Tips for creating holiday gift baskets

-- StatePointDecember 20, 2012 

Looking for a thoughtful gift this holiday season? Give a gift basket.

Don't be intimidated by the task -- it's easy to create the perfect gift basket for even the fussiest person.

"A food basket is a welcome gift for all occasions," says Bonnie Tempesta, founder of the cookie company Boncora Biscotti. "You can make it as elegant, whimsical or celebratory as you want -- and at whatever cost your budget allows."

Gift baskets also offer a chance to inject some personality into a gift.

"What you choose to put in a gift basket is a reflection of who you are as a gift giver," says Jean Thompson, owner and CEO of a Seattle chocolate company, maker of premium chocolate bars and truffles. "It's a great way to share your good taste."

Follow these simple tips to make unique gift baskets for everyone on your list:

Decide what you want to include before you buy the basket so you can pick the right size. No matter what size basket you use, it should be overflowing.

If a traditional wooden basket isn't your style, look for other vessels: a colorful paper bag, a pretty pastry box, a flower pot. The possibilities are endless -- and inexpensive.

Fill the basket with higher and lower-priced items to keep overall costs down. Include items of varying heights to add visual interest.

Arrange the contents around a theme, such as all things red or everything handmade, or his or hers favorite sport.

Choose foods you love or products you're excited about trying. Chances are, if you were wowed by a treat, your gift recipient will be too.

"Go for edibles that don't need to be eaten right away," says Edmond Sanctis, co-founder of Sahale Snacks. "Treats that can be nibbled and shared all season long are ideal gift basket additions."

Splurge on indulgences your recipient normally wouldn't buy for him or herself. , like limited-edition holiday chocolate.

Add a food item that's new or hard to find. For example, hand-made biscotti. Biscotti, plain or dipped in chocolate -- They go great with a cup of joe, so pair this gift with some gourmet coffee. Read more about handcrafted biscotti at boncorabiscotti.com.

Include unusual flavor combinations that can be used for snacking as well as cooking. Sahale Crunchers almond snacks can be eaten out of hand or used for holiday meal prep. Plus, they're gluten free. Find delicious recipes at SahaleSnacks.com.

Use colorful, recyclable paper, like tissue paper or shredded paper, to fluff up the contents of your basket.

The finishing touch on a gift basket is not the shrink wrap; it's the note. Tell your gift recipient why you chose what you did.

With these tips, you're sure to create a gift your friends and family will appreciate.

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