Thursday, December 13, 2007

Frugal Gift Guide: Pretty DIY Baskets (Last-Minute Specials)

Pre-packaged gift baskets: $45 and up. DIY: $10 and under. I once made gift baskets that were placed in a little gift shop in an area hospital and a little boutique. I kept my day job, but I learned a lot about gift baskets.
BTW: This post was prompted by a post called: Lack of Time = Crappy Christmas Presents? From Make Love Not Debt .

Cheap, Easy and Pretty Gift Baskets
(aka Last-Minute Gift Ideas):
1. Pick a theme: Movies? Home Spa? Cheese 'n Fruit? Candy? Coffee and Tea? Gardening?

2. Shop for ideas. Get visual tips from magazines, catalogues, floral shops and online.

3. Buy inexpensive baskets: Dollar stores have festive baskets for a buck a piece. Thrift stores also have lots of baskets (new or in good condition) for super cheap prices. Also craft stores have periodic sales on baskets.

4. Shop the sales. Hit the clearance section for high-end treats at low prices. For example, at Marshall's I've found gourmet coffee beans, candies and designer bath supplies at super cheap prices. These items look elegant and expensive when arranged in a pretty basket. Also shop the sales at high-end gourmet food shops and natural food stores. Even Starbucks has discounted mugs and trinkets at the sales table.

Other specialty stores also feature rotating sales of chocolates, wines, cheeses and other gourmet treats that are perfect for holiday baskets.

6. Consider the recipient. If a friend is really into baking or gardening, create a special basket with accessories or treats based on their hobby. For instance, for a gardener: seed packets, garden supplies, gardening gloves or a small-how to book on gardening.
7. Buy pretty wrapping supplies: Cellophane paper, ribbons and tags (homemade or otherwise) can really make or break a gift basket. It's not hard to make it look pretty and professional. I have found super cheap wrapping supplies on

8. Set up an assembly line: When we make gift baskets, we line up the supplies on our dining room table and set up an organized system for filling, stuffing and wrapping. This division of labor is efficient and everyone gets very professional about filling their specific function.

Here's a proposed shopping list for a bath spa gift basket:

1. Basket $1

2. Pretty soaps: $1-$3. On, I spotted gift soaps with prices starting at 72 cents. I have also found great deals at Walgreens, CVS and Marshalls.

3. Bath crystals: Available for under $1.50 in pretty packets.

4. Bath oils (see photo): I found a set of 12 for $3.75 (use all or split up the package and use for several baskets).

5. Bath brushes & other trinkets: Here's a pretty set for $5.25 and I have seen lower prices.

6. Scented candles: $1 . We once found a great sale on scented votive candles for 20 cents each.

Other gift ideas:

1) a mixing bowl packed with fresh baked cookies, recipes and assorted kitchen tools.

2) a large clear cosmetic bag stuffed with body creams, elaborate soaps and other day spa treats.

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