Basket weaving is one of the oldest crafts of human civilization. According to scholars, one of the earliest accounts of a gift coming in a basket is in the story of the pagan goddess Eostre, who carried a basket of young plants to be used as a sacred offering. Although the act of giving gifts in baskets is an old tradition, it has evolved greatly over time to meet the needs of our ever-changing society. Today, the largest amount of gift baskets are sold and given away during popular holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day. Most gift baskets today include one or more of the following ingredients: chocolate, coffee and tea, fruit, brownies, cookies, candy, meat, cheeses, and other gourmet items. The following infographic offers more information on gift basket trends and essentials, and also includes a helpful guide on how to assemble the perfect gift basket for your next holiday gift giving party.
Holiday Gift Baskets 101
Origins of Gift Baskets
The knowledge of weaving baskets is one of the oldest crafts of human civilization. The oldest known basket was dated to be between 10,000 and 12,000 years old. One of the earliest accounts of a gift coming in a basket is in the story of the pagan goddess Eostre and the basket of young plants she carried to be used as a sacred offering – some scholars argue this is the origin of the Easter basket. One of the first recorded uses of a basket is in the Old Testament when Moses’ mother places him in a wicker basket as an infant. Early baskets were used for carrying and transporting fruit, grain, nuts, and other goods.
Famous Gift Basket Quotes
“It is far better to give a gift basket than receive one” – Benjamin Franklin
“Then I go out at night to paint the stars and send everyone I know a gift basket.” – Vincent van Gogh
“Creativity is more important than intelligence. Sending a gift basket is both creative and intelligent” – Albert Einstein
“I like fruit baskets because it gives you the ability to mail someone a piece of fruit without appearing insane. Like, if someone just mailed you an apple you’d be like “Huh?” but if it’s in a basket you’re like “Nice.”” – Demetri Martin
Gift Basket Popularity
The largest volume of gift baskets are sold during holiday periods and are also often holiday themed. The three most popular holidays for gift baskets are Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. Easter and Thanksgiving are also very popular. Other special occasions in which gift baskets are given include: weddings, graduation, baby showers, retirement, starting college. Popular themes include: spa/bath/relaxation, get well soon, summer/fun-in-the-sun
Popular items typical found in gift baskets include: chocolate, especially when paired with tea or coffee; fruit (it is hugely popular, both as filler items and as entire fruit baskets), gourmet items, and brownies, cookies, and candy.
The gift basket industry is worth about $3.3 billion annually in the U.S.Gift baskets are part of the larger ‘gift industry’ worth over $200 billion a year. Sales of food gifts were up 9.6% between 2007 and 2009 and were one of the few areas of gifting that continued to expand despite the economic downturn (possibly because of its practical and useful nature).
Tips For Creating a Gift Basket
Theme – Choosing a theme may be the single most important step as it can determine everything else in the gift basket. If you are creating it for a person, your “theme” can become more about catering to things they like and use.
Container – The gift basket does not have to be literally a basket. You can also use a picnic basket, storage containers, a reusable shopping tote, card boxes, and so on, or something unique that fits the theme, like a baby carrier for baby shower gift basket, laundry basket for an off to college basket, a large pot for housewarming gift basket, etc. You can also choose something very small for a smaller gift or when giving out many favors, like a large mug with just a handful of small items in it—just make sure the basket will fit all of your items.
Filling – Save money with newspaper, recycled bags, or other recycled soft materials, and cover it with nicer looking tissue paper or cellophane. If you want to give something very special, or if it’s appropriate for the theme, you can use something that is a gift in and of itself as the filling, like bath towels for a housewarming basket, or a baby blanket for a baby shower basket.
Items – Choose items to fill out the basket related to your theme. Choose 3-5 “big” items – They can be literally big or simply more expensive. Pick a variety of “small” items to fill out the basket
Ribbon – To tie up the wrapping, you can purchase a bow to finish off the decoration. You can also use wide or wired ribbon to create a separate big bow to personalize the gift basket, and match the theme.
Wrapping – Cellophane is used most often, but you can also get creative with tissue paper, bubble wrap, etc. You can buy a roll of cellophane or purchase a package of cellophane bags for making gift baskets.
Gift Tag – Add a small tag or card to the outside of the basket so you can write a small personal message to the person you are giving the basket to.
How to Create the Basket
Start in the center of the basket and work your way out, putting in your bigger items first. Fill in other, smaller items until you are satisfied with the arrangement. Measure out your cellophane or other wrapping by holding the basket in the center of the laid out wrapping and bringing it up over the basket to make sure you have enough extra wrapping to tie it up at the top. Once you are sure you have enough, you can cut the wrapping. If not, you can continue to roll out a bit more until you find the right size. Gather the wrapping up to the top over the center of the basket. You can use ribbon to tie it or tape it first and then tie it up with ribbon. There will be sections of the cellophane that won’t gather up to the center. You can tuck one side of the sections into the basket and then fold over the other side to mask the hole. You can tape it there or, if long enough, continue to fold the wrapping down the basket and tape it on the bottom. For an added decorative look, you can gather the cellophane above the ribbon and cut it an angle to the center from either side to taper it and allow it to fan out beautifully.
Optional Garnishes & Personalization
Consider using fun colors or layers of different colors for your filling or wrapping to match the theme. You can add confetti, small ribbons, sparkly tinsel, artificial flowers, stickers, tufts of tissues paper, etc. in between your items to help fill out and decorate the basket. Instead of ribbon, you can use something that fits the theme of the basket, such as twine for something more outdoorsy like a gift basket for fishing or tools. You can also tie things from the ribbon, like flowers, buttons, a pacifier for a baby gift basket, or ornaments for a holiday basket. If you’re including a gift card, you can make it more fun by including something related to the card, like putting a Starbucks gift card in a mug or empty Starbucks cup.