Saturday, April 04, 2009

What makes for a great gift basket?

Whether you are shopping online or building your own basket at home, there are a few elements that will help you find or make an inviting and indulgent package.

Complementary Variety:
You want your recipient to experience nibbles of flavors, colors and textures. However, variety can sometimes be overwhelming and subtract from the overall experience. Think of elements in the basket as part of a story. If you are building a wine and cheese basket, try adding grapes, a wine opener, crackers, cocktail napkins, olives and dried apricots. Elements in basket should help the recipient create a complete experience. If you are doing a chocolate basket, try adding other types of fun candy to the mix: sour lemon, gummi bears or toffee pops. Candy in a range of flavors, shapes and mood add dimension to the gift.   

A simply weaved basket without adornments displays an old-fashion sense of sincerity. Baskets come in a variety of sizes. Tiny two inch oval ones filled with cherries or candy are small and sweet. Nantucket baskets always make a refined statement. Just make sure you find one that's slightly smaller than the contents you have for it; this way you can pack everything snugly without any items swimming around in space.

When I walk into a store for a gift basket, I normally look around to see how things are displayed first before I even check out what is in the basket. If there is someone there packing on the spot, you might want to spend a few minutes observing the process.

Just like gourmet food, how something looks is equally important to how it tastes. A good basket has some stuffing in the bottom but doesn't disappoint with the quantity of goodies. You will find larger filler items forming a frame around one side of  the basket, in front of which elements of the story unfolds. If it is a christmas basket, you will normally find a box of chocolates in the back, followed by tins of tea, jam, ginger bread cookies, ginger bread house, stollen, cheese and crackers. The display is above the rim of the basket and gradual from back to front. There is always a focal point around which everythings sits softly but securely.

Later this week, we are going to explore ideas for home-made gift baskets...stay tuned!

Do you make your own? For what occasion and what do you put in it?