Roundup: 20+ Inexpensive DIY Gift Basket Ideas We Love

christmas gift basket ideas

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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. 
christmas gift basket ideas

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.

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(BTW: I decided to break these homemade gift ideas into three sub-categories. Stuff for her, stuff for him and stuff for anybody.)


christmas gift basket ideas

Gift Baskets for Women

Bay Rum Aftershave by MaggieMason.

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.
Gunline Coffee

Gift Baskets You Can Give to Almost Anybody

Here are some more accessories for everyone:



Final thoughts:


  • 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.
What do you think? Any other tips or Christmas gift basket ideas you'd like to share with other Curbly readers? Let us know in the comments below!


Glass Bath & Body Bottles

Hey! We have 20+ MORE gift basket ideas. Go check them out here!

Also check out our Seriously Awesome DIY Gifts for Men!


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JB MARYN on Aug 06, 2014:

Great gift basket ideas! They are my favorite gift to give during the holidays. I always like to check out local artisan fairs to find great items to stuff inside. Thanks for sharing your great advice.

Terri on Apr 17, 2014:

Im new to the world of basket gift giving. I was very impressed with your ideas and i cant wait to get started. Thanks so much.

Alexi on Mar 07, 2014:

There are some amazing ideas for gift boxes and baskets out there! I wish I was more into crafting, though, because I am never able to make my presents look like the pictures. My sister is really into crafting, so maybe I'll strike a deal with her and watch her kids while she wraps my presents, this year. I'm sure she would be totally willing to help me out if she has the time.

Anonymous on Jan 28, 2014:

For bags, I just take Ziplocks, cut off the zipper part and tie them with ribbon. It's cut and cheap and no one notices :)

Anne @ Unique Gifter on Nov 25, 2013:

Good tips! I'm craving some rich hot chocolate after seeing all of those photos.  Another way to get a pop of colour is to run coloured tissue paper through a paper shredder.  It's a good use of tissue paper that is a little too well loved to reuse in a gift bag.

Heather on Oct 18, 2012:

The dollar store has some decent plastic bins and baskets for just $1, too.  They aren't the cutest things ever, but some ribbon and/or paint could jazz them up.

Anonymous on Mar 27, 2012:

Our Church has an auction every spring and I love giving baskets at Christmas with misc finds and handmade goodies.  We love to yard sale and I have found nice large baskets for less than 25cents although I am willing to go up to as much as $1.  Never more because there is always another sale around the corner.  At one YS I scored 10 fairly decent baskets for 50 cents for the whole lot.  Baskets are everywhere and if i can't find one of those I will use an old shoebox decorated.  Goodwill works when I need something quickly but their prices are a little higher.  Good luck in your search !!

Ali on Dec 01, 2011:

Hi Lisa, Goodwill is a great idea! I will definately check there before buying something new. I love using second hand stuff. Thanks for the suggestion!

lisa on Dec 01, 2011:


What a sweet, simple and fun idea! Keep a lookout for the album covers from Goodwill or maybe ask as part of a freecycle group. Your pocketbook will thank you and your gift receivers will adore the baby pictures... who doesn't like baby pictures!

ali on Nov 28, 2011:

This is a great idea. I never know what to do for people for Christmas, I could make up a batch of baskets factory style and give them out. I thought about including a tiny book of photos of our new baby in each one and maybe some gingerbread people.

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