How to Make the Perfect Gift Basket
Updated: Sep 9
One of the coolest things about making so many gift baskets is that people ask me for help on how to make a great looking gift basket. This is a lot less annoying than being a writer and having your friends ask you to 'just take a look at my resume and cover letter which I have to submit in 10 minutes' or 'when you get a minute, could you bang out this 87 page whitepaper on the correlation between productivity and business meetings? I'm no good at whitepapers'. I actually like being asked how to make a great looking gift basket, and it's easier than you might think!
How I learned to make gift baskets
I have been giving people handmade gift baskets long before I started SaltZ&Co, but I can actually thank Mike Harris for teaching me how to make gift baskets properly. How many people can say that?
When I was in my early twenties, I was on welfare for 6 months. In order to earn my Metropass, Ontario Works required me to perform community service/volunteer work. I don't remember all the choices, but one of them was to serve coffee at a local job centre, one was to sort through a massive warehouse full of musty garbage bags of donated clothing for resale, and another was to make pottery.
Now I don't know about you, but when I heard 'make pottery' I imagined that scene from the movie Ghost where Demi Moore is doing erotic things with clay with the assistance of her spirit boyfriend. I had also seen lots of gorgeous handmade pottery like this
and I like working with my hands, so it was a no-brainer for me. I signed up to make pottery 3 days a week.
What I didn't know about making gift baskets
My fellow volunteers and I were led to a drafty room with dirty floors and shown a bunch of 25-lb bags of slip. If you don't know what slip is, it's basically clay dust. You add water (there was no hot running water) and mix it into slurry, then pour it into a mold. Every day was a day of freezing cold hands, fine choking dust covering us from head to toe, and absolutely no relationship to the finished product...
...until one day, one of the staff brought out a bunch of clay baskets. Turns out that's what we had been making when we poured the slurry into the molds, which created a cool effect of latticework as if the basket had been woven from strips of clay. The baskets were to be filled with various products and sold at hospital gift shops.
That one magical day, we got to paint and glaze the baskets, which was great; but what was even better was the lesson on how to fill and wrap a basket.
Now, you can YouTube the crap out of how to make a gorgeous gift basket - but back then, we didn't have YouTube. I didn't even have Internet at home, I used to go to cafes and rent time by the hour (remember Internet cafes? God I'm old). So I have some basic tips that anyone can wrap their head around, to make gift baskets for all occasions.
Tips for building a beautiful gift basket
1. Consider your recipient. This will help you choose the basket itself - the actual bucket, so to speak, that will contain everything you plan to put inside. Does your Aunt Susie love white wicker? Does Uncle Kevin have a lot of small tools that he could put inside a reusable wooden crate? Is your mom a hoarder who would be better off with something that doesn't take up a lot of space, like a canvas tote instead of a basket that will sit on a shelf?
2. Plan a theme. Obviously if you're doing a basket for a baby shower, you will want to include mom & baby items - the choices are basically endless. Other great themes include:
You can even build a theme around someone's favourite colour, or fragrance, or both, like our Lavender Lovers Basket.
3. Plan a budget. I find it very difficult to stay within budget, which is probably why our SaltZ&Co spa gift baskets are overly brimming with bath and body care products for the price :) When planning the budget, don't forget to include the cost of the basket itself, plus the wrap and any 'picks' (flowers, decorations, ribbons etc.) that you may use.
4. Get an anchor. The biggest problem people seem to have with making their own gift baskets is that everything just looks thrown together. It doesn't look 'professional' because your eye just skips around all the different items in the basket. So, you need to pick one focal point - usually the largest item, whether it's a bottle of wine, a book, or a teddy bear. This item can go in the middle of the basket or at the back, which helps other items lean on it.
5. Choose your basket fill. You have to put something in the bottom of the basket to best display your products. You'll want something that matches the basket itself and doesn't clash with the theme/colour scheme. Ideas include crumpled kraft paper, basket shred (it comes in many colours), fabric as a liner, straw, etc.
6. Arrange the items in a way that pleases the eye, trying not to hide any items behind others. This is where sticky-tac can really come in handy to prevent items from sliding around or falling behind others. In this case, the tea cup is balanced on the saucer with the help of sticky tac.
7. Add a little decor that matches with the theme. Walk away and come back to it for more perspective; is that flower a little too big? Does that elf stuffy look a little creepy for a toddler?
8. Time to wrap! I love basket bags for ease of use, but if you are using the transparent wrap that comes on a roll, you want to cut a piece big enough that, when you put the basket in the middle, there is enough wrap at the front and back to pull up and leave a nice bunch at the top.
9. Starting from the middle, gather the wrap in about two inches at a time, first one side, then the other, so that you are holding the basket by the bunched wrap. The sides will be open but we can fix that later. Tie off the middle with any little piece of string.
10. Gather in the sides one at a time and fold as if you were gift wrapping a box. You can use clear tape to affix the plastic or mini staples if preferred, though these can tear the wrap if the basket is too heavy.
Now you can add a bow...and don't forget to have fun with this! With smart shopping, you can save a fortune over store-bought baskets AND make something really personal that has meaning to your recipient. So much better than a mug with a hot chocolate sachet in it!
Time running out? You can order a spa gift basket customized to your needs and budget, in time for the holidays - order by midnight December 14th!
Happy Holidays from SaltZ&Co!