Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Frugal Gift Baskets

Gift baskets make great gifts for anyone because they can be personalized in so many ways. Everyone loves to get lots of things to look through and discover in a basket, but many people find that ready made gift baskets are much too expensive and impersonal to give to everyone on their list. Even basket ideas of different themes that you can put together yourself can get prohibitively expensive as all the individual items add up. Here are some of the best ways to save money while putting together an excellent basket for every person on your list.

The first way to save money while building a gift basket is to save on the basket its self. First of all, be willing to shop at thrift stores or dollar stores for baskets and containers. They can be cleaned or painted or just tied with a bow to look just as good as new. Also, think beyond the basket when putting together these gifts. At the Goodwill or other thrift stores, it’s fun to look at everything with a gift basket in mind. Lunchboxes, crockery, children’s suitcases, baskets, vases, tins, and purses can all be found and will all make interesting containers to build a gift. I’ve even found FTD or other floral containers at Goodwill, which is great because they’re usually pretty high quality, have nice sentiments for the holidays, and are meant for just such a thing as being filled.

Using one big ticket item as the star of the gift basket will also help you save money. Decide how much you’d like the complete basket to cost and consider spending half of the budget on your star item. This can be easier than you’d think, particularly if you find a good coupon for a specific item. Last year, Bath and Body Works had coupons that entitled you to a free body wash or body splash with any purchase. We used the coupons, and bought a one dollar ornament as the purchase, giving us gifts for our family of a value of twelve dollars for just one dollar. These body washes became the star of the basket. I rounded out the rest of the basket by spending about twelve more dollars and ended up with twenty-five dollar baskets for only thirteen dollars each.

Coupons are a great way to get basket items, as are the specials that drugstores offer. If you sign up for a CVS or Walgreen’s rebate program, many times you can combine coupons with rebates to get items for free or even better than free. The things like scented candles and special candies are all great things for gift baskets, but even the hygiene items, lotions and body washes can be great as fillers in pamper or bath baskets. You can put together entire baby needs baskets this way for practically nothing.

Other ways to get inexpensive fillers for your baskets are to shop at the dollar store. Many dollar stores have nice things, and it’s simple to stick with a theme. Say you wanted to do a cooking/kitchen basket for your favorite chef. You could purchase a nice apron or make one with hand embroidery or something else to make if very special. The you could get, at the dollar store, a colander or bowl to contain the gift, a whisk or mixing spoon, a spoon rest, cookie cutters, pot holders or dish towels, dish soap or scrubbers, and even recipe books! Add to this some special ingredients like organic flour or pecans or dried fruit and you’ve got a great baking/cooking basket to give. Buy the ingredients at your favorite farmers’ market store from the bulk section and package them nicely in a jar or pretty bag with a ribbon for further savings.
If you knit or do crafts, gift baskets are a great way to showcase homemade presents. You could knit bath mitts or face cloths for a bath basket, or dish cloths for a kitchen basket. I’ve done coffee mug sleeves for a special coffee basket, hats and head warmers for winter pleasures baskets. You could make a nice correspondence basket with a pretty box and homemade cards and nice pens. You could even make a crafting basket with supplies, such paper scraps, stickers, blank cards and embellishments.

Used books are another wonderful gift, because most people like books, they’re easy to find in any theme or for any occasion, and they’re particularly frugal for the value they’ll add to a gift basket. I used books especially one year when I was doing a “You’re the sweetest cookie of the batch” theme. Everything in the basket was somehow baking themed, particularly cookie themed. I put it together in a basket that had gingerbread men on it that had been bought at the Goodwill. Into the basket went cookie cutters and holiday cookie recipe books from the dollar store. I made a nice hat out of tweed yarn that was decidedly oatmeal cookie colored. There were sugar cookie body products bought with coupons and a spice cookie scented candle. To really add value to the basket without overspending, I found used mysteries with baking and cooking in their central theme. Mysteries are great books to check out when looking for a theme, because it seems like there’s a sleuth to match every interest out there. Good places to look for books are used book stores, annual library sales, thrift stores and friends of the library book stores in libraries.

It’s simple to put together a basket of second hand or recycled things that won’t cost a fortune, but won’t look cheap or tacky either. If you mix used items with new or luxury items that have been purchased at a discount, you’ll be able to afford to give so much more in a gift basket, and your friends and family will love it.

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Mary said...

Wow!! What great ideas! Thanks!

Bethany said...

Thank you, Mary, I'm glad you found it interesting.

Anonymous said...

Great Ideas! I wish you had posted this a week ago :) I was making gift baskets for a craft show I'm doing this coming weekend!

Homemaker of the 21st Century

Taya said...

What great advice! I love making gift baskets for bridal and baby showers so these tips will come in very handy! Thanks for joining in today!

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