plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

November 13, 2008

8 reasonably priced gift basket ideas

Filed under: shopping — Tags: , , , , , — plonkee @ 4:40 pm

Some of these, I have actually given, others I would like to receive, and yet others I think are just a great idea but I don’t have the perfect recipient. Most of these are cribbed from a list that I found on the now defunct boards of the (still useful) Organized Christmas website, and they are roughly in the price range that I would normally use for a sibling or parent. You’ll notice that a lot of them are food based, I think that’s because I like food.

The thing to remember about gift baskets is that lots of little things can add up to a larger than expected price tag.

1. s’mores kit

Mini Marshmallows, Animals biscuits/mini chocolate chip cookies, skewers, candle jar.

Approximate cost £12+

Make s’mores by toasting the marshmallows over the candle and then squashing between two biscuits. Include directions. I gave this to my sister one year, I’m not sure how much she enjoyed it, but my brother thought it was awesome and still enjoys making s’mores over a candle.

2. pasta kit

Pasta bowl, fancy pasta, olive oil, pasta sauce, cheese grater, dried tomatoes, cookbook.

Approximate cost £20

Stick everything in the pasta bowl, and wrap up. You could also include wine, Parmesan cheese, tongs, herbs, etc. I’ve given this, and received it in different years. The one I received was ready packaged from a department store, the one I gave I made myself. On balance, I’m not a big fan of this one. It’s hard to make it look expensive without spending a lot of money on really fancy things. But if you know someone that really loves pasta, it may still be a good idea.

3. manicure basket

Nail polish (a couple of shades), base coat, top coat, emery boards, cuticle trimmer, nail clippers, little bottle of bubble bath, nail polish remover, cotton wool balls / sticks, quick dry top coat

Approximate cost £15-£20

Add more by having different shades of nail polish, cut costs by getting sample sizes or using discount cosmetics stores. This may or may not be cheaper than a ready made kit and it helps to know that what colour nail varnish the recipient normally wears. I’ve received something similar and appreciated it.

4. death by chocolate

Plain, milk and white chocolate in bars, chocolate truffles, hot chocolate, chocolate chip cookies,…. You get the idea.

Approximate cost £10+

Key to making this look nice is having quite fancy stuff (i.e. not Hersheys/Cadburys). Or, making things yourself. I have given this before, as an alternative to just giving a box of chocolates. It took more effort, but looked better for the same cost.

5. travel toiletries kit

A 1 quart clear zipped bag filled with travel size (under 100ml) shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste, deoderant, shaving oil, hair gel, etc.

Approximate cost £5 for the bag, plus £2 per item so easily £15-£20

This I would appreciate receiving. It’s surprisingly expensive to do, you’d need to keep your eyes out for some bargains on some of the items. This sort of thing can be adapted for baby travel toiletries, and tailored nicely for the recipient.

6. kid’s bath basket

Kids bubble bath, flannels, bath toys/books, crayon soap, plastic bath basket

Approximate cost £12+

Some of this stuff you can get at a bargain price if you shop carefully. I don’t think I’ve actually given this gift, but I’d definitely consider it for a child of between the ages of say 2 and 6. If you wanted to spend more, you could add in cartoon character towels, robes and pyjamas.

7. wine tasters basket

Bottles of wine (3+), corkscrew, wine glasses (2+), wine charms, bottle stoppers, snacks

Approximate cost £20-£100

You can cut costs by using less expensive wine, getting glasses and such like in Ikea, and inexpensive corkscrews and so on. Or you could splash out with decent wine, a cool fish corkscrew, crystal glasses, etc, etc. This can be adapted to other drinks – beer would probably be cheaper, and spirits or champagne more expensive. I might do something like this for my dad this year.

8. coffee lovers basket

Selection of coffee beans, chocolate covered espresso beans, cups/mugs, coffee grinder, cafetiere

Approximate cost £30

Cut back by using pre-ground coffee, mugs, and coffee spoons etc. Or scale it up with a coffee maker, fine china espresso or cappucino cups and very, very expensive coffee. I’ve received this (coffee grinder, espresso cups, coffee beans) and thought it was a very nice gift. Sadly, I don’t know anyone else who likes coffee as much as me.

final thoughts

The only other thing to remember about gift baskets is that it’s all in the presentation. One year, I found it hard to find actual gift baskets, and shredded paper very cheaply, and so the gifts ended up costing more than I expected.

If these ideas don’t look that exciting to you, peruse your local department store for ideas as they always have plenty of gift baskets. Then think carefully about whether you could actually do it for less. Although the shop ones often look like a lot of money for not a lot of stuff, they also have economies of scale so I’d advise pricing the complete gift before you start buying.

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