How to Make Unique Theme Gift Baskets for Christmas
by Jane Lake
Get creative with your holiday gift-giving this year and make your own theme gift baskets.
The key to finding the perfect combination of items to put in your basket relies on your understanding of the recipient. For someone you know well – such as a parent, sibling or romantic partner – your gift basket can reflect your relationship with them while showing your appreciation for their individual interests and passions.
If you’re making a homemade gift basket for someone you know less well – a cousin that you don’t see often, your boss at work, or your child’s teacher, for instance – then your selection can be less precise while still conveying your thoughtfulness.
How to Decide on a Gift Basket Theme
For each person, consider the following questions: What do they like? What are their hobbies or interests? How do they like to relax? What do they need that would make their life a little easier? What do they like to eat or drink?
Selecting a Container
Imaginative containers can add much to a gift theme, so don’t limit yourself to baskets. If, however, a basket is what you want, check those at your local thrift store before buying new. You’ll have more money to spend on the basket contents, and you’ll likely have a great selection from which to choose.
Also consider these possibilities to hold your theme gifts:
Buckets – ice, sand or garden buckets
Bowls – plastic, glass, metal, wood or tupperware
Garden Containers – clay pots, clay saucers, watering cans
Household Containers – waste baskets, laundry baskets, wire mesh baskets
Bags – some backpack styles, straw bags with woven sides, fanny packs, cosmetic bags, clear plastic zippered bags such as those used to hold duvets or comforters
Tins – cake tins, tea caddies, cookie tins, muffin trays, sturdy foil containers
Plates – charger plates, oval serving platters, decorative or commemorative plates
Boxes – jewelery boxes, single or double shoe boxes, recycled cardboard boxes of all kinds, clementine orange or fruit crates.
Develop a Gift Theme
Use the following gift basket theme ideas to develop your own selection of theme items. These theme gift lists can be slimmed down or expanded as desired, but make sure you include enough related items to establish the theme. In some cases, we suggest suitable containers, but these can also be amended as desired.
College or University Student
Stack a wire mesh tray or other container with: pens and pencils, printer paper, USB flash drive, computer screen cleaner, mouse pad, phone card, postage stamps, book light, trail mix or other healthy snacks.
Crafters Gift Basket
Pack a storage container or basket with craft supplies, including some of these ideas: artist’s paint brushes, acrylic paints, decoupage medium, glue gun and glue sticks, scrapbooking paper, greeting card blanks, metallic or gel pens, craft books or pattern sheets, ink pads and rubber stamps, rolls of ribbon, transfers or decals, candle wax pellets and wicks, beads, wire, and jewelry findings, florist’s foam, air-drying clay.
Kids Coloring Pack
Stuff a bright colored storage box with: coloring books, construction paper, sketch pad, crayons or colored pencils, nontoxic markers, sticker packs, white glue, paints and brushes, safety scissors.
Wine Lover’s Basket
Fill a wine bucket with: wine glasses, bottle of wine, cork screw, a pair of candles, plus a selection of cheese and crackers.
Bath Gift Basket
Layer a wicker basket with: epsom salts or bath salts, bath or shower gel, aromatherapy candles, loofah sponge, pumice stone, back scrubber, plush washcloths and, of course, the must-have rubber ducky.
Pasta Lover’s Gift Basket
Stack a plastic or metal colander with pasta goodies, such as: gourmet pasta, pasta grabber, extra-virgin olive oil, olives, pasta recipe book (or favourite hand-written pasta recipes), parmesan cheese, spaghetti sauce, pesto, and small bottles of dried garlic, oregano and basil.
Letter Writing Gifts
Stack a basket or box with: note cards, note paper, postcards, envelopes, letter opener, fancy pen, personal seal, sealing wax or sealing stickers, return address labels, address book, decorative rubber stamp and ink pad, commemorative stamps from the post office.
Gardening Theme Gifts
Place gardening items in a clay pot, watering can, window box planter, or a bucket. Include: gardening gloves, a set of hand tools, vegetable and flower seeds, rooting compound, kneeling pad or knee pads, gardening magazine, plant markers, hand cleaner or gardener’s soap, hand lotion.
Cat Lover Gift Basket
Nestle treats in a cat bed, such as: catnip mouse, cat treats, cat brush, scratching post, gourmet cat food, food bowl, cat toys.
Dog Lover Gift Basket
Use a dog bowl or pet bed with: packaged bone, dog biscuits, pull toy, chase toy, dog shampoo, collar and leash; if the dog is a pedigree breed, include a book about that breed as well.
Photographer’s Gift Basket
Fill a camera bag with: film or memory card, lens cleaner, lens cloth, photo print paper, photo frame, picture album.
Grandparent’s Gift Basket
Place in a wicker basket or reusable container: children’s art work, scrapbook, homemade gifts from the children, homemade Christmas ornaments, family movies, packages of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate, long-distance phone card, note cards and stamps, family photos in matted cards or frames, fleece blanket.
Line a pretty basket with linen and fill with: homemade or bakery-bought bread sticks, bread rolls and bread; add packages of croutons, breadcrumbs, melba toast, flat breads and gourmet crackers.
Home Maintenance Gift Basket:
Stock a tool box with: a screwdriver set; vice grip pliers, hammer, measuring tape; miscellaneous nails, screws, washers, and picture hangers; carpenter’s glue, duct tape, and double-sided tape; adhesive hooks, felt furniture pads (to prevent chair legs from scratching floors), light bulbs and paint brushes. If desired, add a gift certificate for a local hardware store.
Pick up a basket in seasonal colors and add: holiday motif paper napkins, paper plates and paper cups; can of mixed nuts; bag of mixed nuts and nutcracker; homemade or store-bought holiday cookies; packages of microwave popcorn; floral picks or holiday ornaments; cheese ball and crackers.
These homemade theme basket suggestions are meant as a starting point only, so do allow yourself some room for creativity. Adding a few non-essential, quirky items, as well as obvious theme ideas, just adds to the fun, and the memorability, of your well-chosen gift.
Rounding Things Out – Basket Fillers
Chances are, you’re going to need some cushioning or filler material to round out the contents of your theme gift basket. Fillers have a two-fold purpose – they fill up extra spaces, thereby preventing things from shifting around too much, and they also add some color and substance.
Some common packing materials for gift baskets include: scrap fabric, cotton towels or linen napkins, shredded paper, packing peanuts (or real peanuts), cellophane, Easter basket grass, tissue paper or newspaper comics, raffia, cedar or other aromatic wood shavings.
Extras are little items that you can add to your gift even if they don’t fit in with your exact theme. Such items are generally universal in nature, meaning most people will appreciate receiving and using them.
Extras for a Christmas Basket
Tuck in some candy canes, candles, ornaments, decorations, seasonal picks; seasonal greenery, such as sprigs or boughs of spruce, pine or cedar; pine cones, cinnamon sticks, or Christmas potpourri; a Christmas music CD, or a classic holiday movie.
Extras for Any Occasion
Pack in around your main gifts: packages of herbal tea bags, gourmet coffee, hot chocolate, spiced tea, or hot cider spices. Add: oranges (naval, mandarin, or clementine), tangerines, or apples; mixed nuts, in the shell, or packages of shelled nuts; wrapped candies or mini-chocolate bars; sample bottles of shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitizer or hand cream; lip gloss or lip balm; small toys or puzzles.
Wrapping Things Up
Invest in some rolls of colored cellophane and some curling ribbon to cover most theme baskets or containers. The effect is professional and classy without being overblown. If your gift is too big for this (such as a tool box or picnic basket), then let the container be the cover – but embellish it with a wide wire-edged ribbon and a ribbon bow of generous proportions.