Designing and making gift baskets can be a lot of fun, especially if you have some creative flair. You can make standard or special occasion baskets, and you can also create custom baskets for specific customers. Gifts do not technically have to come in a basket; you can find unusual or distinctive containers to package things in that will make your offerings more unique.

Filler such as moss, tissue paper, raffia, or other creative substances can be used to help keep items in place and fill in baskets. Baskets and other containers can be wrapped in cellophane, or you can try tulle for a more unique look. Add ribbons and bows to taste, or use interesting little gifts or candy to decorate.

Here are some ideas:

STANDARD BASKETS for almost any occasion

Get Well Basket

In a medium basket, place a mug (a personalized mug would make a nice touch) and fill it with assorted, flavored tea bags. Add a delicate spoon, a small jar of honey, a lemon, a handkerchief, a crossword puzzle book, a paperback, or any other items that are appropriate for a sick friend.

Baking Basket

Here’s an opportunity to use something unique. Rather than using a basket, fill a cookie jar with ingredients for baking chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies. Throw in a new set of measuring spoons, a measuring cup, a mixing spoon, and a bottle of vanilla extract. Don’t forget a nicely printed card with the cookie recipe. Or, fill a bundt cake pan with ingredients for a luscious cake, or a loaf pan with ingredients for a special bread recipe.

For the Cook

Gather several unusual kitchen gadgets and display them in a basket, or perhaps a colander or a gelatin mold for a creative touch. Add a cute apron, some recipe cards or a recipe booklet, and a few jars of interesting spices.

For the Wine Lover

Place a nice bottle or two of wine, perhaps one red and one white, in a large basket. Add a pair of appropriate wine glasses for each bottle, and a corkscrew. Print out a wine guide that details which wines go best with which foods. Perhaps add a cheese board and knife.

For the Coffee Lover

Use a large mug or two, or stemmed glass coffee cups and fill them with packets of flavored creamers. Add a couple of packages of premium coffee beans and a small coffee grinder. A cup warmer (looks like a very small hot plate) would make a nice touch. You can make a similar basket with different kinds of cocoa instead of coffee.

Aromatherapy Basket

Fill a basket with scented soaps and candles in different shapes and sizes. Include votive holders, candlesticks or candle plates, and a candlesnuffer. Use potpourri, in the same scent as the candles, for filler. You can also make up baskets filled with fruits, nuts, candies, body lotions, and gels, that can be used for any occasion. These along with many of the items above make great housewarming gifts.

SPECIAL OCCASION BASKETS

Baby Shower Basket

These baskets are fun to make and as cute as can be. Instead of a regular basket, you might fill a baby bathtub with lotion, powder, baby shampoo, and bath gel, baby washcloths, and hooded towels, tiny nail clippers, and a soft brush. Or, fill a basket with bottles, bibs, a feeding set, baby spoons, wipes, and some fluffy stuffed animals.

Wedding Shower Basket

A nice bottle of champagne or sparkling wine, two fluted glasses, and some beautiful candles will make a nice, romantic gift. For the more practical gift giver, fill an extra-large basket, perhaps a wicker laundry basket, with an inexpensive iron, an electric can opener, and a toaster or other small appliances (these can often be purchased on sale for less than twenty dollars). Add cooking utensils, measuring cups, potholders, etc.

Holiday Baskets

Fill a basket with items exclusive to the particular holiday. Christmas baskets can contain fruitcake, candy canes, miniature stockings or trees, and small wrapped gifts. Valentine’s Day gifts can be arranged in a heart-shaped basket.

A nice idea is to include items needed for a romantic dinner for two long taper candles, candlesticks, a rose with a bud vase, sparkling wine or cider, glasses, and maybe a jar of caviar or a beautifully wrapped package of fine chocolates.

For Mother’s Day, you might include lotions, gels, and bubble bath to pamper Mom, along with a gift certificate for her favorite restaurant, or for maid service, a manicure, or to have her hair done. For Father’s Day, add golf balls and a golf glove, tennis balls and sweatbands, tickets to a ballgame, or a gift certificate for a nice massage along with some of Dad’s favorite snacks.

CUSTOM BASKETS

Anniversary Basket

The contents of an anniversary basket will usually be determined by which anniversary the couple is celebrating. A standard basket could contain a new photo album, the couple’s wedding picture, and any items that suit the particular anniversary.

Birthday Basket

Include items that represent the recipient’s hobbies, livelihood, birthstone, or anything else unique to that person. Print out a page of things that happened in history on the day the person was born, and add several of their favorite treats. Wooden numbers, often used for house numbers, can be painted and added to the basket to denote which birthday is being celebrated.

I’m Sorry Basket

This basket can include a replacement item of something that was lost or broken by the gift giver, or any item that could make up for whatever was done to offend the recipient. For example, if a man got a parking ticket in his sister’s car, you could create a basket that includes the receipt for the paid ticket, along with some special treats and a card. Or, this basket can simply include treats, flowers, or small gifts.

Just because basket

This basket should be overflowing with the recipient’s favorite items. The customer will have to let you know what those items are. If the recipient collects Teddy Bears, there should be lots of different sizes, shapes, colors, and textures of bears along with some special treats.

Retirement Basket

For a man: Golf balls, golf glove, golf magazine, etc.

For a woman: Gardening gloves, books, seeds, and gardening utensils.

This list is by no means exhaustive. The possibilities for gift baskets are endless, and that’s half the fun. You will soon be coming up with your own ideas, and finding ways to make every day a gift-giving occasion. You can create fabulous baskets to give your own friends and loved ones as well.

THE BUSINESS END

It doesn’t take a lot of money to start this business since you can start out small. You can make up a few baskets and place them in a local craft store or consignment shop, and you can place ads in the classified section of the local paper.

Make sure your baskets are unique, filled with quality items, packaged beautifully, and are a good value for the price. Many gift baskets are quite pricey, but they contain more filler than useable items. Some filler is necessary to make the basket attractive and to help keep items in place, but the consumer should receive enough useable products to make it worthwhile.

When a customer orders a basket, ask for half of the purchase price as a deposit, and collect the rest upon completion. This way you should have enough money to purchase the items you need, and you won’t be out any money if the customer changes her mind.

Obviously, then you should attempt to at least double the money you expend in creating a basket. What you decide to charge for a particular gift basket will depend on the type and cost of the basket, the cost of the items needed to fill it, the time spent and level of difficulty in putting it all together, and the cost of filler, wrap, cards, etc.

Don’t forget to include additional charges if you are asked to deliver the basket. As you begin to sell more baskets, put your profits back into the business, and purchase more supplies. Most of the things you need will probably be cheaper if you buy in bulk, so increasing your inventory will save you money in the long term.

As the business grows, and actually becomes a business, don’t neglect to secure any required licenses or permits. You may also need to speak to an accountant about tax issues involved with owning your own business.

If you eventually decide to build a website, remember that going live means you could draw customers from all over the world. Make sure you have the resources to keep up with the orders. At first, you may only want to offer custom baskets on your website if your resources are limited.