I remember as a child making holiday gifts. They were made with love. Why not carry on that tradition by making a gourmet gift basket filled with the things your friends and family will want? It's easier than you'd think, and can really get the creative juices flowing. After all, who doesn't love food that's been selected especially for you.
First, you'll need to think of the "theme" for your gourmet gift basket. Rather than just randomly tossing in things, take a moment to create some common thread between each item. This is where it helps to know what the recipient likes. Here are some starter ideas to get the wheels spinning:
- Around the world: Select pasta, a nice Chianti, and salami from Italy. You could also create a South-of-the-Border basket with tomatillo sauce – try World Table Roasted Salsa Verde, dried poblanos, tortilla chips, John Wm. Macy's Smoked Jalapeño CheeseCrisps and Mexican beer etc....
- Sweet 'n salty lover's basket: Find sea salt chips, chocolate covered pomegranate seeds, yogurt covered pretzels and John Wm. Macy's Dutch Chocolate SweetSticks. Salts are becoming a popular gourmet item, so find an interesting one such as Himalayan salt, or one of these many options from saltworks.us, and include something sweet too, like agave nectar or sugar in the raw.
- Wine and Cheese lover's basket: this traditional combo is always a hit. Select a red and a white if the person likes both. You don't want cheese to spoil, so this is where boxes of cheese flavored items, like John Wm. Macy's CheeseSticks, work really well. You can include decorated wine glasses, or a cheese knife.
- Nibblers delight: fill with nuts and other snacks like John Wm. Macy's CheeseCrisps, wasabi peas, pickles, olives, popcorn, or jarred peppers. Add a few small snack bowls too- check out this assortment of choices from thefind.com.
Save yourself from running store to store. Ordering items online is quick and easy.
While it may be called a gift basket, there are a variety of vessels you can use to stow all the gifts. What's nice, is that you may already have some of these items around your home. Try to match the container with the items if you can. Again, create a common thread.
- Metal beverage tub: These are perfect for the gift "basket" that includes beverages like wine, beer, or seltzer. This is good and sturdy for mug sets and other heavy items.
- Large bowl: Either plastic or ceramic works fine, and is a gift in itself.
- Wood box or fruit crate: You may be able to find these at a grocery store, or flea market. Just be sure to clean it up. You can even customize it with paint.
- Fabric wrapped box: Find a sturdy, shallow cardboard box the right size and remove the top. Be sure to use a thin piece of material for wrapping so it doesn't bunch up in the corners. This is a thrifty choice, especially if you have any fabric remnants already.
Many ready-made baskets use thick, shredded paper as a base for propping the items in the basket. You could do the same. Or, you could simply wad up some sturdy Kraft paper to create the "poof" needed to fill some space. This way, if you have small items, they won't sink down between the paper shreds.
By all means, don't just randomly stuff in the items. Arrange them (almost like you would flowers) to create varying levels and color patterns.
- Place tall items in the back, any boxed items should fill in the next level.
- In front of that, place shorter jars, or bags of tasty treats.
- If you're including any gadgets or extras, like hand towels, cocktail napkins, or bottle openers, tuck them in between where there may be a gap, or where you need to "break up" any similar shapes.
- If you're putting in mugs, you can place smaller items inside.
- To avoid breakage, any glasses should not stick out from the sides. Better yet, wrap them in a piece of cloth tied with ribbon. Allow the very top to peak through so the recipient can see what they are right away.
That's a wrap
Now your basket is ready for the finishing touch. Cellophane wrap is the most popular way to complete a basket. This can be found in most shops that carry gift items, or in retailers like Target, Wal-mart, or Michaels. Make sure you cut a piece that is large enough to fit around the "basket" with plenty left to gather at the top.
Tie a ribbon, some raffia, or even fabric strips (if you're going for the crafty look) around the gathered cellophane.
Give from the heart to the stomach this season. It's easy, it's fun, and it's creative. The personalized touch will really make someone happy.