Best Gift Baskets

Updated September 2021
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Buying guide for best gift baskets

Choosing the right gift for a special occasion can be challenging. If you don’t know the recipient too well, they can be hard to buy for. It becomes nothing short of a quest to find the right present. To keep things simple while still being thoughtful and personal, send them a gift basket.

Once you’ve decided that a gift basket is the way to go, you’ll be spoiled for choice. No matter which one you choose, you’ll be sending a curated collection of treats, sweets, or snacks. Popular items include nuts, pretzels, dried fruit, chocolate, crackers, and speciality cheeses, just to name a few. Some gift baskets, popular among those with culinary interests, include the ingredients for the recipient to assemble a meal on their own.

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If you’re not sure which gift basket is best, many retailers can make recommendations based on your preferences. Or their websites might list the occasions for which each gift basket is most appropriate.

Key considerations

Gift baskets vs. other gifts

There are countless perks to choosing a gift basket over other popular gift options. Gift certificates are always appreciated, but some people are hesitant to be so transparent about how much they’ve spent on a gift. Items like fragrance, jewelry, or wallets make great gifts, but they’re personal in nature. This means you’re rolling the dice unless you’re absolutely sure the recipient will like the item.

A gift basket, on the other hand, is the quintessential all-encompassing gift. It has a little bit of everything, so even if it includes a type of food or product the recipient doesn’t like, they’re bound to enjoy other items in the basket. Another perk is that a gift basket is the gift that keeps on giving. The basket itself can be repurposed or regifted, and some items, like plates or cheese knives, can be reused long after the edible treats are gone.

Consider the recipient

When it comes to gifting, you’re giving a present either to someone you know or to someone you don’t know very well. If you’re close enough to the recipient to know their preferences, such as their penchant for dark chocolate or gourmet popcorn, it’s fairly easy to narrow down your options. For recipients you know more casually, such as clients or administrative staff, it’s best to choose gift baskets with the greatest variety to cover all the bases.

Consider allergies

One thing to keep in mind with gift baskets is that many contain nuts. They’re universally popular, which is why you see them in so many baskets.

Unfortunately, some people have peanut or tree nut allergies. If you’re not sure whether the recipient has these allergies, stick to baskets that have other types of food. If you’d like more assurance that the basket won’t affect the recipient’s allergies, consider choosing one that is advertised as nut-free and produced in a nut-free facility.

Shipping

Gift baskets are certainly convenient gifts, right down to the delivery. With some, you’re able to select the day it’s received, but with others, you’re provided a window of a few days. If you order the gift basket far enough in advance, the latter option may not pose much of an issue, but if you’re pressed for time, your gift could arrive late. There is also the option to choose expedited shipping, though you’ll pay a premium for it, especially around peak shopping times or holidays.

Popular gift basket items

Nuts

You’ll find nuts in the vast majority of gift baskets, and more often than not, they’re packaged in bags or unique boxes. Not only are they a premium gift, but the likelihood of them spoiling in transit is low. Baskets with mostly peanuts or peanut mixes are the most affordable, and those with gourmet nut assortments are the most expensive.

Cheese

It’s common to see a variety of cheeses in gift baskets, especially those that are packaged to be shelf stable. They’re often found in snack baskets alongside jerky, sausage, and crackers. Some gift baskets include cheese accessories, such as cheese or charcuterie boards, cheese knives, or slicers.

Chocolate and candy

Chocolate and candy are some of the most loved items in gift baskets, but be careful casting a wide net with these. Recipients who prefer milk chocolate might not enjoy a basket that includes dark chocolate, and those who enjoy fruity candy might shy away from caramels or licorice. For these reasons, it’s often recommended that you give chocolate and candy baskets to recipients whose preferences you know.

Fruit

Gift baskets may contain fresh or dried fruit, which has a fairly universal appeal. Fresh fruit baskets are perennial favorites, with apples and pears reigning supreme as the most popular items. Dried fruit is often seen in baskets that include nuts or snacks. Some common ones include dried apricots, dates, pears, peaches, and plums.

Cookies

Cookies are often seen in gift baskets, with chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies the most popular. Like fruit, cookies have universal appeal. Unfortunately, many cookies are made with nuts, so it’s a bit of a gamble if you’re unsure whether the recipient has a nut or other food allergy, including gluten or lactose intolerance.

Snacks

Snack gift baskets are in a league of their own and have the greatest variety of all. They’re often themed or curated for certain palates. The simplest baskets include an assortment of cheeses and crackers, while many deluxe baskets include some combination of gourmet popcorn, nuts, chocolate-covered pretzels, dipped strawberries, bark, and brittle. These may also have gourmet condiments, such as jams, mustards, or chutneys.

Meal kits

One type of gift basket that is growing in popularity is the meal kit basket. These may include all the ingredients the recipient needs to make a specialty meal like pasta, curry, or soup. There are also prepackaged meal kits, in which the recipient only needs to heat the food, like lasagna, in the oven or microwave. Meal kits typically specify how many people they feed, with two servings being the most popular.

Gift basket prices

Gift baskets cost between $20 and $200, mostly depending on the number of items included.

Inexpensive: If you’re on a budget, you can send a small gift basket priced between $20 and $40. These only include a few items and quality can be hit or miss.

Mid-range: These gift baskets cost between $50 and $100 and include an impressive assortment of premium items, such as specialty cheeses or chocolate from companies like Ghihardelli or Godiva.

Expensive: These gift baskets can cost as much as $200, but you get the most bang for your buck. Not only are they presented more beautifully, but they also include many more items and often come with specialty items like cheese knives or serving ware.

Tips

  • Order the basket well in advance. To save money on shipping and avoid any unforeseeable delays, it’s best to make your decision on a gift basket at least two weeks in advance of when you’d like it delivered.
  • Go generic. If you’re sending a gift basket to a group of people, such as a nurses’ station or an office, stick to universally appealing items so everyone can enjoy it.
  • Check for shipping restrictions. Some gift baskets won’t ship to post office boxes, APOs, or certain territories. If you’re not sure or the retailer’s website isn’t clear, reach out to them directly for a definitive answer.
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If you’re concerned about the gift basket being stolen, you may be able to request a signature upon delivery to make sure it reaches the right person.

FAQ

Q. How are gift baskets wrapped?
A.
Most gift baskets are shipped in cardboard boxes, so they’re wrapped in such a way that they stay intact during transit. Some baskets are shrink-wrapped, while others are placed in gift boxes.
 

Q. Will the food in the gift basket spoil before my recipient can enjoy it?
A.
Gift baskets are usually made up of shelf-stable foods with reasonable expiration dates. However, some gift baskets include perishable goods. These baskets are sent in a styrofoam box lined with ice packs to ensure they’ll last from the ship date until your recipient unpacks them.
 

Q. How do I know the gift basket has arrived at the recipient’s home or office?
A.
More often than not, you’ll be provided with tracking information. Depending on the carrier, you may be able to know the exact time it was delivered, as well as if it was handed to someone or left on a doorstep.

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