All In One Basket

By Christopher Crown

September 29, 2017 5 min read

Crafted improperly, the gift basket can be the "spring-cleaning" of gift giving, often composed of a bulky assortment of random items and foods that interests no one. On the other end of the spectrum, prepackaged gift baskets can be impersonal and overpriced. To avoid high mark-up on gifts your family and friends don't want, consider creating your own gift basket based on a unique theme; it's more fun, often costs less and is a genuine way to show someone you care.

To create a worthy gift basket, it is essential to pick out a unique theme first. This will make your gift special and also help direct the shopping beforehand, says In picking the theme, Jane Lake, contributing writer for, suggests really personalizing the contents and style to fit the recipient and make the gift more thoughtful. Useful starting questions for selecting a theme include:

--What do they love to do? (Examples: hobbies, pastimes, relaxation, sports, cooking, DIY projects.)

--What would make their life a little easier?

--Is there any gift they want that you could build a basket around?

--What foods, drinks and/or brands do they prefer?

Below are some additional ideas from for gift basket themes:

--Pamper Mom. Bubble bath, bath salts, towels, candles, a CD of meditative music, gift card to a local salon and/or for a massage.

--Book lover. A few best-selling books, wine glasses, wine, gourmet snacks, gift card to local bookstore or

--Outdoor adventurer. Sleeping bag, fishing pole, mini lanterns, fixings for s'mores (graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate), headlamps, bug spray, citronella candles, gift cards to outdoor stores.

--Italian dinner night. High-end pastas, a variety of sauces, Italian bread/bread sticks, Parmesan cheese, a bottle of red wine, and gift cards to an Italian deli and local Italian restaurant.

--Local vendors. Products from local vendors like baked goods, soap, jewelry, candles and scarves (or other knitted creations).

Going beyond personal gift preferences, in a 2017 article on, a holiday staff writer suggests several ideas for building a gift basket around an activity. For example, a "First Snow" basket including mittens, a book from their wish list, hot cocoa mix and all the necessary ingredients and tools to make sugar cookies. This concept was also made popular by Man Crates -- an online company that provides masculine-themed gifts in wooden boxes. Say your friend loves to cook outdoors: create a grilling themed "basket" of spice rubs, grill tools, meat thermometer, smoking hardwood and an apron they'll love, all packed into a chimney for charcoal briquettes. Kim Stoegbauer from recommends experimenting with creative containers that are incorporated into the whole gift instead of the standard wicker basket. These activity themes not only create a put-together feel but also provide opportunities to share the activity together.

After you have picked out a theme, proper variety in gifts is essential. Even for a simple "Coffee Connoisseur" basket with different varieties of roasts from around the world, it is important to add in other gifts to round out the basket. For example, adding in a ceramic mug, gift cards to local coffee shops or a package of biscotti can really elevate the quality of the gift. An old-time musical movie collection might be great for the film buff in your life, but adding in some specialty popcorn, their favorite movie candy and a comfy blanket will make the gift seem even more thoughtful. However, it is crucial to include all the necessary items needed to facilitate the main gifts. If your science themed gift basket includes the instructions for homemade volcanoes but no baking soda, the gift could fall flat.

Custom gift baskets are a great present to show someone that you know what they like and took the time to assemble something perfect for them. Creating a special theme might take extra time, but the payoff in the end is a personalized and unique gift.

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