Themed gift baskets make amazing, affordable, and memorable gifts. The key is to pick the items carefully and to pay attention to the presentation. Here is a complete list of our very favorite gift basket ideas for everyone on your list, plus money-saving tips and tricks on assembling DIY gift baskets!
Who likes getting gift baskets during the holidays? The better question is: Who doesn't?! The best gift baskets are the ones filled with stuff we love. The problem with lots of gift basket ideas, however, is the expense. Costs can rack up quickly when you fill a big, beautiful basket with a little of this and a little of that. When all is said and done, that stuffed basket might blow your Christmas gift-giving budget to the moon. There are, however, some Christmas and holiday gift basket ideas that are actually budget-friendly, thanks to our DIY natures and some really great tutorials floating around on the internet.
How to Choose a Basket
Before we get started, let's talk about the baskets. The single most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a basket is size. Remember, a big basket is going to cost more to fill, and if you choose not to fill it, then it looks sad and you look cheap (Seriously. It does. You do.). A better rule to live by is 'smaller basket filled largely.' When choosing a basket, always opt for smaller rather than larger.They're less expensive to fill, and a big basket scantily-filled looks sad. The better option is to go with a small basket and fill it to the gills.
Opt for Inexpensive Baskets
Okay, so you've decided to go smaller with your basket choice, but even those can be expensive. The trick is to find good-and cheap -alternatives. Here are some that come to mind:
- Wrap the bottom and inside sides of a sturdy cardboard box with pretty wrapping paper and use that as your 'basket'. I'd opt for square boxes, like the ones in which flowers are delivered, as the shape feels more suited to the task.
- Re-gift from past gift baskets. Don't worry; nobody is going to know. Unless you re-gift to the giver, and that's just tacky.
- Check thrift shops for acceptable, structurally sound baskets that can be given new life with a shot of spray paint.
Be sure to use the basket best suited for the occasion. If you're making a Christmas gift basket, for example, use an appropriate material for the holiday.
Useful and Utilitarian Baskets
We mentioned using cardboard boxes wrapped with pretty paper for a basket to keep costs down, as well as re-using gift baskets and thrift store baskets that can be given new life with a shot of spray paint. All still great gift basket ideas, but it started us thinking about more utilitarian objects we could use for baskets. You know, baskets that have further purpose:
- Metal paint bucket, $2.97 at Home Depot
- 6 or 8″ terra cotta clay pots, $1.32 also at Home Depot
- Small storage bin, like this one at Target for $1.99
- Small 2-quart bucket, like this set of 4 on Amazon for $18.72
- Metal colander, like this one from Kirklands for $5.99
Which Filler to Use in a Gift Basket?
As for filler, we still really like the idea of used paper straight out of the shredder. To make it more interesting, run a couple of colorful sheets from an old magazine through the shredder to mix in with the mundane stuff!
If you don't have time to shred paper, you can purchase gift basket filler in bulk online, or at your local craft store.
DIY Gift Basket Kits
Don't have time to gather all the supplies for your gift basket ideas? That's okay! You can purchase pre-assembled gift basket kits, complete with cellophane and filler. Click here to check it out.
Perfect for Raffles or Silent Auctions
Gift baskets make great presents for coworkers. Or friends. Or those impossible-to-buy-for people on your list. Okay, they're great for pretty much everyone. So don't just think about using gift baskets for the holidays! These are great prizes for raffles (think: school, church or neighborhood fundraisers) or as things for people to bid on at silent auctions.
Here's What to Put in Your Gift Basket
Check the vast majority of pre-packaged gift baskets out there and you'll see they have something in common: a lot of the stuff in them was made in some other far-flung land. (My apologies to all those in far-flung landers). For our budget-friendly gift basket ideas, we will be including things made with our own hands. Not only will this save us heaps of dough, it will also increase the points on the thoughtful scale as registered by the receiver.
We've broken these homemade gift ideas into a few sub-categories. Stuff for her, stuff for him, and gift basket ideas for anybody.
Let's get started!
Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Everyone
Spa Basket – This gift basket idea is perfect for that friend who needs a good excuse to relax. Fill it with loofahs, body washes, bath gels, candles, and a succulent for a pretty finishing touch. Head over to Style Me Pretty for more ideas.
Color-Themed Kitchen Basket – Stick with two or three colors and make sure to add a personalized piece like the gorgeous monogrammed dish towel in this basket.
Pancake Gift Basket – This might be my favorite… all the things you need to make a delicious pancake breakfast, complete with blueberry syrup. Go for store-bought pancake mix, or make your own (chocolate chips, anyone?). Also could include regular maple syrup, coffee beans, and fresh fruit. Check out the details here.
Do-It-Yourself Cheese Board Basket – Everyone loves cheese. Click here to find out how to make a vintage-inspired cheese basket.
DIY Movie Night Basket – DVDs, popcorn and candy… what could be better?! Wrap it in cellophane and add a big red bow to make it extra pretty. Here are the details.
Girls' Night In A Basket – This is a fun one… fill a basket with magazines, nail polish, bath gel, lotion and other relaxing goodies for the girlie girl on your list. Check out the original post here.
Pasta Dinner Basket – Buy (or make!) a good bottle of marinara, some high quality spaghetti and a nice bottle of olive oil… and don't forget the red wine! Read more about this gift basket idea here.
Margarita Basket – Pair a bottle of tequila with a good margarita mixer, and add a couple of limes and a yellow citrus juicer. Beautiful! This gift crate goes above and beyond by including a little lime tree, but we'll let you decide if that's excessive or not. More info can be found here.
Hot Chocolate Gift Basket – This is the perfect gift to keep your friends warm on those chilly winter nights. Create a gift basket for one with a single packet of cocoa mix, or put together a basket for a crowd by adding extra supplies. Check out the full tutorial here.
Perfect Morning Gift Basket – Make a “Your Perfect Morning” basket filled with ground coffee, a mug, reading materials, breakfast snacks, etc. Read more about it here.
BBQ Basket – Here's a fun gift basket idea… fill a box with handmade BBQ sauce and a delicious rub mix. Here are the recipes.
Gardener's Gift Basket – For the friend in your life with a green thumb… new gardening gloves, a watering can and a pretty plant to tide them over until spring. Read more here.
Happy Hour Basket – A bottle of wine, unique glasses, a pretty tea towel, a baguette, grapes and other snacks are perfect for this one. Read more here.
Beer Lover's Basket – Assemble this one according to the recipient's taste; stick with domestic beer if that's what they usually drink, or go with a mix of unusual craft beers if they like to try new things. Check out more good ideas here.
Fresh Popcorn Gift Box – Similar to the Movie Night basket! You can use popcorn boxes as the “basket” for this fun little gift, and throw in some homemade seasoning mix. Find details here.
Soup Basket – You've probably seen the soup-in-a-jar idea, but why not take it a step further and include everything needed for a soup-tastic meal? Add a pair of cute bowls, spoons, and some artisan bread, and don't forget the recipe to cook the soup!
Breakfast For Two – This one has to be made right before, but it will be worth it… the recipient is sure to love it! Click here to read up on what to put in a “Breakfast in Bed Basket.”
Coffee Lover's Basket – This gift basket idea is super fun. Combine K-cups, vanilla syrup, and delicious biscotti for a coffee lover's dream gift. Check out the instructions (and free printable tags) here.
Winter Weekend Escape Basket – Make a wintry weekend escape basket filled with a deck of cards, a cozy blanket, and hot cocoa. Check out the tutorial here.
Moscow Mule in a Box – And last but not least – a cocktail kit! Find all the information you need here.
Gift Basket Ideas for Women – What to Include in a Gift Basket for a Female Friend
If you aren't keen on the idea of a themed basket, and are looking for gift basket ideas for a female friend, coworker, or relative, here are some things you could include. We're linking out to the DIY-version of these gift basket items, but you could just as easily purchase them if you're in a rush:
- Lip gloss or balm: Try this method that's tinted with raspberries, or this super-easy 3-ingredient recipe.
- Lotion bars: This simple recipe looks like white chocolate peanut butter cups!
- Bath bombs: Although a little more involved than the previous ideas, this fizzy bath bomb recipe sounds delightful both to make and give (there are other great all-natural recipes in this article, too!).
- Bath bonbons: If fizzy isn't your thing, than this recipe for lavender and coconut oil bath bonbons sounds divine.
- Custom perfume: We won't fail as miserably as Schmidt if we follow this recipe for homemade solid perfume.
- Coconut milk shampoo: This unique recipe sounds absolutely decadent.
- Sugar or salt scrub: The great thing about a DIY sugar scrub is you can give it any scent you like! Care2 has some GREAT recipes for sugar scrubs–all sound good enough to eat.! For salt scrubs, this selection from Tipnut is nice and informative.
- Bath salts: Tipnut has a nice variety of how-tos, plus scent ideas. When you make bath salts, be sure to make several cups, so there will be enough for several gift baskets.
- Oatmeal soap: Handmade soap is a sweet and thoughtful gift, but even more so when you make it yourself!
- A bath pouf: For crocheters, check out this darling pattern for a pouf. For knitters, check out this bath mitt pattern.
- A candle: All “pampering” gift baskets should include a candle–even if it's just a tea light. For a super easy but lovely tea light holder, check out this old tutorial, or this tutorial for making concrete soy candles.
Gift Basket Ideas for Men – What to Include in a Gift Basket for a Guy
So, you need to put together a gift basket for a male friend? Here are our best dude-inspired gift basket ideas. We're linking out to the DIY-version of these gift basket items, but you could just as easily purchase them if you're restricted by time:
- Cuticle cream: Although most recipes for cuticle cream are targeted towards women, we're including it in the guys' column just to bring awareness to men's cuticle situation.
Hand cream: Again, this recipe for hand butter could be for her, but we like it for him. Especially “hims” that work with their hands.
After shave spray or splash: Sandalwood and sweet orange…sounds good enough to eat, huh? These recipes are strictly an aftershave treat. Note the inexpensive cucumber recipe!
- Bath salts: For guys who like to take a long soak in the tub, this mountain man bath salt recipe sounds like a great way to unwind.
- Coffee soap: Made from used coffee grounds, Popsugar says their recipe not only exfoliates but it deodorizes the skin as well.
- Peppermint foot soak: If the guys on your shopping list haven't experienced a good peppermint foot soak for their pooped puppies, it's time. This super easy recipe is a perfect way to introduce the practice.
- Shaving cream: This is a real treat – all-natural, homemade shaving cream, which surprisingly isn't made of any hard-to-pronounce or exotic ingredients!
- After shave salve: For that guy with dry skin, try this recipe for coconut/shea butter salve. I'm guessing it would be great for calloused hands and fingers too (there's also a recipe for Apple Cider after shave on this page).
- Bath mitt: Martha tells us how to make a super easy bath mitt for the guy who shuns the puff (a nice accompaniment would be to include a bar of the coffee soap listed above).
- Reed diffusers: Guys seem to gravitate to diffusers more than to potpourri, which is why a DIY reed diffuser would be a great addition to a guy's gift box. I'd scrounge in the recycling bin here too and look for a tall, medium-sized, capped glass bottle in which to put the tincture. Then I'd tie the reeds/bamboo skewers to the bottle with some jute to keep them tidy until they're ready to use.
Gift Basket Ideas for Everyone – What to Include in a Gift Basket that Anyone Will Love
If you're trying to put together a gift basket for someone that you know nothing about, the most sure-fire solution is to go with food! Everyone loves a sweet or savory treat, and you can't go wrong with a DIY gift basket filled with some of these goodies. Again, these links are to the DIY-version of these gift basket ideas, but you could just as easily purchase them if you're dealing with a time crunch:
- Flavored coffee, teas, & cocoas: All Recipes has a yummy sounding Flavored Cappuccino Mix, Mocha Coffee Mix and something called Gunline Coffee that gets seriously good reviews.
- Dipping spoons: Dipping spoons are especially good for those cocoa and coffee mixes. They can be made in a variety of flavors – a drop of peppermint oil would be a delicious treat! DIY dipping spoons can go on disposable cutlery, of you could use inexpensive spoons from the thrift store.
- Biscotti: Martha has some incredible recipes for coffee's best friend, biscotti. They're festive enough to be included in your DIY holiday goodie basket!
- Turtles: A little bag of super simple pretzel turtles are a must for the DIY food basket (I've made these several times and they're fab).
- Acorn cookies: These chocolate and peanut butter acorns are a new find for us, but they are sure to be a perennial favorite and another great addition to gift baskets everywhere.
- Hot chocolate mix: We know. This isn't an earth-shattering idea, BUT this recipe for Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix sounds swoon-worthy.
- Hot chocolate sticks: No, they're not stir-sticks for hot chocolate. They're solid hot chocolate mix on a stick!
- Mints: Cream cheese turned into homemade holiday mints? Yes, please.
- Lemon drops: Fresh-squeezed lemon give authenticity to these homemade lemon drops.
- Fudge: But not just ANY fudge. This is Russian fudge, and it has Bailey's Irish Cream in it!! This recipe explains all and also gives a substitution for the Bailey's if you don't swing that way.
- Toffee: But not just ANY toffee. This is English toffee! And it looks delicious.
- Peppermint patties: These homemade peppermint patties are one of the easiest candies to make.
Money-Saving Tricks and Ideas for DIY Gift Baskets
Gift baskets are a wonderful solution to a gift-giving quandary, but are especially impressive when their assembly doesn't stretch the budget. Here are a few tips and tricks for you DIYers who are crafting most of the components in your gift baskets:
- Old jars: Bath salts, after shaves, balms, and the like are going to need containers. It doesn't hurt to take a peek in your recycling bin before you go out and buy all new jars. Salsa jars and other glass containers with a wide lid would be great for scrubs and balms, as they're easier for fingers to dip in. Bottles with smaller necks could be used for DIY reed diffusers. Read this article on how to remove jar labels and get rid of odors stuck in lids.
- New jars: If you'd rather use 'fresh' jars, two great sites to visit are SKS and The Jar Store. Both sell jars perfect for some of the projects mentioned in this post, but they're sold in cases of twelve. However, at a dollar or so a pop, that's a lot of gift basket gifts for not a lot of cash. Of course, many big grocery stores do carry small canning jars, which would be a good choice too.
- Bags: For packaging cookies, biscotti, and candies, bags are the way to go. A good resource is Creative Gift Packaging. Again, quantities are large, but the cost is still very low. For small quantities at a higher price, your local craft store is always a possibility too. I'd also recommend checking out the dollar section of Target, or the Dollar Store. And, of course, in a pinch there's always Ziploc.
- Pots and tins: For the personal items like lip balms, check the recycling bin. Altoids tins work for solid perfumes and lotion. A great online resource for cosmetic containers is SKS and the Jar Store.
- Wrapping: Any DIY gift basket looks luxe with a proper wrapping. Shrink wrap is a great option, and buying it on a roll is the most cost effective. Another option is to use inexpensive tulle to wrap the baskets. Tulle is cheap (as low as $0.79 a yard), and it comes in a variety of colors.