I love gift baskets. They are festive, generous, and with a little imagination can be a quickly assembled collection of items that will delight the recipient. You can also be as thrifty or extravagant as your budget allows.
Look no further than your local grocery store for inspiration. I like to think of the basket as a collection of "splurges"-- those items that don't regularly make it to the grocery list but feel like a treat. You can collect a wide variety of items or create a theme. Favorites to consider: special tea or coffees, tins of hot chocolate, popcorn, wine or other spirits, exotic chutneys or regional hot sauces, jars of fruit preserves, special crackers, stuffed or pickled olives, artisanal olive oil, tins of imported foods, cookies, decorative candies and bars of chocolate.
Check out the dishware aisle for a pretty or functional bowl (or the traditional basket) to hold your gift items. A new set of dish towels would make a practical wrap. Put a bow on it and you've created a gift for someone who otherwise "has everything", and now a smile on their face as well.
If you have time, I recommend a trip to an import store such as Cost Plus. There are baskets galore there, plus an even wider array of imported or exotic foodstuffs to stuff into the basket. Try some of their scone or pancake mixes, tins of peppermint bark, and festive mugs or stemware to round it out.
A personally selected gift basket is a thoughtful and fun to assemble gift. As few as three items is very pleasing to the eye. Got your own ideas to share, or a basket you received and loved? Tell us about it in the comments, please, and I'll make a note of it in my "gift idea" file for the future.
Next up: stocking stuffers!