Baskets of goodness and love

Gift baskets make wonderful presents for any occasion.

Make your own gift baskets for a gift that is truly special, and fits nicely in the budget.

Preparing gift baskets of goodness and love

A basket full of edible (or non edible) goodies is the perfect gift for everyone on your list, especially those who are hard to shop for. Trouble is that buying those pre-made baskets can be rather costly. So why buy them pre-made? Make your own and cut the cost by half or more!

Making your own gift basket is not difficult, though, it will take some thought and a bit time. Making your own gift basket lets you tailor the gift entirely to the recipients tastes, preferences, and nutritional needs, while at the same time allowing you to create a memorable gift with in your budget.

Start by thinking about what the recipient likes and try to come up with a theme. Some ideas would include a coffee lovers basket, breakfast favorites, dinner and movie, sweet tooth, or organic and healthy. Really, the list is unlimited. If you are stuck for ideas, search through the ready made holiday gift baskets at your local store or online for ideas.

Once you have a theme in mind, it is time to pick the items for your basket. Start with your budget amount, and stick to it. Items can be exlusively food, non food, or a mixture of both. For instance a dinner and a movie basket could include a favorite movie, popcorn, candy, and maybe a gift card, or a soup and corn bread mix for dinner.

Food items will be much cheaper if you make them yourself. Fruits of course are popular choices for gift baskets, and require no effort on your part. Sweets such as chocolate covered pretzels, peanuts, and raisins are very simple to make, and require little time. You can make your own coffee, hot chocolate, soup, and baking mixes easily. Package your homemade items simply in pretty plastic bags, or in canning jars or small tins. Don't forget to include the directions if you put mixes in your baskets!

If you don't have the time, or simply aren't so inclined to make homemade food items. Head to the store to look for things that will fit your theme. Stores that handle overstock or closeout merchandise can be wonderful places to find gourmet type foods for a fraction of the cost at a traditional grocery store. If you are making multiple baskets with the same or overlapping themes, you may also want to consider purchasing items in bulk.

Once you have the items together, it is time to pick a basket. Don't limit yourself to just round wicker baskets. Consider different shapes and non basket containers. If you are including a baking mix, a large mixing bowl makes a nice "basket." Large tins work well, as do laundry baskets, serving bowls, and other containers. Finding something useful, that fits the theme of the gift, makes it extra special. The best place to find containers at great prices is your local thrift store. Try your dollar stores too.

Assembling the basket is not difficult. You can use tissue paper or shredded colored paper to dress the bottom of the basket up a bit. If it fits your theme, you could use something useful like cloth napkins or a kitchen towel instead of the paper. Be sure any fragile items are well protected. Try to put the largest items toward the center and the back of the basket. If you want to make an item a bit higher, simply place some scrunched up paper under it to give it a lift. The scrunched up paper can be covered with whatever decorative material you are using for the bottom of the basket.

When you have your items arranged how you like, you can wrap the whole thing by using cellophane, wrapping paper. cloth, or something useful like a beach towel. Fabric may not stand up like the cellophane or paper, but it works well if you have a tall item like a wine bottle to secure it to. Make sure your wrapping material is large enough that when the basket is placed in the middle of the material, the sides will pull up and meet over your goodies. Secure your wrapping material with a piece of sting or a long twist tie. Then add ribbon, and a bow to decorate. Attach your gift tag with tape, or with additional ribbon.

Then you have a memorable gift perfectly suited to the recipient; a basket filled with goodness and love.