The best gift baskets

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Be aware of any local restrictions before sending a gift basket. Some states, for instance, will not allow interstate shipments of alcohol-based products.

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Which gift baskets are the best?

It’s never easy to find the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list, especially if you don’t know the recipient’s personal tastes very well. Gift certificates can feel a little too impersonal and assembling a personalized variety pack is often expensive and time-consuming. This is why many people find pre-packaged gift baskets to be an ideal gift for special occasions. The curated products are usually popular across the board and can easily be shared with others.

Many specialty stores offer gift baskets filled with an array of popular niche items. There are also commercial gift baskets based on a theme, such as a get-well basket filled with soups and crackers or a housewarming basket featuring gourmet coffees, mugs, and candies. Gift baskets can also be created from a customized list provided by the giver.

While there are literally thousands of gift baskets available, we have created a short list of worthwhile contenders. At the top of our list is Wine Country’s The Connoisseur Gourmet Gift Basket, an appealing assortment of both savory and sweet snacks (no actual wine products) that varies from order to order.

Considerations when choosing gift baskets

Assortment

Many gift baskets are curated and packaged by manufacturers or store proprietors, so the size and variety of items is not up to the customer. It may be possible to create a personalized gift basket through an à la carte ordering process, however. Gift baskets tend to include sampler-sized products, not the full-sized portions sold on store shelves. This is not necessarily a deal-breaker, however, because creating a gift basket at retail prices could become prohibitively expensive.

Some gift baskets are arranged by theme, whether it is a “Get Well” collection of soups and crackers or a holiday assortment of gourmet hot chocolates and decorative mugs. Candies, nuts and dried fruits are popular choices, because of their shelf stability and their nearly universal appeal. Other common ingredients include processed meats, roasted coffees and savory snacks.

Also be aware that gift basket contents are often not commonly recognized brand names, which, on the one hand, lends a unique artisanal or gourmet appearance but can also mean they sometimes lack the quality and/or quantity of better-known counterparts.

Packaging

A gift “basket” does not necessarily incorporate all of its contents in a traditional basket. Some manufacturers pack their wares into segmented boxes to keep individual ingredients from migrating. A compact gift box may also be easier to pack and ship than a full-size woven basket. Stores and gift shops, however, may have pre-made gift baskets on their shelves for consumers to deliver themselves. The packaging should be stylish and attractive since it may or may not arrive in gift wrap. The display element of a gift basket should not be an afterthought. The basket or box is also part of the gift.

Recipients

Another important consideration is the target audience for a gift basket. There may be food allergies to consider, especially when it comes to nuts and small children. Candy and other processed foods may not be appropriate for recipients with diabetic issues. Some gift baskets contain “gag” gifts that some recipients may find offensive or inappropriate. This is why gifters should carefully consider the recipient’s personal tastes and restrictions before investing in a gift basket.

Timing is also an important factor. While gift baskets containing fresh fruit are popular, they should be shipped and stored promptly. Chocolates and other candies may not survive the trip during warmer months, and some gift basket producers will not ship perishable products during certain times of the year.

Gift baskets price

The retail price of a gift basket depends heavily on the number of elements, the quality of the packaging, and the cost of production. Some outlets offer sampler gift baskets for as little as $20, but a gift basket filled with premium goods should cost between $50-$100 on average. Higher-end gift baskets filled with gourmet-quality products and exquisite packaging can easily top $200 or more.

Gift baskets FAQ

Q. I want to thank my mother’s healthcare workers at the nursing home. What items should I put in a gift basket?

A. If you are creating a gift basket for unfamiliar recipients, you should think universally. What items would appeal to most people? The answer is usually shelf-stable snacks, chocolates, familiar candies, nuts, or an assortment of teas and coffees. Avoid including alcoholic beverages or “gag gifts” that might be considered offensive or in poor taste.

Q. Will a gift basket of fresh fruits or baked goods survive the shipping process?

A. Most professional gift basket providers understand the nature of their products, so they should take the necessary precautions to keep the contents in good shape. There may be some black-out dates where shipments of fragile goods are not possible, such as hot summer months for chocolate-based gift baskets.

Gift baskets we recommend

Best of the best

Wine Country The Connoisseur Gourmet Gift Basket

Wine Country The Connoisseur Gourmet Gift Basket

Our take: This assortment of gourmet snacks and candies is ideal for a wide range of occasions and recipients. Many artisanal/small batch items are included.

What we like: Generous assortment of savory and sweet snacks. Selected items have a wide appeal. Personalized greetings are available. Simple but appealing presentation.

What we dislike: Some complaints about the quality and condition of items. Assortment can vary from basket to basket, not as pictured.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck

Golden State Pacific Coast Classic Dried Fruit Tray Gift

Golden State Pacific Coast Classic Dried Fruit Tray Gift

Our take: The stylish presentation of dried fruits and nuts is a major selling point with this inexpensive gift tray.

What we like: Contains 26 ounces of dried fruits and nuts. Sturdy wooden presentation tray. Contents are natural and healthy, not processed candy or snacks. Appealing price point for multiple orders.

What we dislike: Collection is smaller than expected. Some concerns about product freshness.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Oh! Nuts 12 Variety Mixed Nut Gift Basket

Oh! Nuts 12 Variety Mixed Nut Gift Basket

Our take: This kosher and vegetarian-friendly nut/seed collection provides enough variety for practically every recipient, young or old. Great holiday gift idea.

What we like: Includes a total of 12 nut and seed samples. Good source of protein. Wooden serving tray has a rustic appearance. Contains raw, roasted and processed snack items.

What we dislike: Items may need to be rearranged after delivery. Portion sizes are smaller than expected.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Michael Pollick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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