Tip: If you’re short on time, you can usually spend a little more money to get the personalized gift basket done faster. If you’re short on money, you can usually find a DIY workaround that fits in your budget.
Who Is It for?
The first step for unforgettable DIY gift basket ideas is thinking about the person you’re giving it to. You want to see their eyes light up with a true smile because they see things they really want, arranged in a presentation that’s really impressive.
Make It Appropriate to the Relationship
A gift basket also has to reflect your relationship with the recipient. You don’t want to put anything in the DIY gift basket that will cause bad or weird feelings. Never give gifts that could embarrass or be misconstrued, especially in a business relationship. Be aware that your audience includes not just the recipient, but others who will be around. This can be especially problematic if you’re shipping the DIY gift basket or delivering it to an office.
Be Aware of Diet Restrictions
People love goodies in gift baskets, but you have to be aware of any diet restrictions your recipient may have. Allergies can be a big deal, and more people are avoiding sugar and gluten than ever.
Although wine and beer are popular in gift baskets, they aren’t good if your recipient doesn’t drink.
What if you don’t know the person well?
If you don’t know much about a person, work with what you do know. You can get a lot of DIY gift basket from a single interest like golf or movies.
Tip: If you don’t know anything about the recipient, focus on the holiday, occasion, or season.
What’s the Occasion?
Even if you’re theming the custom gift basket to a specific interest of the recipient, it’s easy—and attractive—to throw in a few references to the occasion. It may be as simple as the color of the ribbons, or you may want to incorporate holiday items into the basket itself.
Holiday theming is easy because craft and discount stores stock a lot of inexpensive themed items that can be used for flourishes, at least for major holidays and occasions. These are often stocked early or year-round so you can get a jump on your basket.
Pick the Basket
Pick a basket that’s appropriately sized. If it’s too big, it’ll be cumbersome and expensive to fill. Choose one that’s got a good depth to it, and preferably sides are straight up and down—that will help keep big items stable. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a basket: finding a fun container can really make the “basket.”
Tip: Thrift stores and garage sales are great places to get unique “baskets.” They can also save you money. But they’re not reliable, so keep a lookout for these and buy them when they strike your fancy. You’ll be kicking yourself later if the perfect occasion comes along and you can’t get that “basket” anymore. That’s what your attic/basement/garage is for, right?
Pick the Fillings
Go for a mix of foods and durable items. People always appreciate food and drink, but it’s nice for them to have something to remember the basket by when they’ve eaten all the goodies, like a monogrammed coffee mug.
You want to get a mix of sizes, too. This not only helps with packing, it gives visual texture. And it can help control your budget.
You also want a mix of colors. Holiday themed packages of M&Ms and other candies can really help the basket feel festive, but avoid the trap of making everything the same color. You want people’s eyes to dance over the basket, picking out all the lovely items.
Tip: You can make regular grocery store foods look fancy by removing them from their original packaging and putting them in a cello bag tied with a ribbon. This can also help make them fit—settling that occurs in shipping is wasted space in your basket!
And if you don’t like the look of something like a bottle of wine, a monogrammed wine tote might look better.
Arranging the Basket
Most gift baskets you buy are designed to be seen from one side, but you can design your DIY gift basket so that the recipient can turn the basket around and around and keep discovering new delights.
No matter how you’re arranging your basket, start by putting the largest items in first, putting them either in the back or in the center. Then fill in the smaller stuff around. Make sure you put enough packing under items so they don’t disappear into the basket—making all the good stuff visible is key to a successful DIY gift basket.
Wrapping the Basket
Once everything is in the, you probably want to wrap your DIY gift basket so that everything stays in place. Even if you’re delivering the basket in person, this can help with presentation.
Shrink wrap is an easy way to wrap the basket. You just put it in the shrink bag, close the bag with a tie, and apply from a hair dryer to make the wrapping shrink.
Tip: Be careful with the heat. Popular gift items like chocolate can melt!
Cellophane can be harder to handle, but it gives a very distinct appearance to your DIY gift basket. It’s glossier than shrink wrap and the texture of the folds makes it glitter when it’s being moved.
A nice compromise is the cellophane bag. It’s got the same luster as flat cellophane, but it’s easier to handle. Just put the personalized gift basket in the bag, then gather it at the top.
Now that you’ve got your basket wrapped, it’s all done, right?
Wrong! There’s lots of opportunities for adding personal touches outside the wrapping.
Ribbons are a bare minimum for finishing your basket. A simple ribbon tied at the top of the wrapping then curled with scissors makes a nice, understated touch.
Bows can make a big splashy appearance. You can save time by buying bows, but they’re expensive. Making your bows from large ribbon takes a little while to master, but once you’ve got it down, you’ll find it saves you money and makes a more personal touch.
Tip: Resist the urge to buy themed ribbons. They can be perfect for the one occasion, but you’ll get better mileage out of ribbons if you buy straight colored ribbons.
Another nice touch is turning the top of the basket into a bouquet. Insert fake flowers, seasonal stems, or even candy bar bouquets into the bunched area of the cellophane.
Many people like tying something to the ribbons that can dangle off the side for some extra visual interest.
Tip: Doing all of the above can turn your basket into a cluttery mess! Put these extra touches on with care and don’t overwhelm the basket.
Shipping the Basket
If your basket is going to be shipped, you may have to change what goes in it. Make sure all the contents can be shipped—liquids and alcohol are often restricted. Be especially careful with international shipping. Also consider that shipping takes time and you don’t want anything to spoil.
Make sure the basket is tightly wrapped. Nothing should move when you shake the basket or hold it upside-down. This is when shrink wrap definitely has the edge over cellophane.
Get a good, sturdy box for it to go in. Then make sure that it’s adequately padded. Styrofoam peanuts or a more eco-friendly alternative work well to help cushion the basket.
Whether you’re giving the basket in person or shipping it away, a personalized gift basket is sure to be appreciated if you take care to do it right.