because whatever basket you buy has to fit that theme.
Food-themed baskets are the most popular kinds of gifts baskets. For these, a rustic-looking wicker basket is often the best choice because it suggests you’re about to have a picnic.
But these aren’t the only kind of baskets that would work. If you want another type of basket, choose something that gives off a homey vibe.
For example, you could stack wine, crackers, and cheese on a bamboo board, place gourmet coffee in a burlap sack, or artistically arrange fruits in a delightfully retro crate. You can choose baskets made from a dizzying array of materials, including wood, plastic, fabric, and metal.
Expand the definition of what a “basket” is. Depending on the theme, boxes, bags, jars, and even flowerpots might work. For example, a plastic beach bucket would be perfect for a beach themed gift.
Use baskets that are pleasing to the eye and big enough to hold everything.
Try to find the most unusual and interesting-looking containers. Your best bets for snagging these for little cost are at garage sales, thrift shops, and dollar stores.
For a super simple container, wrap a cardboard box with pretty wrapping paper and use that as a basket.
Filling the Basket
Shred is material you stick in the spaces around the gifts in your basket, giving everything a fuller look. It also cushions the items, so they don’t bump against each other and break.
To make some for free, cut up some old newspapers with a paper shredder. You can use brown bags, colored paper, leftover Easter grass, straw, or raffia strips for your shred.
Raffia is a grass-like material that’s perfect for shred. Suppliers make raffia using strips from the raffia palm tree, which only grows in Madagascar.
Wrap Your Basket
Cellophane wrap prevents presents from falling out before your recipient has a chance to see your gift. This kind of wrap comes in sheets.
Buy cellophane bags if you don’t want to do any cutting.
You can also purchase shrink bags. Gather the excess beneath the basket and then use a hair dryer to shrink the entire wrap from the bottom up.
Tulle, a delicate netting made from acetate, rayon, or silk, is sometimes used as a wrap. Only use tulle if you don’t need to protect the items from moisture.
You can also use cheesecloth to wrap your baskets.
A gift basket should have some theme. Having one makes it easier to choose the items that’ll go in the basket.
Use a variety of exciting themes to jazz up your gift giving.
Make sure each item fits in with your chosen theme. For example, you shouldn’t fill a basket with gourmet toffee popcorn, Wisconsin cheddar cheese, and crostini crackers. And then, randomly throw in a loofah.
You’ll end up bewildering the recipient, and you’ll dilute the power of your theme. That takes away the fun.
Narrow down your theme so it’s not too generic. Wanting to treat the receiver to a cornucopia of delectable food is nice, but “food” is too broad to stand alone as a theme.
Think of the receiver’s favorite cuisine and weave a well-thought-out theme around it. You’re telling a story with your gift basket, so make it a good one!
Indulge the chocolate lover in your life with a gift basket overflowing with all her favorite decadent treats. Come up with an imaginatively named chocolate theme for the basket.
Consider the time of year too. Each season and holiday have specific foods that go with them.
Sometimes, you’ll want to base a theme on a special event, like a wedding or anniversary.
The options for creative themes are endless. Give somebody who likes to watch films at home a “Home Movie Night” basket with DVDs, microwave popcorn, movie candy, and a gift certificate to their favorite takeout restaurant so they can order out when they watch.
For the basket, use a plastic popcorn tub.
Kids’ Themed Baskets
There are so many possibilities for kids’ themed baskets.
To make this type of gift basket more fun, choose a toy that you can fill with goodies as your basket. These are things like baby doll strollers, toy treasure chests, plastic pumpkin containers, and dump trucks.
Other excellent choices include brightly colored plastic baskets and plush-animal shaped containers. Think about the recipient’s age and interests to help you figure what to put in the basket.
Make sure each item is safe for children. And, that it’s appropriately matched to the age level of the child.
Don’t buy gifts based on what’s traditional for the gender of the child, unless you know for sure that this will appeal to your recipient. Some boys aren’t interested in action figures or toy cars. Some girls might not find dolls all that exciting.
Showcase an Item
Pick the biggest item as your featured toy.
By choosing one toy to stand as the focal point, the basket will catch the child’s eye better. For example, the feature toy in a toddler’s gift basket might be a magnetic building block set, around which you group the smaller toys.
An older kid might enjoy a mini-drone.
You might be able to skip the featured item if the basket you use is a fantastic toy in its own right. If you used a Tonka dump truck as your gift receptacle, you don’t need a featured toy.
Spa Themed Baskets
If you’re going with a spa theme, choose a shower caddy for the basket.
Choose one with few compartments, because it can be hard to fill if there are too many. Add luxurious hair care and skin products.
The recipient should have everything she needs to enjoy a relaxing spa day at home. That’s why you should include a variety of both products used everyday and luxury bath products.
Everyday bath products include anything that most people regularly stock in their bathrooms, like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, and face wash.
Luxury products include things most people use to treat themselves only on rare occasions. These include effervescent bath tablets, exfoliating body scrubs, and aromatic bubble bath.
Pick scents that go well with each other, so the recipient can use all the products together during her well-deserved spa day if she so chooses.
Think of ways to enhance the receiver’s spa experience beyond merely the bathtub. For example, scented candles create a cozy, and romantic ambiance for the gift user.
Italian Pasta Dinner
Italian gift baskets are always a favorite treat.
Curated by you with lots of love, an inspired pasta dinner gift basket includes everything the recipient needs to enjoy a sumptuous pasta feast.
Choose a pasta bowl or a colander as your basket. Then, add some of the following:
- marinara sauce (if you have culinary skills, try making your own)
- quality gourmet pasta
- spaghetti tongs
- crushed red pepper
- fresh garlic
- basil plant
- bottle of wine
- parmesan cheese
- cheese grater
- a loaf of Italian bread
- olive oil
- jar of olives
- jar of antipasti
- Grissini (Italian breadsticks)
- aged balsamic vinegar
Snow Day Survival Kit
At thediymommy.com, they tell you how to make “Snow Day Survival Kits.” These handmade Christmas gifts are great for anybody who’s at risk of being stranded at home in inclement weather.
Even during the holiday season, it’s difficult not to feel miserable when you’re stuck inside. This specialized gift basket will help keep the user’s spirits up even when the weather outside is frightful.
Put all or some of these things into a large, rustic-looking tin, and you’re good to go:
- cookie ingredients
- cookie recipe
- cookie cutters
- hot chocolate mix in a mason jar
- an assortment of gourmet coffee
- card games
- DVDs of movies perfect for a winter’s day
Car Wash in a Bucket
I know someone who lives to wash his cars. I see him out there in his driveway, washing them multiple times in one day.
It’s a bit of a fetish for him. I think he’s not happy unless there’s not a single dust particle besmirching the perfect look of his vehicles.
This “Car Wash in a Bucket” would be perfect for him. The best thing about this is that the basket is a bucket the receiver of the gift can use when he washes his car.
Give your recipient the ultimate collection of car wash supplies to make his automobile shine like never before. Here’s what you can put in the bucket:
- Car Guys Hybrid Wax Sealant
- Armor-All Wheel and Tire Cleaner
- Armor-All tire shine
- glass cleaner
- microfiber wash mitt
- microfiber wash towels
- short handle brush
This gardener’s gift basket will delight anyone who loves everything there is to like about plants. Put your items in a planter box, a garden tool tote bag, or a wicker basket perfect for harvesting fall’s garden bounty:
- pocket pruner
- pocket snips
- gardening gloves
- plant mister
- wooden plant markers
- peat pots
- air plants
- gardening books (so they can still indulge their passion when it’s raining outside)
- gardening journal
Selecting Your Items
Fill your baskets with a mixture of both store-bought and handmade presents. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. To save money, shop at dollar stores or discount shops.
And stick to a budget. Even if you’re shopping at discount stores, you can easily overspend if you don’t set monetary limits.
One way to save money on items is to bake stuff. Things like fudge, cookies, and brownies you made yourself are perfect for gift baskets.
Buy your ingredients in bulk to save even more.
You could make items from things you grow in your garden, like flowers for potpourri, herbs for a favorite dish, and berries for jams.
No matter the time of the year, fruit baskets add cheer to the life of both friends and family. In the middle of long winter, make one to brighten up a loved one’s day with a little edible sunshine.
Colorful and nutritious, fruit always looks as good as it tastes. A basket filled with fruit arranged just so is a thoughtful gift.
But why buy a commercially prepared basket when you can make your own?
If you’re frugal with what you put into it, you can make one for about five bucks. So, you save tons of money by doing it yourself. And you can customize your design, so your recipient feels like it was made just for him.
Make sure that only the fruit your recipient can see through the cellophane is ripe. Choose photogenic fruit that’s firm with no blemishes, and varieties you know the receiver will love.
Avoid very small or delicate fruits like blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries. These will get squashed, turning your carefully crafted basket into a wet mess.
Apples, oranges, bananas, pineapples, grapes, and pears are a few suggestions. If you’re using apples, use different varieties and colors to make your basket stand out more.
Harder fruits go on the bottom and softer fruits on top.
Select some less commonly known fruit to make your basket more intriguing. At Christmastime, put Comice pears in your basket.
Comice pears are sweet, delicious, and buttery. Admirers call them the “Christmas Pear.” That’s because they’re at their peak flavor during the holiday season.
I know someone who crocheted an afghan for a friend’s wedding. Then, she got a wicker laundry basket from Michaels (The Michael’s app always has coupons for 40% off regularly priced items.)
She lined the basket with the afghan, and then, put champagne, dollar store wine glasses, candles, incense, and an incense holder in the basket.
The recipient loved the thought and care she took in putting this package together. If you have a talent for handcrafting things, think about doing something similar.
Building Your Basket
Now that you’ve selected a theme, it’s time to make your basket. Follow these steps:
- Gather together all the tools and materials you’ll need.
- Make sure you have all the presents you’ll be putting in the basket in front of you.
- Start putting the items in the basket. If you have a deep container, use an old florist’s trick and put a few layers of tissue paper underneath the gifts. This trick elevates them for a more eye-catching display.
- Begin by placing your tallest, sturdiest item in the center. Think of this as the centerpiece around which you’ll showcase the rest of your gifts.
- Arrange the other objects from tallest to shortest around the center. Turn them around, so they face the outer perimeter of the basket. Look at the basket from all sides and make sure everything looks beautiful and balanced. All the items should be able to remain upright when left alone.
- If you have an item that’s too bulky, try taking it out of the package. Or, use a portion of it.
- Use softer items like hand towels or other gifts made from fabric to fill in gaps.
- As you add items, make sure everything’s facing forward.
- Add tissue to any remaining gaps.
- Ask a buddy to help you wrap the basket. Don’t cut the wrap until you’re sure you have enough material for a gather at the top.
- Twist the cellophane at the top of the bag. Have your buddy hold the cellophane while you tie the ribbon to create a bow. Use wide, wired ribbon for the bow, as it’s sturdy and you can shape it in place. Any excess can be folded underneath the basket and taped. You can also use silk flowers instead of a bow.
- Any trinkets you use to add the final touches to your basket should keep with the basket’s theme. If you’re making a Christmas basket, a nutcracker soldier would be a perfect addition. You can often find these kinds of items at tag sales or dollar stores. Small ornaments like these make a gift basket pop.
- Give your basket its final attention. Fold and tape any cellophane flaps under the bag.
- Add a card letting your recipient know who gave you the basket. Include the “to” and “from” information and a brief message.
Start Your Own Home-Based Gift Basket Business
If you’re getting good at making gift baskets, think about monetizing your talent.
Starting a gift basket business isn’t difficult. And it doesn’t require a significant outlay of cash. There are many advantages to owning a gift basket business, the best one being you can do it out of your own home.
Here’s how to start one:
- REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS’ NAME: Register the name of your business. While you’re at it, get a tax identification number and any necessary licenses.
- SUPPLIERS: Find the right suppliers to supply your baskets, wrapping paper, ribbons, food items, toys, or whatever else you need to make your baskets. Do some comparative shopping to find the best supplies at the best prices.
- PREPARE SAMPLE BASKETS: prepare five to 10 standard baskets such as gourmet food baskets, toiletry baskets, and shower baskets. Prepare two or three personalized baskets, so people can get a general idea of what you make. Tell your customers you can individualize each one for the intended recipient.
- GET YOUR EQUIPMENT: If you’re sending your packages by mail, obtain any special equipment you might need, such as a shrink wrapping or box wrapping machine.
- ADVERTISE: Although satisfied customers are the best advertisement, you’ll have to advertise in more direct ways too. Hand out brochures. Start a website. Do whatever it takes to tell everyone you have the best damn gift basket business on the planet.
It’s Time to Wrap Things Up
I hope this article on making gift baskets will inspire you to make your own. By doing so, you’ll have a gift personalized for each recipient.
And, it’ll be much cheaper than the store-bought alternative! Who knows—if you get good at making them, you could even start your own business.