Themed gift baskets make amazing, affordable, memorable gifts. The key is to pick the items carefully and to pay attention to the presentation. Here is a complete list of our very favorite gift basket ideas for the upcoming holiday season!
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.
How to Choose a Basket
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.'
When choosing a basket, always opt for smaller rather than larger. Why? Because they're less expensive to fill, and a big basket scantily-filled looks sad. The better option is to go with a small basket and fill it to the gills.
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 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.
Be sure to use the basket best suited for the occasion. If you're making a Christmas gift basket, for example, use an appropriate material for the holiday. We mentioned using cardboard boxes wrapped with pretty paper for a basket to keep costs down, as well as re-using gift baskets and thrift store baskets that can be given new life with a shot of spray paint. All still great ideas, but it started us thinking about more utilitarian objects we could use for baskets. You know, baskets that have further purpose:
- new, 1-quart metal paint bucket, $2.97 at Home Depot
- new 6 or 8" terra cotta clay pots, $1.32 also at Home Depot
- a small storage bin, like this one at Target for $2.99
- a small 2-quart bucket, like this set of 4 on Amazon for $18.72
- a small metal colander, like this one from Kirklands for $5.99
Which Filler to Use in a Gift Basket
As for filler, we still really like the idea of used paper straight out of the shredder. (To make it more interesting, run a couple of colorful sheets from an old magazine through the shredder to mix in with the mundane stuff.)
Here's What to Put in Your Gift Basket
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 a few sub-categories. Stuff for her, stuff for him, stuff for anybody, and last-minute gift basket ideas)
Let's get started!
Gift Basket Ideas for Anybody
1. Spa Basket - This gift basket idea is perfect for that friend who needs a good excuse to relax. Fill it with loofahs, body washes, bath gels, candles, and a succulent for a pretty finishing touch. Head over to Style Me Pretty for more ideas.
2. Color-Themed Kitchen Basket - Stick with two or three colors and make sure to add a personalized piece like the gorgeous monogrammed dish towel in this basket. Read more over here.
3. Pancake Gift Basket - This might be my favorite... it contains a jar of pancake mix with the thoughtful (and delicious) addition of chocolate chips. Also included are maple syrup, coffee beans and handmade zucchini bread. Check out the details here.
4. DIY Movie Night Basket - DVDs, popcorn and candy... what could be better?! Wrap it in cellophane and add a big red bow to make it extra pretty. Here are the details.
5. Girls' Night In A Basket - This is a fun one... fill a basket with magazines, nail polish, bath gel, lotion and other relaxing goodies for the girlie girl on your list. Check out the original post here.
6. Pasta Dinner Basket - Buy a good bottle of marinara, some high quality spaghetti and a nice bottle of olive oil... and don't forget the red wine! Read more about this gift basket idea here.
7. Margarita Basket - Pair a bottle of tequila with a good margarita mix, and add a couple of limes and a yellow citrus juicer. Beautiful! More info can be found here.
8. Hot Chocolate Gift Basket - This is the perfect gift to keep your friends warm on those chilly winter nights. Check out the full tutorial here.
9. BBQ Basket - Here's a unique one... fill a basket with handmade BBQ sauce and a delicious rub mix. Here are the recipes.
10. Gardener's Gift Basket - For the friend in your life with a green thumb... new gardening gloves, a watering can and a pretty plant to tide them over until spring. Read more here.
11. Happy Hour Basket - A bottle of wine, unique glasses, a pretty tea towel, a baguette, grapes and other snacks are perfect for this one. Read more here.
12. Beer Lover's Basket - Assemble this one according to the recipient's taste; stick with domestic beer if that's what they usually drink, or go with a mix of unusual craft beers if they like to try new things. Check out more good ideas here.
13. Soup Basket - You've probably seen the soup-in-a-jar idea, but why not take it a step further and include ingredients for a recipe like tortilla soup above? Here are the instructions.
14. Breakfast For Two - This one has to be made right before, but it will be worth it... the recipient is sure to love it! Check out the details here.
15. Coffee Lover's Basket - This gift basket idea is super fun ... combine K-cups, vanilla syrup and delicious biscotti for a coffee lover's dream gift. Check out the instructions (and free printable tags) here.
- 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.
- DIY hot chocolate mix. We know. This isn't an earth-shattering idea, BUT this recipe for Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix sounds swoon-worthy.
- DIY hot chocolate sticks. No, they're not stir-sticks for hot chocolate. They're solid hot chocolate mix on a stick! Visit See Vanessa Craft to get started.
- DIY mints. Cream cheese turned into homemade holiday mints? Yes, please. Hoosier Homemade tells us how to make them.
- DIY lemon drops. Fresh-squeezed lemon give authenticity to these homemade lemon drops from What's Cooking America.
- DIY fudge. But not just ANY fudge. This is RUSSIAN fudge, and it has Bailey's Irish Cream in it!! The Kiwi Cook explains all and also gives a substitution for the Bailey's if you don't swing that way.
- DIY toffee. But not just ANY toffee. This is ENGLISH toffee. This time, the recipe comes from The Idea Room.
- DIY peppermint patties. Oh Nuts assures us these homemade peppermint patties are one of the easiest candies to make.
Gift Basket Ideas for Women
- DIY lip gloss or balm. Tinted like this recipe from Freebie Finding Mom or this super-easy 3-ingredient recipe at Coupon Closet.
- DIY lotion bars. This simple recipe from Wellness Mama looks like white chocolate peanut butter cups!
- DIY bath bombs. Although a little more involved than the previous ideas, this fizzy bath ball recipe from The Beauty Bar, sounds delightful both to make and give.
- DIY bath bonbons. If fizzy isn't your thing, than this recipe for lavender and coconut oil bath bonbons from Sow and Dipity sounds devine.
- DIY custom perfume. We won't fail as miserably as Schmidt if we follow this recipe from Simple Life Mom for homemade solid perfume.
- DIY coconut milk shampoo. The recipe from One Good Thing by Jillee sound absolutely decadent.
- 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.
Gift Basket Ideas for Men
- DIY cuticle cream. Although this recipe for cuticle cream from Homemade for Elle would be perfectly appropriate for a women, we're including it in the guy's column just to bring awareness to men's cuticle situation.
DIY hand cream. Again, this recipe from The Prairie Homestead for hand "butter" could be for her, but we like it for him. Especially "hims" that work with their hands.
- DIY after shave spray/splash. Sandalwood and sweet orange...it sounds good enough to eat, but this recipe from inhabitat is strictly an aftershave treat.
- DIY bath salts. For guys who like to take a long soak in the tub, this bath salt recipe from Don't Mess With Mama, sounds like a great way to unwind.
- DIY coffee soap. Made from used coffee grounds, Popsugar says their recipe not only exfoliates but it deodorizes the skin as well.
- DIY peppermint foot soak. If the guys on your shopping list haven't experienced a good peppermint foot soak for their pooped puppies, it's time. This super easy recipe from 4 Hats and Frugal is a perfect way to introduce the practice.
- 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:
10 Brilliant Last Minute DIY Gift Basket Ideas
Gift baskets make great presents for coworkers. Or friends. Or those impossible-to-buy-for people on your list. Okay, they're great for pretty much everyone. Here are ten beautiful, easy and affordable DIY gift baskets with clever themes that are sure to impress their recipients.
5. Okay, you caught me - this is a pre-made basket. But you could make your own using pancake mix, maple syrup, jam and any other breakfast goodies that you enjoy. [Photo: Browzer]
Some Random Ideas for Gift Baskets:
- 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.
- Jars and pots and mint tins. For the personal items in this roundup, check the recycling bin first. Squatty, wide-mouth jars are great for bath salts and the like. Altoids tins work for solid perfumes and lotion. A great on-line resource for cosmetic containers is SKS and the Jar Store.
- Bags. For food items, the best way to package them is in bags. Creative Gift Packaging is a great resource. Quantities are large, but the price is still very reasonable. Local party supply stores and craft stores are other options for cellophane gift bags too.
- Wrapping. Any DIY gift basket looks lux with a proper wrapping. Shrink wrap is a great option, but buying it on a roll is the most cost effective. Another option is to use inexpensive tulle to wrap the baskets. Tulle is inexpensive (as inexpensive as $.74 a yard), and it comes in a variety of colors.