Thursday, December 6, 2012

A DIY Christmas: Creative Gift Baskets

The key with giving gift baskets is to know the recipient.  I've heard from several people that they hate getting gift baskets during the holidays because the baskets usually include items they don't particularly care for (hamburger sauce? really?).

If you're sure your gift recipient likes all the items in a prepackaged gift basket, then by all means, give the person the prepackaged gift basket.

But, if you're not sure, then I'd recommend putting a basket together yourself and include only items you know they would enjoy.  Gift baskets should not be a cop-out... they're an opportunity to show you care.

My favorite types of gift baskets are themed baskets.  You can get really creative and spend as much (or as little) as you wish.

Where to find...

Baskets or containers  often go on clearance at craft stores, Walmart or Target on clearance after Easter or Christmas (I tend to stock up when I find a good deal on cute ones).  I've found containers for as low as $.75 each.

Ribbon, twine, raffia, etc. tend to go on sale periodically throughout the year, but is usually on clearance after Christmas. Use coupons as much as possible!  Or, try online here.

Tea towels or cloth napkins can be pretty pricey. I recommend checking out clearance sections at discount stores, TJ Maxx, Ross, or home stores.  Stores sometimes sell these items at a very low price if one gets separated from a set. I buy pretty towels or napkins in a variety of colors or patterns any time I see them marked down to around $1.

Cellophane basket bags can be hard to find.  Check with your local grocery store (they often carry the shrink wrap type and may be willing to sell you some at cost), or order online.  I found these on Amazon for a decent price.


Themed Gift Basket Inspiration:

Snowman Soup

  • A large, cute mug (preferably with snowmen or snowflakes, etc. on it)
  • Snowman Soup Hot Cocoa Mix
    • 2 cups prepared hot cocoa mix - whatever brand you like.  I find it's less expensive to buy the container of mix instead of the individual packets.  Be sure to buy the plain cocoa mix; you'll dress it up yourself instead of using the crunchy mini marshmallows that usually come with store bought cocoa mix.
    • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup small marshmallows
    • Package in a holiday treat bag (available at most craft stores) or small glass jar, tied with a blue ribbon to make it pretty.
  • Wafer type cookies (vanilla wafers, pirouline rolled wafers, chocolate covered graham crackers, etc.)
  • Optional items to include (depending on the recipient and how much you want to spend):
    • small snowman ornament or figurine
    • CD compilation of favorite snow related Christmas songs, such as:
      • Let It Snow
      • Frosty the Snowman
      • Jingle Bells
      • White Christmas
    • A classic Christmas movie (some suggestions here)
    • A Christmas book (involving snow, of course):  I recommend...
      • The Christmas Secret by Donna Van Liere
      • Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
      • The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas by Charles Schulz
      • Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons (a Calvin and Hobbes comic) by Bill Watterson
      • You can find many affordable books at Thriftbooks (free shipping!), or check out your local library to see if they sell used books (my dad's library does this)

Chicken In A Basket

  • Whole grain crackers (preferably a variety)
  • Red Grapes (leave on the vine to make it pretty!)
  • Homemade chicken salad (package in a unique glass jar, tie with a festive ribbon)
  • A small package of cookies or a mini loaf of pound cake
  • The recipient's favorite beverage, optional
  • This is a great way to show a friend you care!  I recommend bringing this basket to a friend's workplace shortly before lunch (call ahead to let them know lunch is on you!), or dropping this basket off at your friend's house on a day you know she will be crazy busy prepping for the holidays.

 Tea Party

  • Pretty teacup and saucer
  • mini scones
  • clotted cream
  • lemon curd
  • all fruit preserves
  • tea cake, such as this apple crumble cake or gingerbread
  • package of loose leaf tea (or tea bags), such as English Breakfast or Earl Gray (or your favorite herbal tea)
  • World Market is a great place to find affordable items for gift baskets.  They sell lemon curd, preserves and tea at most locations.

Family Game Night

  •  This basket has MANY modifications.  It all depends on the ages of family members and what types of games they enjoy.  If you're giving this basket to a couple with no children, consider making it a pre-planned "Game Night Party in a Box" so several friends can get together and the hostess will have less work to do.
  • Beverages, such as...
    • soda
    • bottled tea or lemonade
    • juice boxes
  • Popcorn, chips or pretzels
    • Try Annies soft pretzels or tortilla chips and nacho cheese
  • Cookies or bagged chocolate candy, such as M&M's
  • Gift certificate to a pizza carryout restaurant
  • 2 or more card (or other small) games, such as...
    • Phase 10
    • Uno
    • Morph
    • Monopoly Deal
    • Rook
    • Quelf
    • Pictionary Man (to go version)
    • Dutch Blitz
    • Millebournes
    • Boggle
    • Yahtzee
    • Chicken Foot (dominoes game)
Someday, I'll remember to take a picture of my gift baskets before I give them away... until then, I hope the ideas will inspire you to get out there and get creative!

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