Let your creativity shine: One-of-a-kind baskets make great gifts

By Chander Holland
Times-News correspondent

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Gift baskets, like this Spa Day one, are easy and affordable gifts for those on your holiday shopping list. [Chandler Holland / Times-News correspondent

   The beautiful gift baskets displayed in holiday   shop windows might look too expensive to add to   your holiday list. Would you believe that a quick   visit to the dollar store will provide everything you   need to create a stunning custom gift basket for   anyone on your holiday list? For between $10 and   $15, you can easily select enough items to fill a   container to overflowing. When you finish off your   creation with shrink wrap and a bow, your   handmade gift will delight everyone.
To begin, make a list of your recipients grouped by   age and interest. Next, decide on the different   themes for which you will be shopping. A Cocoa   Deluxe theme is always a hit. Include a couple of   seasonally decorated mugs, hot chocolate mix, mini   marshmallows, small candy canes, a pretty spoon   and a package of cookies to create the perfect gift   basket for almost anyone on your list.
In addition to the Spa Day gift basket (pictured),   other themes might include Perfect Playtime, filled   with toys, games and puzzles. Writer’s Anonymous, with a generous number of office supplies, or Green Thumb, with planters, seeds, gloves and a trowel. More ideas include a Gourmet Kitchen basket, Mr. or Ms. Fix-It, Tech Kit, Arts and Crafts, Pet Lovers, Movie Night and Sweet Tooth. The list is practically endless.
Purchasing items with not only a similar theme, but a monochromatic palette, will give your basket a cohesive look. Your container could be a new or vintage basket, or anything that can sufficiently hold all the items you select. However, the basket isn’t simply to pack the gifts in, but is a part of the gift itself. For Spa Day, the brightly colored plastic bin is perfect for storing items in the bathroom, on the counter or in a cabinet, once the basket is opened. For a toy and game theme, a folding storage cube will help corral items in the playroom. An office or school supply-themed gift could be presented in a small mesh trash can. For a kitchen-themed gift, a small cooking pot or mixing bowl would be a great container. The idea is to think well beyond the “classic” basket.
To begin assembling your gift, stuff your container with tightly balled-up newspaper. This will allow your items to remain visible, rather than hidden in the bottom of your container. If your container is see-through, line the inside with colored tissue paper before inserting the newspaper. Next, arrange your items with the largest in back and smallest in front, creating a visually pleasing display. At this point, crumpled tissue paper or colorful “shred” can be added to close any gaps between items. Once the basket is arranged, place it in a shrink-wrap bag and use a twist tie to close the top. A hair dryer set on low should be moved quickly over the entire surface, including the bottom, until the shrink wrap is taut. If your package is much smaller than your bag, trim excess plastic gathered at the top. The final step is to add a seasonal bow and gift tag.
Personalize the baskets you make to best suit those special people for which you are willing to go the extra mile, but don’t let it be all hard work. Enjoy your time creating these one-of-a-kind gifts. Let your creative spark shine, and it will show in each and every gift basket you make.

Chandler Holland is a home-school graduate and Teens & 20s writer. She looks forward to attending Warren Wilson College, and will obtain her NC Environmental Educator Certification during her gap year.

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