Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Rapid Gift-Basketry

Gift baskets! They’re great, except that the pre-made ones you order online are overpriced, and you get approximately one chocolate chip per five pounds of packaging. Plus why are they always themed around one flavor? I mean, yes, we all can and will eat an entire basket of chocolate, but wouldn’t you rather give someone a variety of goodies precisely calibrated to their personal tastes?

What you may not have realized is that you can make your own gift basket at any grocery store at any time, including an hour before that holiday party at your neighbor’s house when you’re not sure what to get her because it seems like she already has enough cats and Bibles.

Here’s the secret formula for the perfect gift basket: 1 bottle of alcohol (plus mixer if needed), 1 salty snack, 1 sweet snack, 1 healthy snack, and either chips/dip or crackers/cheese. (Paranoid protip: the cheese will be fine outside the refrigerator.) If your gift recipient doesn’t drink, you can swap the booze for coffee or tea. Finish by sprinkling in a few individually wrapped candies.

That’s the gift part — now for the basket part. Some upscale supermarkets will do a gift basket up real nice with cellophane and curly ribbons for a small fee. You could also try to wrap it yourself; see here and here for instructions. And if you’re the kind of person who would end up somehow choking to death on the cellophane, you can always put it in a bag, box, or other non-basket container.

So now you know the ancient magic of an affordable, personalized, homemade gift basket. Please: use it for good, not evil.

Lauren O'Neal is from the Internet and lives in Austin, Texas.

33 Comments / Post A Comment


Aaaaah, I was wondering what to get my grad school recommenders! Now I know.


Cute tiny boozes! Always! Yesterday I saw a bunch of the teensy Patrón bottles inside a HUGE Patrón bottle (not to be confused with a giant shrimp made out of shrimp diving into a bowl of shrimp) and I cooed at it, out loud, in front of people, as one would coo at a baby in a stroller.


@JessicaLovejoy Shrimpception?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I love those tiny Patrón bottles. If you want to get crafty: tie a ribbon around the tiny neck, attach an ornament hook, and BANG! World's most useful Christmas ornament.


@punkahontas Sandra Lee???

RK Fire

@JessicaLovejoy: "yo dawg, I heard you like shrimp..." or "yo dawg, I heard you like Patron.."


ARGH, you explained this way better than me. I couldn't even enunciate. We also like have something non-food to round out the basket - http://smartestcleverest.com/2011/12/13/the-art-of-the-nyc-gift-basket/


I used to work in a baby boutique and my favorite part of the job was shrink wrapping gift baskets with cellophane and a heat gun.


YOU ARE A GENIUS. Thank you!!!!!!


I am a terribly piss poor gift-giver in terms of originality. I am good at birthdays, but just get overwhelmed at Christmas.

My solution is to do a gift bag for my closest friends - in which there is usually a wine or spirit of some kind, a local delicacy (this year, it is Bacon Jam, roasted nuts of some variety (hazelnuts this year), and my favorite book of the year (this year, it is Sheila McClear's book, The Last of the Live Nude Girls).


@karion That sounds like you're....a really good gift-giver actually?


@karion Uh, that sounds fantastic, how do I get on your gift list?


Also good - a type of spread. If you are going the cheese route, you can go with chutney or fig spread. If you need a sweet to go with some nice biscuits/croissants/what have you, try a fancy conserve, or lemon curd, or honey with honeycomb in it. Level of fanciness is adjustable to budget/friendship level.


Maybe it's a Canadian thing but most of the gift baskets I have bought (I usually get one for my grandparents every Christmas) have had variety to them.


Some people I know just got an English muffin gift basket from someone and it was ♪ really cuuute ♫ cute enough that I have to sing it when I say it.


World Market has a build your own gift basket section - little bottles of champagne, various spreads, crackers, cheese, mini hot sauces, little bottles of garlic olive oil, etc. I wanted to put one together but I'd already gotten my presents.


@koala I would get one for myself, for my night cheese parties, of course.

ms. alex

@koala I kind of want to make myself a gift basket that's mostly made out of little bottles of champagne.


@Megan Patterson@facebook Working on my night cheese.


@all It looks like we need two gift baskets - mini champagne for the night cheese parties! Maybe with a Slanket included.

You'll be sorry Jo March

I don't know about you, but I'd be happy with the pictured basket of eggplants. All I want for Christmas is my eggplant basket!

You'll be sorry Jo March

Just kidding, that would not please me at all.


@You'll be sorry Jo March Ooops. Shoulda got a gift receipt...

ms. alex

I feel weird about gift baskets now (I used to think they were great and could do no wrong!) because the big box store I work at sells gift baskets of things like SOUP and CLEANING SUPPLIES (not in the same basket, but still!) for like $25 and WHAT THE HELL.


@ms. alex Ughhhh I wonder how many clueless men give their wives gift baskets of cleaning supplies.


@ms. alex I for one would rather have a gift basket of cleaning supplies than some of the useless things I have received. It's not a bad idea for the fixed-income person on your list who has no need of junk but is chronically short of cash.

ms. alex

@cinderellen@twitter I'm chronically short of cash (and chonically short of cleaning supplies), but I still think it'd make me sad to get a gift that's that practical.(Although when I had gift cards a few months ago, I did buy a lot of really boring/practical things. So maybe I've somewhere decided that gift baskets=fun and gift cards=what I need?)


@ms. alex I would be interested in a cleaning basket if Jolie was behind it. Oxi-clean, white vinegar, Goo Gone, her home phone number for cleaning emergencies...


@ms. alex it recently came up that practical gifts like toilet paper, paper towels, etc. would actually be preferable to people spending money on knickknacks you don't need/want. Yet cleaning supplies still seems wrong.

ms. alex

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher that would be a gift basked of an entirely different class!


I've been going gift basket crazy without actually realizing it, likely because I lack baskets - are gift hastily-wrapped-in-newsprint-paper-and-tied-together-with-yarn-conglomerations a thing? Also, what music goes best with an Old Fashioned cocktail kit? INQUIRING MINDS ETC.

HRH Your Cuntness

I make "crafty baskets" most years for Christmas and hand them out to my coworkers. They usually contain homemade baked goods: truffles, sea salt caramels, pecan pralines, english toffee, two types of cookies, homemade marshmallows, fresh-baked scones and then the makings for hot chocolate plus a mug. But all that baking is A LOT of work, particularly around the holidays when I'm already baking a lot.

So, this year I decide I'm going to do less baking and more other stuff, because that's easier, right? So I start thinking I can make a few bath bombs, some kitchen soaps, some bath salts and a candle, all nice and wintery-scented. Fun and easy, right? Psh. At this rate they're going to end up as Summer Solstice Baskets.


@HRH Your Cuntness I am so in awe right now I cannot even. Your friends and family are very lucky to have you around to turn their "midriffs" into "bellies", a noble cause. *salutes*

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