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    Personalized Presents | Winter 2013 Out Here Magazine

    Make this holiday gift-giving season a little more personal with custom gift baskets

    Garden basket
    Make this holiday gift-giving season a little more personal with custom gift baskets.
    Out Here

    By Jodi Helmer

    Photography by Tom Milner

    Some people on your holiday shopping list may be difficult to buy for, while others seem to have everything they want or need. Solve those shopping dilemmas this season by giving a very personalized present: a gift basket.

    “Everyone loves getting a gift basket,” says Joyce Reid, who has been designing gift baskets since 1992 through her business, Creative Gifts to Go, in Flagstaff, Ariz.

    The most popular choice: A gourmet gift basket filled with edible treats such as coffee, chocolate, nuts, cheese, smoked salmon, crackers, and pate.

    Gift baskets can range from extravagant wonders, overflowing with goodies, to small and thoughtful presentations, including a mug filled with tea and biscuits for a beautiful budget gift.

    Begin by thinking about your gift recipient’s interests. Does the person enjoy drinking tea, like a particular sport or sports team, engage in hobbies, or have a particular passion? Perhaps you want to choose a broader theme, such as “movie night” or “primp and pamper.”

    It’s not essential to stick with a theme, Joyce says, but it’s easier to narrow the options if all of the products relate to each other.

    Once she has a concept, she starts with the basic building block for all gift baskets: the container.

    “The container can be part of the gift,” she explains. “It doesn’t have to be a basket with a handle.”

    Joyce has used coiled garden hoses, little red wagons, colanders, coffee mugs, and laundry hampers as containers. In fact, she believes that the more unexpected the container, the more excited recipients get about their gifts.

    Be creative, and a little unexpected, when choosing gifts to fill the basket. And be sure to keep the size of the container in mind when you’re choosing products.

    For tea lovers’ gift baskets, Joyce includes several kinds of bag and loose-leaf teas, Italian biscotti, lemon tea cookies, wafers, and a matching teapot and cup.

    Fill a colorful popcorn bowl with supplies for a movie night the entire family will enjoy: gourmet popcorn and seasoning, cocoa, DVDs, and movie candy.

    A cook’s basket might include a cooking utensil or two, potholders, unique oils, spices, pastas in unusual shapes, a variety of seasonings, measuring spoons or cups, and a timer.

    A fisherman’s basket could contain several kinds of tackle, such as hooks, lures, bobbers, swivels, and flies; fishing line; fish hook remover; a fillet knife; knife sharpener; poncho; a tube of sunblock; and a package of fish batter.

    Select enough items so that the basket is generously filled.

    “One of the biggest mistakes people make is choosing the wrong amount of product for the container,” Joyce says. “If you choose too much, it’ll be falling out of the container (and) if you choose too little, it will look skimpy.”

    Once the container and products are chosen, it’s time to assemble the basket. For the best presentation, fill the basket with filler such as colorful shredded paper (available at party supply stores) to raise the products and make them more visible. Arrange the items by size, keeping larger products at the back of the basket and smaller items in front.

    After the gift basket is assembled — and decorated, if you choose — cut a piece of plastic cellophane that fits snugly around the container. Joyce’s best advice? Don’t be afraid to get creative.

    “You can make beautiful baskets,” she says, “if you’re willing to experiment.”

    Jodi Helmer is a North Carolina writer.

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