One of the easiest way to make sure hard-to-buy-for friends or business associates get a gift from you they appreciate is to give a gift basket. You can tailor a basket to each person on your list, or create general goodie baskets that provide at least several items anyone would love to get.

Instead of going online and ordering an expensive gift basket (with an inflated price that has to cover the company’s overhead and shipping), put together your own thoughtful baskets and give a much-appreciated gift that doesn’t blow your holiday gift-giving budget.


Depending on your budget, you can head to specialty stores (such as cheese shops or bath stores) or big box retailers. You’ll be surprised at the aisles of cheap goodies available at Target or Walmart. You can fill a basket with lots of inexpensive treats that, in total, create a cornucopia of goodies that will elicit plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” when it arrives.


Don’t go too cheap on the basket that will hold your treats. This will be the one item that lasts long after people have eaten, drunk or played with your goodies. Choose a nice wicker basket your giftee can use year-round for holding magazines, toiletries or kitchen items. Purchase some decorative straw to line the bottom of the basket or to raise items so they peek above the rim if you’re only including a half-dozen items or so. Decide if you want to add some plastic wrap to protect the contents and a bow to finish off the gift.


Create a grownup snack basket with “gourmet” crackers, a variety of individual or small cheeses, a sausage log, small jar of brown mustard, tasty chocolates, scrumptious cookies or muffins and other items a person or couple can enjoy during an intimate get together. Many of these items are displayed near each other at big box stores to encourage DIY gift baskets. Depending on your budget you can add a can of sardines or some crusty bread with a small bottle of local jam or sun-dried tomato paste. If you’ll be giving the basket in person (instead of shipping it), you can include a small bottle of wine and two glasses (which you can get for $1 each at a dollar store). And if you’re looking for some higher-end, unique wine accessories, here is a great assortment.


Create fun baskets for kids by choosing a variety of fun toys, cookies and candies, as well as several different flavors of drinks. Add some popcorn packets and fresh fruit. Include an age-appropriate book or a DVD the family can watch. Check with parents to find out if the child has any allergy or diet restrictions before you make your basket.


Create a fun basket of personal care items for female friends that lets them try creams, soaps, shampoos and other items they might not have sampled before. If you travel, collect the nicer toiletries, such as the body washes, boxed soaps and hand lotions provided in your hotel rooms, and save them for gift giving. You can find Burt’s Bees products at big box stores, along with inexpensive scented candles, hand towels, loofa bars and soap dishes to create a more complete basket. Add a packet of soothing tea and a scented candle for a relaxing bubble bath experience. And don’t forget a piece of rich, dark chocolate wrapped in foil. If you’re looking for spa basket all-ready to go, check out these handmade wonders.


If you have a golfer or tennis player on your list, create a thoughtful basket that gives them a nice day on the court or course. For golfers, include a sleeve of balls, a new glove, tees, ball markers and a divot repair tool. If they play at a local club, stop in the pro shop if you’ll be driving by and pick up a logoed golf towel. Tennis players go through lots of grip overwraps and occasionally need a replacement grip. Add a can of balls, a vibration dampener, an energy bar or two, a tape measure (for checking net heights), a tennis towel, wristbands and tennis socks. You’ll really impress your tennis-playing friend if you contact your local USTA office for a low-cost booklet that covers the rules of the game.


You can probably make an entire movie-night goodie basket for the cost of a large soda and bucket of popcorn at a movie theater! Start with a (used) DVD of a movie you think your friend or co-worker will love. Add a packet (or three) of microwave popcorn and several boxes of traditional movie candies (such as Raisinets or Milk Duds). If you’re on a budget, buy generic candies, picking the most unique items you can find. Since your friends will be watching the movie for two or more hours, add some cheese and crackers, salted or honey roasted nuts and a sausage log. Include age-appropriate drinks.

This article was written by Sam Ashe-Edmunds, contributor for The Daily Clutch.