In the world of gifting hacks, one reigns supreme—the personalized, DIY gift basket. While you can buy pre-made gift baskets just about anywhere, they’ve taken on the same vibe of “I didn’t know what else to get you” that tarnishes neckties and coffee mugs. A homemade gift basket, on the other hand, allows you to get really personal. You get to choose the cookies you know your best friend adores, the earrings created by her favorite artist, or the bath bombs in her signature scent—and then present these personally meaningful things in a container you know she’ll be able to keep using. Best of all, it’s a lot easier than you think. Here’s how to make a gift basket that’s better than any you’ll find for sale.
Choose a Gift Basket Theme
The best gift baskets revolve around a theme—afternoon tea, for example, or sewing notions, or golf. Consider what you know about your friend—what do they like to do? Their hobbies and interests are what? What makes them feel special and pampered? What do they need that they wouldn’t buy for themselves? If you’re having trouble coming up with a theme on your own, here’s a short list of ideas you can build on:
- Gardening items for your friend that loves to grow things
- A tea-themed gift basket for your friend who’s obsessed with loose tea
- A breakfast-in-bed basket for their birthday
- A your-first-dorm-room basket for the high school grad heading off to college
- Golfing items for your friend who loves to golf
- A homemade spa basket for your bestie who could use a relaxing spa day
- A kitchen gadgets basket for your baking friend who’s trying to make do with a basic kitchen
- A glam basket for your favorite makeup fanatic
If you’re really stuck, find one thing you know your friend will absolutely love and build a theme around it.
Find a Container
Don’t let the “basket” in gift basket fool you. The most memorable gift baskets are those in unusual containers—I stocked this desk organizer with crayons, markers, glitter pens, coloring books, art pads, and an assortment of colored stickers to create the ultimate arts organizer gift basket for one of my favorite 6-year-olds. Get creative, and choose a container that fits your theme.
Here comes the fun part! You get to go shopping and buy a whole bunch of stuff. Take the time to go bargain hunting—you’ll find a huge array of unexpected goodies at your local dollar store, garden store, or supermarket—or, of course, on Amazon, which means you don’t even have to leave the house. Choose a combination of consumable items—cookies and candies, soaps and shampoos, seeds for planting, or gourmet coffee—and reusable items such as coffee mugs, sewing notions, kitchen gadgets, or picture frames, so they’ll have something to enjoy and something to keep.
Make It Pretty
Don’t panic! This is a lot easier than you think. Start by getting all your gear together. You’ll need your container, your gift items, wrapping or tissue paper, scissors, cellophane wrapping paper, and ribbon. If you’ve chosen a deep container and have a lot of small items, you can start by stuffing the bottom with crumpled tissue paper to give you a higher base.
Place the largest items in the basket first, then fill up space around them with smaller items. Wrap fragile items—like these stunning champagne flutes—in tissue paper to cushion them. If you want to extend the surprise, try wrapping individual items before putting them in the basket, though it’s not strictly necessary.
If you’re wrapping your basket with cellophane from a roll, cut a piece big enough to wrap it in before you start. Place the cellophane, printed side down, in the middle of your table or assembly area, then assemble the basket on top of it. That way, you won’t risk messing up your pretty arrangement.
Wrap It All Up
If you’re using flat cellophane wrap, pull the sides up around the container, tucking and pleating as necessary to get it to fit around your gift basket. Hold the wrap together at the top with a rubber band to keep both hands free for tying a ribbon and bow around it.
Super Pro Tip
Make it easy on yourself by using large cellophane bags that shrink to fit whatever you put in them. Just put your assembled gift basket into the bag, gather the top, and heat it with a blow dryer to shrink it down to size.
DIY gift baskets really are the ultimate gifting hack. They can turn an assortment of everyday items into something so special, it will be remembered for a long time to come.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.
Deb Powers is a freelance writer living and working in Massachusetts. She writes frequently about health, wellness and lifestyle topics.