Beautiful Gifts on any Budget!
By Corie Benjamin
Stuck for gifts ideas for your daughter’s teacher, your estranged cousin, or the co-worker you drew as a Secret Santa at work? Christmas baskets are easy but elegant gifts that can be modified to fit any person on any budget. The items in a basket can be as personal or generic as desired, so custom baskets are the perfect gift solution for those difficult-to-shop-for people on your list.
Baskets can be any size or cost, based on budget and intent. Small baskets (usually based around a coffee mug or bowl) can be made for under $20. Large baskets are more elaborate, involve more items, and cost about $30–$40 to put together. A basket with food and drinks is the easiest project because it can be given to almost anyone—although always be sure to check with the recipient for any allergies. If you plan to make multiple gift baskets for the holidays, begin collecting items for them early.
What you’ll need to make a basic gift basket:
- A Container: Your entire project revolves around the container: it is the base of your project. Pick either a large mug for small projects or a basket for larger projects to arrange your items in. Cheap, plain mugs can be found at dollar stores and Home Sense outlets. Travel mugs or specialty mugs can add a personal touch. Baskets can be wicker or woven and any size. For medium-sized projects, try a sushi bowl! Give some thought to choosing a container that can be repurposed after the basket has been received; this adds a level of practicality to the gift.
- Gift Items: For an easy start to your basket, try loose-leaf tea, coffee, powdered cider, hot chocolate, or a mix of any of these depending on the recipient’s preferences. Individually wrapped chocolates, candy canes, or peppermint bark (which can be found at bulk dry goods stores) can be added to fill in extra space.
We suggest the following items for a small basic basket: a small bag of coffee or tea, two candy canes, one fancy coffee stir spoon, Werther’s Original caramels, and individually wrapped chocolates.
For a larger basic basket, consider several small bags of different flavoured coffee and tea, a small tin of mulberry cider, packets of gourmet cocoa mix, homemade cookies, peppermint bark, specialty mugs, candy canes, and a variety of candies and chocolates for filler.
Wrapping your basket:
Clear cellophane wrap and ribbon are recommended. Dollar stores and craft stores are the best places to buy these materials. Wrap can be plain or patterned, and ribbon colours should be chosen based on the holiday or the theme. Combinations of red, green, and gold are recommended for holiday baskets. Curling several ribbon ends with scissors is an easy way to create a decorative bow.
Extras: Basket stuffing to improve the presentation of your basket can be purchased from a dollar store. Or make your own by putting some holiday wrap through a paper shredder!
Assembly: Gather all your items and remove any price tags. Tea or coffee items can be left in individual bags, or, for those willing to put in a bit of extra effort, these items can be packed in custom containers; for example, jars with squares of fabric fixed to the lids with ribbon for decoration. Put some stuffing in the basket before placing your items inside. Place the large items in first and then arrange smaller items in front of them. Once you are happy with the arrangement of the gift items within the container, put it in the center of a square of cellophane wrap, gather the corners of the wrap above your basket to encase it, and tie-off with curled coloured ribbons to complete this project.
For pet lovers:
Make a pet lover’s basket by including items like cookies (for the two-legged and the four-legged alike!), “Bags on Board” with refills in fun colours and patterns, a stuffed animal, and a chew toy (stuffed antlers are recommended for added holiday flavour).
For book lovers:
Check out the bargain section of your local bookstore and find a book your intended recipient would enjoy. Ask staff for recommendations if you are not sure what to pick. Include a bookmark or two, cocoa mix and cookies, and perhaps a reading light, interesting paperweight, or other novelty items.
A loofah, bottles of soaps, body sprays and lotions, bath salts, or some combination of these will form the main part of this basket. Find these items at bath and body stores advertised as stocking-stuffers or on sale as overstock or discontinued. Fill in extra space with lip balms, small scented candles, and a purse-sized container of hand-sanitizer. Attach an interesting hair accessory to the ribbons when you finish wrapping your project for a unique touch.
The variations are infinite, so be creative and design some holiday baskets for the special people in your life this holiday season!
Photos by Corie Benjamin