Gourmet gift baskets are not all created equal. You can design a beautiful, unique gift basket, filled with the best quality ingredients, with style and creativity. I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't love getting a gift basket as a gift, appreciating its attractiveness and relishing the discovery of all the delicious items inside. They are, in fact, the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone who seems to have everything.
Designing and building a gourmet gift basket is a satisfying and enjoyable experience, much like other craft hobbies, and the more of your self you put into it, the more it will be appreciated. There are many different themes to choose from. Do you want a formal or informal look? Does your recipient have a favorite color you can use as your color scheme? Are there particular types of ingredients you would like to incorporate? Answering all of these questions will set you on the path to make a beautiful, highly personalized gift.
Some of the most popular themes for gift baskets incorporate food types or regional foods. One of our most popular lines of gifts, for example, are the chocolate gift baskets. Everyone loves chocolate. You can venture beyond just boxed chocolates and candy bars by including chocolate biscotti, miniature cakes, cookies, cocoa or chocolate flavored coffees. Italian gift baskets are also very popular and allow for some additional creativity. One of our most popular ones uses a stainless colander instead of a basket and includes pasta tines and a sauce ladle. The possibilities are endless, just let your creativity loose.
Another consideration when designing a gourmet gift basket is whether you might incorporate a lasting gift. Coffee themed gift baskets, for example, might include a stylish coffee mug or French press. Tea gift baskets might include beautiful tea cups, tea pots, cozies, caddies or infusers. Housewarming gift baskets might include a handsome salad bowl as the "basket" with salad servers, cook book or barbecue sets. The possibilities are endless. Think about hobbies, interests and favorites of the gift's recipient to inspire your thinking.
Begin by choosing your basket. Select a style and color that complements the design you have in mind. If you chose a basket with a handle, make sure the handle is positioned in a way that won't hamper your ability to display the products. Some handles are positioned too low to allow sufficient room, so keep an eye out for that.
Next you will choose the ingredients for your gift basket. Think menu. Just as you would plan a special meal, you should plan for a menu of items that are complementary to each other, provide variety and are balanced. You should also consider the size of the items. Items that are all the same size provide no interest in the design, you will want to select some larger, some small and where ever possible look for interesting shapes. There are some great packaging approaches that are fun to incorporate - triangle boxes, round tins and more. Finally, choose ingredients that fit your color scheme.
Fill the bottom of the basket with peanuts or crumpled wrap paper and add a generous layer of colored shred, consistent with your color scheme. You are now ready to build the gift basket design. Start by centering your largest items in the back row. Make sure these items are well secured as they will anchor the rest of the design. I prefer glue dots for this, but I've also seen packing tape used.
The back row's items are placed straight vertically, but as you move forward in the design, the next row should fan out a bit from the center. To insure that the design is symmetrical, select items that are similar in size and shape to fan out on either side.
It is also nice to place an item with an interesting shape in the center as your focal point, or an item that is packaged so that it can be place horizontally to create variety and interest. You will place the smallest items in the front, continuing to follow the fan shape started in the second row. Make sure that the angles of the fanned items are aligned with each other or you will get a "messy" look.
If you are using a lasting gift such as a mug or teapot, one option is to place it in the center as a focal point, but I prefer to place it off center to one side and then balance out the design by placing (usually several) items opposite it on the other side from the center. Use your creativity and sense of style.
Once your design it finished, make sure that any sparse-looking spaces are filled with additional shred. You can also add decorative, seasonal picks if you like (found at arts and crafts stores or floral supply). I personally don't like the artificial look of most of these and if adding decoration prefer to use natural items such as dried flowers.
Now the finishing touches. Wrap the gift basket in cello. I prefer the cello bags and do not use shrink wrap, but it is an option. I think the shrink wrap gives it a mass-produced look and prefer the cello bag gathered at the top with a plume and beautiful ribbon. This is another place you might add decoration, such as sea shells tied with the ribbon if your design includes seafood, or again dried flowers.
Step back and admire your work. You are sure to please the lucky recipient with this gorgeous gourmet gift basket with all its personal touches.
Laura Marchiori is the owner of a dynamic online store specializing in gourmet gift baskets and their signature line of gifts, Bay Bounty, that capture the flavors and traditions of the Chesapeake Bay.