Who likes getting gift baskets during the holidays? The better question is: who doesn't? But only if they're filled with stuff we love. The problem with giving gift baskets, of course, is the expense. Costs can rack up quickly when you fill a big, beautiful basket with a little of this and a little of that. When all is said and done, that stuffed basket might blow your Christmas gift-giving budget to the moon. There are, however, some Christmas and holiday gift basket ideas that are actually budget-friendly, thanks to our DIY natures and some really great tutes floating around on the intertubes.
Before we get started, let's talk about the baskets. The single most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a basket is size. Remember a big basket is going to cost more to fill, and if you choose not to fill it, then it looks sad and you look cheap. (Seriously. It does. You do.) No, a better rule to live by is 'smaller basket filled large.'
Baskets for Gifts
Okay, we we've decided to go smaller with our basket choice, but even those can be expensive, so the trick is to find good--and cheap--alternatives. Here are some that come to mind:
- Wrap the bottom and inside sides of a sturdy cardboard box with pretty wrapping paper and use that as your 'basket'. I'd opt for square boxes, like the ones in which flowers are delivered, as the shape feels more suited to the task. But that's me.
- Re-gift baskets from past gift baskets. Don't worry; nobody is going to know. Unless you re-gift to the giver, and that's just tacky.
- Check thrift shops for acceptable, structurally sound baskets that can be given new life with a shot of spray paint.
Which Filler Should I Use?
All baskets need some sort of filler. The absolute best, eco and pocket-book friendly choice is and always will be paper out of the paper shredder. If you want it to look a bit more colorful than the standard 'paper out of the bin', you might want to check your recycling for colorful magazine pages that you could shred to add into the mix.
The Gifts that Make all the Difference
Check the vast majority of pre-packaged gift baskets out there and you'll see they have something in common. A lot of the stuff in them was made in some other far-flung land. (My apologies to all those in far-flung lands.) Nope, for OUR budget-friendly baskets, we will be including things made with our own hands. Not only will this save us heaps of dough, it will also increase the points on the thoughtful scale as registered by the receiver.
(BTW: I decided to break these homemade gift ideas into three sub-categories. Stuff for her, stuff for him and stuff for anybody.)
Gift Baskets for Women
- Bath salts. Tipnut has a nice variety of how-tos. For more exotic scents, check out My Delicious Ambiguity, which also include free labels to print. All make several cups, which means there will beenough for several baskets.
- Sugar or salt scrub. Care2 has some GREAT recipes for sugar scrubs--all sound good enough to eat. And here's another super simple alternative at The Clumsy Cook. For salt scrubs, this selection from Tipnut is nice.
- Oatmeal soap. The Farmer's Almanac has an easy and CHEAP recipe for making oatmeal soap. They suggest using leftover soap slivers, but for a gift, I think it might be best to opt for un-used, scent-free soap.
- A bath puff. For crocheters, check out this DARLING pattern for a puff (pictured above) or this flower puff at Erin Olivia Designs. For knitters, check out this Fiesta Bath Mitt from Slip Slip Knit.
- A candle. All 'pampering' gift baskets should include a candle--even if it's just a tea light. For a super easy but lovely tea light holder, check out this old tutorial. I made my candleholder with multiple receptacles, but for a small gift basket, a block of wood with just one or two holes would be appropriate.
Here are some good gifts for those not so DIY inclined:
Gift Basket Ideas for Men
- Shaving cream. I put together a roundup a while back over at Curbly's sister, um, brother, site ManMadeDIY that will certainly cause a lather.
- After shave. After the foam comes after shave. This time Chris did all the work. Note the inexpensive cucumber recipe.
- After shave salve. For that guy with dry skin, try this recipe for coconut/shea butter salve. I'm guessing it would be great for calloused hands and fingers too. (There's also a recipe for Apple Cider after shave on this page.)
- Bath mitt. Martha tells us how to make a super easy bath mitt for the guy who shuns the puff. (A nice accompaniment would be to include a bar the oatmeal soap listed above.)
- Reed Diffusers. Guys seem to gravitate to diffusers more than to potpourri, which is why a DIY diffuser would be a great addition to a guy's gift box. We'll start with our old friend Tipnut for a nice how-to. Here's another at Re-nest and a super cheap idea from Josh and Ashley. I'd scrounge in the recycling bin here too and look for a tall, medium-sized, capped glass bottle, in which to put the tincture. Then I'd tie the reeds/bamboo skewers to the bottle with some jute to keep them tidy until they're ready to use.
Every man needs some shaving accessories:
Gift Baskets You Can Give to Almost Anybody
- Flavored coffee, teas & cocoas. All Recipes has a yummy sounding Flavored Cappuccino Mix, Mocha Coffee Mix and something called Gunline Coffee (pictured above) that gets seriously good reviews. If those don't pique your interest, check out CD Kitchen's lengthy list of beverage mixes, which also includes a variety of hot cocoa mixes as well as various teas and hot spice drinks too.
- Dipping spoons. Especially good for those cocoa and coffee mixes are dipping spoons. Alpha Mom gave us all the details on how to make a variety of flavors.
- Biscotti. Martha has some incredible recipes for coffee's best friend, biscotti. They're festive enough to be included into your holiday cookielist.
- Turtles. A little bag of super simple pretzel turtles are a must for the DIY food basket. (I've made these several times and they're fab.)
- Acorns. These chocolate and peanut butter acorns are a new find for us, but they are sure to be a perennial favorite and another great addition to gift baskets everywhere.
Here are some more accessories for everyone:
- Old jars. Bath salts, after shaves and the like are going to need containers. The vinegar bottles pictured below were featured in Country Living back in '09, but my Spidey sense tells me that we probably have something very similar in our recycling bin right now. For the scrubs, I'd suggest salsa jars and the like as they're easier for fingers in which to dip.
- New jars. If you'd rather use 'fresh' jars, two great sites to visit are SKS and The Jar Store. Both sell jars perfect for some of the projects mentioned in this post, but they're sold in cases of twelve. However, at a dollar or so a pop, that's a lot of gift basket gifts for not a lot of cash. Of course, many big grocery stores do carry small canning jars, which would be a good choice too.
- Bags. For the spoons and biscotti, bags are the way to go. A good resource is Creative Gift Packaging. Again, quantities are large, but the cost is still very low. For small quantities at a higher price, your local craft store is always a possibility too. Martha, for example, has several cello treat bags available at JoAnn's. And, of course, in a pinch there's always Ziploc.
Also check out our Seriously Awesome DIY Gifts for Men!