Sure, you could buy a premade gift basket, but putting one together yourself lets you curate a collection of hand-picked goods that will surely make loved ones feel special during the holidays. Also: Gift baskets let you get someone a lot of little things, not just one present — an especially helpful tip if you don’t want that great aunt once removed to call you cheap again. Below, our top tips for nailing the art of the holiday gift basket.
1. Start with a theme.
For your friend who loves yoga, thriller novels and 90s music, accept the fact that you’re not going to hit all aspects of their personality in one swoop. But if you zero in one theme — say, yoga, a favorite color or their favorite food — it’s easy to build a thoughtful bundle around that. For yogis, you could round up facial masks, scented candles (like rosemary and sea salt), along with snacks and hot chocolate for a post-class unwinding kit.
For foodies, gather a few nice boxes of artisanal pasta, some pesto or tomato sauce and a set of olive oil and vinegar (or just check our guide for gifts foodies will love).
2. Keep things seasonal.
We’re not saying go overboard here, but it’s a nice idea to include some finds that nod to wintertime. Moisturizing hand cream buffs dry hands into scented dreams. Bath lovers? Look no further than Pacha Seasonal Froth Bombs, where the carrot-nosed “Frothy the Snowman” fizzy is a winning pick. Seasonal florals also make a welcome addition to any gift basket; try a long-lasting white orchid (hello, snow season) or wintry blooms like poinsettias, amaryllis or a small wreath.
3. Add a bottle! (Okay, or a few.)
Whether you’re creating a gift for a yogi friend or the dad who’s a budding wine enthusiast, our Master Sommelier’s wine picks for the season include a selection of red, white and bubbles. Plus, you can tell your friend that a “sommelier picked out part of their gift.” Win.
4. When in doubt: Chocolate.
Currently, we’re loving Vosges Chocolate, where one blood orange hibiscus caramel marshmallow or turmeric ginger chocolate bar is always one too few. When gifting chocolate, it’s a good idea to throw in a few pears, pomegranates or plums to add a fresh element to the mix and for a vibrant burst of color.
5. Team up with others.
One great way to create a holiday gift is to go in with multiple people. For hostess gifts or larger care packages from several individuals, establish the theme, set a price limit per person and make a deadline for receiving gifts. This way, every person can pick their own present out as part of a cohesive whole. For wrapping paper, a gift bag and card, ask everyone to pitch in an extra dollar or two when they drop off their gift and have them sign the card before you put everything together.
6. Include the gift receipt.
At Whole Foods, we make it easy to shop for multiple people in one trip to the checkout with individualized gift receipts. We’re not saying it’s likely the recipient will want to return their gift, but slipping gift receipts in with the card doesn’t hurt. And if that same great aunt wants pink handmade, fair trade earrings instead of turquoise … well, her holiday wish is granted.