Wednesday, August 8, 2012

20 Gift Basket Ideas for every occasion...Thoughtful, Cheap and Awesome!

I adore gift baskets! Not only are they cost effective, they look beautiful and can be personalized to anyone. If you've been giving gift baskets for awhile, you can also add the materials to your stockroom list. You would essentially be making a gift stockroom when you see really good prices or bargains. For instance, this weekend starts the crazy back to school sales, now would be a good time to stock up on materials for the school basket. For more information on how I establish and maintain my home stockroom (or supply closet), click here.

Don't stock up unless you already have an established, working supply closet! This is kind of the advanced step and if you try to implement this first, you're going to have a lot of mismatched stuff in the back of a closet that you'll never see again until one day you decide to declutter and you throw it all out in defeat.

You can put gift baskets in anything, boxes from Costco covered in wrapping paper, shipping boxes if you plan to mail it out, organizing totes from the dollar store, baskets from Homegoods or TJ Maxx. Keep your eyes open and when you see a basket that's a great price, snap it up.

Don't give yourself free reign to purchase anything you want towards your gift closet. Either budget this in, $15.00 per month or count it into your grocery budget. We're normally below budget, so when you see a great bargain, scap it up and budget it into your groceries for the week. If you go nuts and buy every "bargain" that you see, your spending much more than you would if you just bought gifts as they came up.

This system makes it easy to budget in gifts. You're spreading the money out throughout the year so that there are no surprises. More importantly, you're saving time from having to search all over to find a gift last minute (often buying something that you wouldn't consider to be the perfect gift).

When I started giving gift baskets, I purchased an enormous roll of cellophane wrap from amazon to wrap the baskets in. I can then just tie off the tops with ribbon. The cellophane was a great investment for me and considering how much I've used it and how much I have left, I suspect that this will last til I'm 50:) You can get your very own giant roll of cellophane from Amazon for $23.00 by clicking here.

Always include a letter or a note with your basket. We have few opportunities in life to tell someone what they mean to us. About 20 times a day I look at someone or talk to someone and think about how much I adore that person's personality or how much I admire a particular trait of theirs. If we just took that rare opportunity to let them know, it would encourage them to keep being awesome.


1. Travel:

  • A toiletry bag of good quality.
  • A set of reusable plain bottles with vinyl labels (if you have a cricut or something similar, make your own labels).
  • A toothbrush and tooth paste holder (if you have basic sewing skills, you can make your own by clicking here.)
  • A hairbrush for a girl, a shaving kit for a guy
  • A monogrammed luggage tag.
  • Bubble bath!
  • Sleep mask.
  • Lavender potpourri (make this yourself by clicking here)

2. Best of "Virginia" (of wherever you happen to live):

  • Fill a basket with your local favorite products. For us, It's Virginia Diner Peanut selections, Dominion root beer, locally made honey, organic soap, Edwards or Smithfield hams, Route 11 potato chips, or even a dogwood tree if the recipient has a green thumb!

3. Welcome Baby!

  • Fill a basket with often overlooked helpful items to get mom and dad through that first week or two. Include a 15 minute dinner "recipe" and ingredients (you can even do a pantry meal so you don't have to refrigerate). If you have the option of delivering something cold, whip up an instant freezer casserole. Try this one for Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole by clicking here. I just assembled this and it took less than 3 minutes and the ingredients cost about $7.00 (with extra chicken thighs for your family!). I should warn you, our little guy doesn't arrive for another week or two so I'm not an expert on whats useful that first week for baby. But for Mom and Dad, I'm thinking food, snacks, sleep masks (I use one to sleep when Jon wants to keep the light on, I'm thinking it will help in trying to fall asleep at 2 in the afternoon), accessories to help with breastfeeding like cooling pads, nipple pads etc (make sure Mom's breastfeeding first, you wouldn't want to hurt someone's feelings with a gift).

4. Dinner and a Movie Night:

  • Find an old, amazing, but often overlooked movie. Be prepared to spend some time searching through Walmarts 5.00 movie pile. If there is a particular movie that you shared in the past, grab that one. I have tons of movie associations! Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my sister, Angus and Clueless with my Dad (he's clearly an awesome guy), The Cutting Edge and Dirty Dancing with my Mom, The Notebook with my friend Blake, (who is quite possibly the only man who loves the Notebook more than any girl), Star Wars with my friend Todd, Tin Cup and Finding Nemo with Jon, Twilight with every female friend that I have (no judging!). Pair it with a recipe and all of the non perishable ingredients for the recipe. Obviously, popcorn is a must here. If your doing a few gift baskets at a time, I buy the really fancy glass bottles of specialty root beer and separate them into gift baskets - 2 for this one, 2 for a different gift basket.

5. Pasta Night:

  • Fancy imported pasta
  • Fancy Pasta Sauce
  • Italian Spices
  • An extra that you think they could use or don't have- a quality colander, a cool apron, an Italian cookbook.
  • The best spot to find the ingredients for a basket like this is "Home Goods", "T.J. Maxx", or stores like it.

6. Spa Night:

  • Spafinder gift card
  • Eye Mask (maybe a cooling one with gel in it?)
  • lavender potpourri (again... you can make this yourself)
  • Massage Oil
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tweezers
  • The perfect nail polish shade (go for something daring - she already has a pile of reds and pinks, go for a trendy color)
  • Body scrub, loofah etc.

7. Care Care Kit:

  • Car Trash bin (I make mine using food storage containers with lavender scented small trash bags from Walmart lining the inside). Now that I think about it, I should do a post on that... More info to come soon.
  • Lavender scented trash bags
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wet Ones (to be fair- I'm a total germaphobe, this may not be "Car Care" to anyone else.)
  • Car wash soap, wax, glass cleaner, interior wipes, tire "black" spray, wheel cleaner.
  • Air fresheners (skip the trees and go for something that presents a little better)
  • If the recipient is the type to appreciate attention to detail, include a small accordion file and label the files for car maintenance receipts, fuel receipts, insurance and registration etc. (by "appreciates attention to detail"... I mean borderline OCD).

8. Project Gift Basket:

  • This is my favorite by far. Search Pinterest and find an awesome, useful project. Print out the tutorial on high quality paper (if its small enough, get crafty and mount it on cardstock with border and embellishments). Buy all of the materials needed for the project and include them in the gift basket. This is like my dream come true. I ADORE projects, but its hard to justify the costs and the errands to gather the materials. is chock full of amazing fun projects that can make the start of some pretty cool gift baskets.

9. Sickie Basket:

  • Fill up a gift basket with things that are guaranteed to make someone special feel better
  • Chicken Noodle Soup (Try Progressive so they can just heat and eat)
  • Chocolate Bars
  • Advil
  • A book in their area of interest (I'd still buy it used, but people know me and wouldn't take offense to this).
  • Lysol Wipes (again- I'm a germaphobe, this may not be appreciated by everyone)
  • Ridiculously super soft tissues (the ones that you would never buy for yourself)
  • Sore throat lollipops (found in the children's aisle, they taste so good!)
  • Trashy Magazines (the ones that are highly entertaining but you actually lose brain cells as you flip through them. Like that National Enquirer)

10. Our Story Basket:

  • Fill up a basket with an odd collection of things that you share with the recipient- I'll give you two examples to help:
    • My Sister: Buffy the Vampire Slayer music CD (because we both love Buffy), a make up bag filled with make up (because she would have $5.00 to her name as a teenager and spend it on make up for me), travel brochures from a travel agency (because we're working on an "Around the World in a Year" project and she can cut them up and use the pictures), A bag of change (because we both have giant water bottles that we collect change in), Tropicana Casino chips or a book about playing craps (we go to the Tropicana every few months), a small piece of cardstock, trimmed and embellished, with a list of the songs that remind me of her ( I'm pretty sure "She's a wild one" was written for her), Since she uses Napster, I don't need to get her a gift card to purchase the songs.
    • Jon: Super Mario Brothers video game (because we used to play that for hours and now I miss it), Legally Blonde the Musical on DVD (because our first marital fight went down because I wanted to play Call of Duty: Team Death Match and Jon wanted to watch Legally Blonde the Musical streamed from YouTube), Snyder's Honey Mustard Pretzel Pieces (we're obsessed), a note that tells him I signed up for 100 free samples to be mailed to him (Jon's favorite thing in the world is getting the mail and finding something other than bills), a (used) book on a casino table game that he doesn't know (he's perfected craps), and a small bottle of sweet tea vodka (You'll have to trust me that this was a funny story), a IOU for me to taste any mystery meal concoctions (Jon's an inventive gourmet cook, and I'm a chicken fingers kinda girl....  this one is a big deal), and an iTunes gift card with a list of songs that we share (I actually just did this as part of his birthday gift, it started with songs from when we were friends, then when we were dating, married and it ended with a nursery song).

11. Nostalgia Basket:

  • This is highly personalized and not for the novice. The idea is to go out and collect items that were popular a long time ago and hard to find now. The  items should be useful and sorely missed. Things like candy and non perishable foods are great, but think beyond the obvious. For someone my age, a few good choices are hackey sacks, Rubik's cube, garbage pail kids collectible cards, etc. Jon found out that I still have The Baby Sitters Club books hidden in my room , and got me "The complete guide to the babysitters club", that was more romantic to me than any other gift I've ever gotten in my life. A few more ideas are pogo sticks, slip n slides, and cabbage patch dolls.

12. Road Trip!

  • Atlas (because you never know when your iPhone will lose service)
  • An Entertainment Book (filled with coupons etc for travelling)
  • A backseat organizer for toys snacks etc.
  • A box filled with a variety of snacks and drinks
  • A small cooler to hold drinks
  • A travel pillow
  • A warm small blanket
  • Magnetic Board Games or age appropriate distractions for kids.

13. Gardening:

  • A variety of seed packets
  • A carrying bucket
  • A kneel board
  • Gardening Gloves
  • Liquid Fertilizer
  • Peat moss containers to start seeds
  • Garden ID Spikes to identify plants (you can make these yourself too!)
  • A book on square foot gardening

14. Organizing:

  • Be careful with this, only give a basket like this to someone that you know shares an interest in this or someone that you're very close to. You could hurt someones feelings if they thought you were trying to say that they were unorganized. 
  • Stick to a particular project or area- Pantry, Laundry Room etc. Buy containers, make chipboard labels with ribbon attachers, include project idea pictures etc.
  • I once did a fly lady gift basket (a double gift because I got to support my favorite blogger by buying her projects), that included all of my favorite products from her. 

15. School Basket:

  • Mom was famous for making these when I was a kid. They were always a big hit.
  • Fill a bucket or pail (or lunchbox!) with every school supply imaginable. Don't forget fun things like crayons, markers, cardboard, safety scissors, and paste. Mom would hit the sales during the back to school sales (which start this weekend by the way- check out for price match ups) and stock up so she could make plenty of these throughout the year. 

16. Picnic:

  • Fill a picnic basket with a waterproof lined blanket (You can make your own here)
  • Paper plates
  • Paper bowls
  • Plastic cups
  • Plastic utensils
  • Freezer ice packs
  • Collapsible cooler
  • Trimmed, embellished cardstock with picnic menu ideas and great places to go to.
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Wet Ones

17. Video Game Basket:

  • Thumb extenders for xbox (you can find them here for $9.99)
  • Rechargeable AA batteries and base
  • Turtle beach headphones
  • Microsoft xbox points gift card
  • Glass bottles of root beer.
  • Crunch n Munch

18. Journaling:

  • High quality full sized journal
  • High quality pen
  • Stationary
  • Wax and seal kit ( I love these! I bought mine 8 years ago on clearance from Barnes and Noble and use it all the time. You can get one from Barnes and Noble for $9.99 by clicking here)
  • If they own a home, get them a designed address stamp and an ink pad (again, one of my favorite thing ever.. I'm always looking for an excuse to write someone a letter! I got mine from here for $26.50, but if you search around, you can find a better deal. That purchase was made pre-frugal.)

19. Sewing Kit:

  • Fill a sewing basket with needles, patches, threads of different colors, a pin cushion, pins, a fabric marker with disappearing ink, a wire threader,  an assortment of basic buttons, and and a wrist wrap with a pin pad on it. If they have a sewing machine or they are an avid sewer... you can add some more advanced things.

20. Scrapbooking:

  • You've seen the prepackaged scrapbook kits before. This is the same idea, only your going to put together the materials for your own and it will be about a million times better. Choose a theme, grab a scrapbook, colored patterned paper that compliments each other, stickers that go with the theme, etc. If they are new to scrapbooking, include a paper trimmer, a hole punch, and edger, scrapbook glue, and paper scissors.  
There are tons of other gift baskets you can make. If you have a favorite, share the wealth and let me know!
Best of Virginia Gift basket

$10.00 Car Care Kit Gift Basket ("Basket" is actually car trash can with a top)

Pasta Night Gift Basket in Shipping Box

Spa Night Gift Basket in Shipping Box


  1. GREAT idea...we loved the Virginia gift basket you gave us!
    Remind me to pass on to you the next time we get together about a dozen nice baskets I have that I'm not using.

  2. I agree! I really like gift baskets too! Not only are they affordable, they look wonderful and can be customized to anyone.

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    1. Thanks for the support jessica, if you make any cute ones, snap a pic and send it my way- we can post it for you to inspire others!

  3. Yes! Finally, a gift basket that is manly enough to brag around. Two thumbs up for that Car Care Kit Gift Basket! Now, I know what to give my Dad for his next birthday. The last gift basket I made was for my sister’s baby shower. I bought a basket and put in baby lotions, baby soaps, and all the baby items I could think of. Then, I wrapped it with a paper with yellow and white stripes, and added a simple ribbon. I figured I should use yellow and white since they’re both neutral colors.

    Willis Quigg

    1. Willis, You are hilarious:)
      Your dad will love the car care kit and major points for such a sweet baby shower gift from such a manly guy. Your sister is a lucky girl.

  4. Wow, such a wonderful post shared by you, I feel it is very difficult to find the right gift according to the occasion, but with the help of this post it is clearly understood what gift is appropriate in which occasion.
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  5. Wow what a great tutorial and pretty straightforward too! I must make some of these, I'm thinking they'll will be great for displaying little things in at craft fairs! thanks for sharing. Christmas Gift Baskets

  6. Great Content.I have appreciate with getting lot of good and reliable information with your post.......
    Thanks for sharing such kind of nice and wonderful collection......again, beautiful :) I love reading your posts. They make me happy .


  7. This is perfect! Thanks so much for sharing! I decided I was going to give cute gift baskets in Toronto rather than try to guess an object to give my teachers at the end of the semester because they will use it more.

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  14. Great writing, love the ideas. Now write one on how to stop your sisters from raiding your gift closet....that's what i need, lol!!!. I especially love the nostalgic gift basket idea, that's what I'm going to attempt next. Keep the ideas coming.

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  17. I think all of your ideas are very creative and refreshing from the generic gifts that could be given with much less effort it shows that the gift was at least pre-planned if the receiver doesn't at least smile upon receiving them they are too materialistic and don't understand the true meaning of love.

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