Secrets of building a great gift basket

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, October 11, 2012

(ARA) – Giving a great gift basket is like bestowing a buffet of gifts on your loved one, and when the well-put-together gift basket is opened, well, that’s a magical moment. Beneath the pretty decorations lie enchanting mysteries that emerge one-by-one to the delight of the recipient.

The personal aspects of a gift basket are also endearing. You can customize a gift basket to the occasion (holiday, birthday, retirement, etc.) and tastes of the recipient, and taking the time to do so shows your thoughtfulness and caring. Building a great gift basket can be fun and easy. The gift experts at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store offer some advice for putting together a gift basket that will charm any recipient:

The first steps

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Begin by deciding what to put in the gift basket – packaged food, gourmet coffees, collegiate items, apparel, candles, personal care items like soaps or lotions, cooking utensils, books, jewelry, home decor items, gardening tools, ornaments, picture frames, etc. Practically any hobby or area of interest can be an inspiration for a gift basket. Base your choice on the recipient’s personality and interests.

Next, choose a container. Baskets, of course, are the classic container, but don’t overlook other options, especially if they fit the overall theme you’ve chosen. For example, load a toy football helmet with items inspired by his favorite football team. A large stockpot can be ideal for holding cooking utensils for a foodie or budding chef. A planter makes a useful and decorative container for gardening tools.

Arranging items

Once you’ve chosen the perfect container, think about how you’ll arrange the items that go in it. First, add some decorative shredding (available in craft stores, or make your own with colored paper and a paper shredder) to help stabilize items in the container and make it look even more attractive. Then, follow these rules of thumb for arranging items:

* Place tallest items in the back. If you’re using a round container, choose a side to serve as a visual “back.”

* Moving forward, stair step the rest of your items from tall to short. It’s OK if the rows are not perfectly straight or even. In fact, a little variance in the arrangement will make the basket look even more appealing.

* Be sure to place packaged items with the most interesting side facing forward so it’s immediately visible. For example, if you’ve included a bag of the recipient’s favorite coffee, make sure the brand name is showing so he or she will be able to tell at a glance what’s in the basket.

* Be careful not to completely hide any items. It’s fine to have things peeping through here or there, but avoid burying anything on the bottom. Buried items could potentially get lost and tossed out with the shredding.

* If you need to hold items in place, secure them using some glue lines or glue dots (also available in craft stores.) Fitting everything snugly is the key.

The finishing touches

Once your basket is artfully filled, place the entire container in a large cellophane bag. Gather the bag above the contents of the basket, then tie a bow at the narrowest part of the gathered bag. For smaller containers, pull the corners of the bag under the container and tape them. Trim any excess bag at the top.

You can either hand-deliver your gift basket – which gives you the instant gratification of seeing the surprise and happiness on your loved one’s face – or ship it if that’s more convenient and practical. When shipping, be sure to package your basket securely. If you purchase a gift basket at Cracker Barrel, they will pack it for you at no extra cost and you just pay the actual shipping fee.

If creating a gift basket yourself is not your cup of tea – or if you prefer to have an expert handle the job – the gift gurus at Cracker Barrel can do it for you based on your specifications. Visit to learn more.