Choosing gifts for the people in your life can be difficult, but a gift basket tends to be a perennial crowd-pleaser for family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances alike. There’s just something about the bountiful cornucopia of a gift basket that makes the recipient feel cared for and appreciated. Plus, the variety of items included—from wines and cheeses to spa-grade lotions and soaps—ensure the gift recipient finds at least one element to like.
Though gift baskets traditionally have contained an assortment of fresh fruit and nonperishable snacks, modern versions can be filled with just about anything your heart desires. Read on to learn the variety of options available and to see recommendations for the best gift basket.
- BEST OVERALL: Knack Hand Selected Give-Back Gift at Knack Shops for $25
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Spa Luxetique Gift Basket at Amazon for $26.99 (Save $9)
- BEST FLORAL: FTD Beautiful Spirit Bouquet at FTD for $95
- BEST GOURMET: The Connoisseur Gourmet Gift Basket at Amazon for 54.02 (Save $4.93)
- BEST WINE AND CHEESE: Harry & David Gourmet Cheese Gift with Wine at Harry & David for $79.99
- BEST FRUIT BASKET: Golden State Fruit Orchard Delight Gourmet Basket at Amazon for $59.02
- BEST ICE CREAM: Jeni’s Top Sellers Collection at Jeni’s for $58
- BEST BAKED GOODS: Harry & David Deluxe Holiday Cookie Gift Basket at Harry & David for $74.99
Popular Types of Gift Baskets
A gift basket is available for practically every interest. Whether you’re looking for a basket for a foodie, wine lover, self-care junkie, or even someone you don’t know very well, plenty of options are available. Here are some of the most common types that are well-received no matter who you’re shopping for.
Traditional gift baskets contain either perishable foods like fruit or nonperishable foods, such as chocolate, jams, crackers, or nuts. They also might contain other epicurean treats like teas and wine. Many contain flowers, plants, stuffed animals, or bath and body products, depending on the occasion. Though modern gift baskets vary greatly, traditional ones are always a safe bet because they’re meant to have nearly universal appeal. They work well to convey sympathy or congratulations, and they can be given for practically any major holiday or occasion.
Wine and Cheese
Wine and cheese baskets equip the receiver to indulge in an evening of decadence. They make ideal engagement or housewarming gifts, or they can be sent to friends who need a little push to treat themselves. They also make excellent and relatively inexpensive hostess gifts to thank hosts for their hospitality. Some simply come with cheese and wine, while others contain charcuterie meats or other snacks as well. Baskets are available with red, white, or sparkling wine. Pro Tip: Ensure the recipient drinks alcohol before sending a gift basket containing wine.
If someone on your list is a gastronome, a wide variety of culinary-based baskets are available. Some gift baskets are filled with high-quality edible treats, while others include cooking kits that contain the ingredients to put together a gourmet meal. These may include imported dried pasta, preserves, sauces, or high-end specialty ingredients like truffles. Even a relative neophyte in the kitchen can benefit from a ready-to-make meal kit. Gourmet baskets also might contain several varieties of the same ingredient, such as hot sauce, olive oil, or spice mixes.
A fruit basket, one of the most traditional forms of gift basket, is appropriate for nearly any occasion. Since the advent of globalization, exotic and tropical fruits are often available in the local supermarket, but this kind of basket is still gifted as a kind gesture. They can contain many different types of produce, from the ubiquitous apples, bananas, pears, and grapes to more unique picks like pomegranates, persimmons, or passion fruit. Fruit bouquets, which contain fruit cut decoratively into the shape of flowers, have gained popularity because of their novelty and visual appeal.
Chocolate and Sweets
It’s hard to go wrong with a basket filled with chocolate, candy, or baked goods. While some health nuts might not appreciate a sugar-filled basket, most people like to indulge and treat themselves every now and then, making this a crowd-pleasing choice. Though nonperishable sweets like bar chocolate and prepackaged goods have long been popular, fast delivery has made it possible to ship freshly baked cookies, pastries, muffins, and more. These days, ice cream boxes can be delivered in insulated, freezer-packed packaging.
Themed gift baskets come in a variety of forms. There’s a basket out there for pretty much any conceivable interest. The baskets with the most widespread appeal offer a selection of teas, coffees, candles, or bath bombs. But you also can get more specific: baskets filled with tools for handymen, merch for comic book lovers, or supplies for beer brewers. Some baskets are themed around food, various hobbies, and even for specific occasions like self-care baskets for expectant mothers.
Sending floral gifts has never been easier, whether your loved ones live a few blocks away, across the country, or even around the world. Plenty of services offer nationwide or international floral delivery, typically by partnering with local florists who will put together and deliver the arrangement to the intended recipient. Flowers make a lovely gift to show someone you’re thinking of them, either as a celebration or an expression of condolences. The holiday season is an ideal time to send flowers, so the person receiving them can put them on display while entertaining, but they also make a hit throughout the year.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Gift Basket
Before you begin to shop for a gift basket, weigh some key considerations. The options for gift baskets are seemingly endless, but they can vary in many ways. Read on to find out what to keep in mind when shopping for the best gift baskets for everyone on your list.
The primary factor to consider when shopping for a gift basket is the recipient’s tastes and interests. Luckily, today, gift baskets are available for coffee lovers, barbecue fanatics, epicures, and aspiring beauty gurus. If you’re familiar with the recipient’s hobbies, the options are seemingly endless. If purchasing a gift basket for someone you don’t know very well, a basket filled with tasty treats may work. Whether it’s fruit, baked goods, or wine and cheese supplies, food-based baskets are usually appreciated. Floral baskets, another universally appealing option, suit almost everyone.
Gift baskets come in many shapes and sizes. Whether you want to send something small and thoughtful or over-the-top and extravagant, an option exists to suit your needs. A gift basket for an entire family, for example, should be larger than the one intended for an elderly neighbor who lives alone. To ensure good value, however, consider the cost per item. Though a massive gift basket might make a big initial impact, also consider the quality of all the items included.
Variety is one of the most appealing things about gift baskets. No matter the theme of your basket, include as much variety as possible. If shopping for someone you don’t know well, a wide variation in products makes it more likely that the basket will hold something the person will enjoy. Some themed baskets contain many types of the same item (like tea baskets), and others will contain a wide array of different products. The former is a great choice for a recipient who’s a connoisseur in a particular category, while the latter work well if you’re not necessarily familiar with someone’s interests.
Perishable vs. Non-Perishable vs. Semi-Perishable
When purchasing food-based gifts, it’s essential to consider whether perishable items are a good option in the basket. Baskets containing fruit, baked goods, or even flowers will quickly degrade if not correctly packaged. Semi-perishable options last longer, but they still have a relatively short shelf life. The safest option is to choose a basket containing nonperishable foods like crackers and spreads, although there’s something novel about having ice cream delivered straight to the door! Most basket companies have optimized their food-preservation techniques to ensure that everything is fresh when it arrives at its destination.
The recipient needs to know who sent the gift basket. Before the advent of the internet, consumers typically chose gift baskets in person, so it was easy to include a personalized note. Today, many online companies let you compose a customizable note to include with your delivery. Some brands have limited options, while others let you individualize your accompanying note. Several companies offer handwritten, rather than typed, notes, a nice added touch.
Depending on the type of gift basket, packaging is either practical or decorative. Practical packaging is key for perishable food items that need refrigeration to keep their contents fresh. For a gift basket that makes a big impact when it arrives at the door, however, choose visually appealing decorative packaging. Traditional cellophane wrapping is still common, but innovative companies have created novel ways to package their gift baskets and boxes, so opening the basket feels like a treat.
Our Top Picks
The following recommendations consider all these characteristics, including perishability, quantity, variety, and level of personalization. This selection includes gift basket choices in several categories to help you find the best gift basket for your budget and your recipient’s tastes.
Customization of gift basket contents makes a gift more personal, such as a Hand Selected Give-Back Gift from Knack. Containing a truffle chocolate bar, an insulated stainless steel tumbler, a citrus-scented travel candle, and wild fig hand cream, this box can please friends or colleagues with plenty of tastes and interests. Knack also offers Give Back Gifts, which contain either precurated or fully customizable items that support specific causes. Knack donates the proceeds from Give-Back gift basket purchases to causes that empower women, fight hunger, help the environment, or improve education.
The Spa Luxetique Gift Basket can please the people in your life who need a little pampering. Spa baskets work well for acquaintances, such as children’s teachers or daycare workers. This basket can make a big impact at a low price point. The calming lavender scents of the bath and body products evoke the French countryside, and they contain vitamin E as well as essential oils. The set includes hand cream, hand wash, shower gel, body lotion, body butter, bubble bath, bath salts, and two bath bombs. Plus, it comes packaged in a lavender-hued tote to store toiletries at home or even to use as a purse or beach bag.
Flowers can say a lot, and the Beautiful Spirit Bouquet from FTD packs a variety of mostly blush-colored blossoms in a crafted basket container. To offer sympathy, congratulations, or gratitude, this basket can help express your feelings. Arranging for local floral delivery is easy, but having flowers delivered to loved ones across the country can get tricky. FTD partners with local florists around the world to make delivering bouquets to loved ones quick and simple. This woven basket is filled with carnations, roses, lilies, and Fuji mums in shades of blush as well as lush greenery for visual contrast. It comes in three different sizes to suit your taste and budget.
The spread included in Wine Country Gift Basket Store’s Connoisseur Basket can enrich a family picnic in the park or in the living room. Savory snacks include olives, cracked peppercorn crackers, Italian snack crisps, and more. It comes with two types of Ghirardelli chocolate, Lindt chocolate, milk biscuits, and Guylian Belgian chocolate seahorses. For those who want to prioritize visually appealing packaging, this basket by Wine Country Gift Baskets, which comes in a useful reusable basket, is adorned with a bow. You also can add a personalized message to your gift.
For wine and cheese lovers, you can choose a box like the Harry & David Gourmet Cheese Gift with Wine. It comes with their brand of a red blend wine and four high-quality cheeses, along with an assortment of other snacks. The gift basket contains Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue cheese, Sartori BellaVitano Gold cheese, a sharp white cheddar, and a smooth gouda. Dried fruits and mixed nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, and pecans) are also included. Harry & David packages the contents in a wood crate with rope handles, stamped with their logo. It ships express and should arrive within two days of ordering.
The fruits available for the Golden State Fruit Orchard Delight Gourmet Basket fruit vary depending on the season, an indicator that your recipient’s fruit will be as fresh as possible. The basket typically contains two types of pears, two varieties of apples, citrus, and other seasonal fruit. Along with fresh fruit, this basket includes a selection of dried fruit, packages of roasted almonds, honey-roasted cashews, and sea salt chocolate caramels. This type of fruit basket makes a good choice for the more health-conscious recipients on your list.
Gourmet ice cream is a crowd-pleaser, and this Jeni’s Top Sellers Collection gift package comes with pints of six of the brand’s most popular flavors. Options include Brambleberry Crisp, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Darkest Chocolate, Salty Caramel, Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks, and Pluto Bleu, a fruity orange flavor. Jeni’s products aren’t shipped in a basket; instead, Jeni’s ice cream arrives in an insulated box containing dry ice to ensure that the ice cream is still cold when it arrives. Packages are in transit for a maximum of 48 hours before arriving at the recipient’s doorstep.
For the cookie lovers on your list, the Harry & David Deluxe Holiday Cookie Gift Basket will likely satisfy their sweet tooth. With 47 cookies packaged in a reusable woven basket with a red ribbon, this basket may be appropriate for a big family with multiple children. Cookie flavors include apple raisin oatmeal, double chocolate chunk, peanut butter chocolate chunk, snickerdoodle, lemon shortbread, macadamia nut chocolate chip, white chocolate raspberry, and more. It’s packed with variety, and all the cookies are baked in small batches in-house at the Harry & David bakery.
With all the choices available, choosing the best gift basket can be a bit overwhelming, so you may still have some questions. The answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about gift baskets follow.
Q: Do people still buy gift baskets?
Absolutely! Though it’s a practice with a long history, modern companies make it even easier to deliver thoughtful gifts to loved ones.
Q: What is in a gift basket?
The contents of a gift basket vary widely from sweets like chocolate and cookies to savory snacks like charcuterie meats and cheeses. In short, almost anything can be in a gift basket!
Q: Can a gift basket be delivered if no one is home?
It depends on which delivery service the company uses; buyers often can choose to deliver without a signature or to notify the recipient. However, the basket’s contents may dictate the delivery options. (For example, baskets with alcohol require someone at least 21 years of age to be present to accept the gift.)