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For me, the fun of Christmas is really in choosing and giving presents. I keep a running wishlist for myself and I've heard that I ruin everyone else's plans by getting myself what I want or need throughout the year as money permits. LOL I hate the thought of someone fretting over what to get me, but I adore fretting over what to get everyone else! So, I want to share with you one of my favorite gifts to give - one that combines the feel of something handmade and personal with the ease of store-bought, all on a thrifty budget!
I started making gift baskets when my kids were younger and our school would hold trivia night fundraisers that included raffle baskets. Each classroom would be assigned a theme and, as a head room parent, I was responsible for gathering donations and coming up with the basket. Some of the donations were spot-on, but some were obviously last minute grabs from the back of the linen closet, with no concern as to whether they fit the theme or not. It was then that I got pretty creative in finding a common thread in all the items, no matter how convoluted!
That basket above is my Bookworm's Basket. This is one I created for the fundraiser, but I've recreated the theme in different sizes for gifts since then. This basket included books, of course, but also magazines, two books for children, a book bag, 2 Dollar Store coffee cups, Dollar Store candles and candle holders, a book stand, a book light from the Dollar Store, a notebook that could double as a reading journal, and a fleece throw that was on clearance at Target. The basket itself was a magazine holder that didn't match my décor (yes, I re-gifted it. I am a big proponent of re-gifting. I like to think of it as giving a great item a better home!) For those who have an eReader, be sure to include a gift card for a book store or Amazon! Basically, if you can use it while reading a book, it goes into the basket.
This is another basket I created for the fundraiser, but I have scaled it back a little for gift giving, as well. This was the Ice Cream Social basket and it was a big hit. The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker was the big attraction, but it was another re-gift that had seen the light of day only once and had been put back in the box. (This time it wasn't me doing the re-gifting. LOL) The Dollar Store again was a treasure trove of items - everything from glass dessert bowls to milkshake glasses to fountain spoons. An assortment of ice cream toppings, cookies, candies, cones, a Tupperware ice cream scoop (one of the best available, if you ask me), and a book on entertaining rounded out the contents. The basket was a simple cardboard tote I picked up at the grocery store and wrapped with colorful wrapping paper.
TIP: Thrift stores, dollar stores, and stores like Big Lots are great resources to start with, especially if you are really wanting to include a high-dollar item, but on a pocket-change budget. Make a list of baskets you'd like to make, keep it with you, and then, when you are out shopping, pick up small items wherever you find them!
Here are some of the basket ideas I've made over the years. (Unfortunately, since I didn't know I was going to become a blogger, I didn't take pictures of all of them. LOL But, I did find some Pinterest inspiration for you below!)
The Hometown Swag gift basket
The picture I found on Pinterest, but this is a basket theme I've created several times over the years. With family visiting from overseas and other family members living out of town, this is a fun basket to make for Christmas or as a welcome gift for visitors. Simply get together postcards, magnets, specialty food items, tourist-y things like coffee cups, tour guides, etc. If you are doing a welcome gift, include some tickets or coupons for local attractions. My favorite thing to include is a small photo album of pictures with family and friends.
Future Great Artist gift basket
Again, the picture is from Pinterest, but I've made up this basket on the cheap for several budding artists in our family or that I've babysat. The Dollar Store is a great source for finding great little tins and totes for the basket and I like to include crayons, erasers, colored pencils, sketchbooks, how-to-draw books, and also little figurines they can use as models, modeling clay, etc. I like to grab an inexpensive tool smock, such as you might find at The Home Depot, and put that in, too. While this basket in the pictures is very child-centric, I actually prefer to make mine as adult-feeling as possible, so the child feels like you consider them to be a real artist. Include a cute Dollar Store picture frame so they can frame their artwork!
Gardener's gift basket
This is another favorite! The picture is from Pinterest, but I've created similar baskets a few times myself. For the basket, I use either a tool bag or a decorative pot and fill it with easy-to-care for plant seeds, trowels, gloves, a cushioned kneeling pad, a sun visor, plant food sticks, gardening books, clippers, cute garden markers, etc.
Wine Lovers gift basket
This is always a hit and is a great choice for anyone who you aren't sure of their interests. This picture is from Pinterest, but I've made a ton of these and combined them with The Hometown Swag basket, because Missouri actually has local wineries. Include a variety of wines, a corkscrew, Dollar Store wine glasses, a nutcrackers and nuts, some gourmet chocolates, a book on wines, and maybe some cute wine glass charms. If the gift is for a couple, add a romantic movie on DVD and they have an instant date-night basket!
Honestly, the list of ideas you can turn into a gift basket is almost endless:
- Learn to Cook - kitchen essentials, spices, and a handmade family recipe book
- Laundry - great for a teen heading off to college. Include an instruction sheet for how to wash all different types of items
- Tea Time - tea pots, cups, tea balls, tea biscuits, assortment of teas
- Coffee Lover's - travel mugs, flavored instant coffee assortments, gift cards for coffee shops, etc.
- Cupcake Lover's - everything you need to bake delicious cupcakes
- House Warming / Newlyweds - all the little stuff you didn't realize you needed when you moved into your first house - nails, extension cords, gift cards for hardware stores, etc.
- Couple's Massage - books on massage, massage oil, scented candles - make sure of your recipient, though! LOL
- Chocolate Lover's
- Health Food - cooking utensils, recipes, dry food items, gift cards
- Commuter's Care Kit - headphones, neck pillows, puzzle books, iTunes cards, favorite snacks, travel mugs,
- Inner Child - vintage candies & toys for the nostalgic person on your list
- Movie Night - DVDs, popcorn, movie candy, popcorn holders,
- Cookies In A Jar assortment - use Mason jars and fill with premeasured dry ingredients to different cookie recipes. Label each jar with cookie type and include a handmade corresponding recipe book.
- Pet Lover's - treats, toys, books, picture frame, and keepsakes for the pet lover on your list
- BBQ Lover's
- The Big Game (for Men) - Snacks and memorabilia from his favorite team
- Learn To Sew - all the basic sewing essentials, with a beginner's pattern and book. Don't forget to include the materials for the pattern!
- Crafting - if you have a crafter, try to include all the little items they constantly have to replenish for their favorite craft
- Girls Are Handy, Too - like the Housewarming basket, include basic tools and items to empower a girl on her own!
I'm telling you, if someone has an interest or a need, you can make a basket for it! And, the chances are, you can do it on the cheap!
Have you made a particularly unique gift basket for someone? Please share your ideas in the Comments section!