How to Make the Best DIY Gift Basket: Step-By-Step


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Whether it’s a holiday gift or a way to say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” a gift basket is a thoughtful way to show you care. But how can you put together the best, most amazing DIY gift basket for your friend, co-worker, or family member? 

Overview: Our Top Picks

How to Choose What to Put in Your Gift Basket: 40 Ideas

How to Package and Secure Items Your Gift Basket

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Sure, you can buy a pre-made gift basket online or from your local gift shop. You can find them in a variety of themes, including “get well soon,” “happy birthday,” and even “movie night.” 

But a gift basket you create and piece together yourself is even more meaningful. You can tailor your gift basket to perfectly suit your gift recipient and avoid paying for items they’ll never use. 

Below, we’ll show you how to make the best DIY gift basket for any occasion, from sympathy care packages to birthday gifts and more. 

How to Choose What to Put in Your Gift Basket: 40 Ideas

First, let’s look at what you can put in your gift basket. These DIY gift baskets could be perfect for anyone in your life, from close friends to distant relatives and even acquaintances.  

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Sympathy gift basket ideas

When someone in your life loses a loved one, you might want to share your condolences with a sympathy gift basket. Here are some items you can put in your DIY basket: 

A simple journal or notepad will encourage your loved one to jot down some of their emotions, which can help in the grieving process.

Similarly, some decorative stationery will help them feel like they can reach out--to you or to other people--with a written letter whenever they feel alone. 

To go along with all that paper, you should add in some fun-colored pens or pencils. 

If you have a knack for baking, consider adding in some homemade cookies or brownies. There’s nothing that can make someone feel more loved and cared for than home cooking or baking. 

When you’re grieving, it’s easy to forget about healthy eating and just reach for the nearest bag of chips. You can help with that by adding fresh or dried fruit, a vegetable tray, mixed nuts, smoked salmon, cheese and crackers, or other healthy and nourishing foods to your gift basket. 

You can send sympathy flowers as a stand-alone gift, or you can add them to a DIY gift basket. Consider a small arrangement of white roses or lilies in a simple glass vase. 

Caring for a living thing and helping it grow can help soothe feelings of loss and grief. Whereas flowers are bound to die within a few days, a living plant, like a hardy succulent, can last indefinitely. 

Gift cards provide a wide variety of giving opportunities. They’re not the least expensive option, but a gift card could be the highlight of your basket. Consider gift cards for massage or manicure, or for dinner at a local restaurant (ideally one that offers take-out). 

Birthday gift basket ideas

One birthday gift is great, but what about a whole basket of birthday gifts? Here are some ideas for items you can add to a DIY birthday gift basket:

Anyone celebrating a birthday who has a sweet tooth will appreciate a gift basket that has plenty of candy in it. Make sure to choose their favorites if you can. 

For the wine aficionado, consider adding in a bottle of their favorite pinot grigio or something they’ve never tried before. You can top it off with some engraved wine glasses with their name or a funny quote. 

For a best friend or close loved one, you can give the gift of memories. Choose a decorative photo album, and add in a couple of your own favorites to get them started. You could even fill up the whole thing with photos of you together as a memory book

Some of our favorite shows and movies to watch are often those we discovered as children and teens. If you were friends with your recipient back in the day, pop in a DVD of a show or movie you both loved. 

Their birthday is all about them. You can make them feel even more special by adding in self-care items like scented lotions, perfumes and body sprays, and bath bombs.

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Thank you gift basket ideas

To say thank you to a loved one, you might want to send a simple gift basket that you put together yourself. Here are some gift basket ideas that can help you say “thanks”:

As part of your thank-you gift basket, make sure to add a heartfelt thank you note

A scented candle is a simple gift to add to a gift basket that most people will enjoy. Choose an unassuming or comforting scent, like linen or vanilla, unless you know their favorite scent. 

If your basket recipient sent a gift to your family, you can send family photos as part of your gift basket. This helps say “thank you” from your whole family unit. 

You can buy and send pre-made fruit baskets to say “thank you,” or you can put together your own. You might include chocolate-dipped strawberries or a simple arrangement of in-season, fresh fruit. 

  • Location gifts

Another way to say “thank you” is to give your loved one items from your home town. This can make it feel like they’re there with you, even when you’re far away. Consider tourist gifts like t-shirts, coffee mugs, and keychains, as well as any local specialties like smoked salmon or gourmet chocolate.

Office or corporate gift basket ideas

A gift basket can make a perfect gift for the workplace. But what kind of items should you add? Here are some ideas:

Why use a regular, boring mousepad when you could have one that suits your personality? You can include a funny or original mousepad with your corporate gift basket to spruce up a co-worker’s space. 

Most people who work in an office can appreciate gifts of the caffeinated variety, whether that might be English breakfast tea or instant black coffee. 

If you put caffeinated gifts in your basket, consider whether they use creamer or sugar with their beverage. Add something special, like Irish cream or something holiday-themed. 

Of course, no office gift basket is complete without a personalized or unique coffee mug.

Add a small poster for them to put up in their office space. Consider things they love, as well as things that would make them laugh. 

It’s hard to keep a plant alive in a stuffy office building, but you can give the gift of a small, hearty plant. Consider air plants and succulents. 

Other gift basket ideas

A DIY gift basket might be a great gift for even more occasions, from holidays to graduations and anniversaries. Here are some DIY gift basket items we left out: 

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How to Package and Secure Items Your Gift Basket

Whether you’re hand-delivering your gift basket or shipping it to your recipient, you should make sure the items inside are secured properly. Here’s how you can do that. 

Choose a big enough box or basket as a “nest” 

You’ll need a basket or a gift box to serve as the “nest” of your gift basket. If you’re shipping your basket, a square gift box with a removable top may make an easier fit for shipping. 

Surround items in nesting paper

Next, you’ll need to lay down a layer of packaging paper on the bottom of your box or basket. Then, place your larger items in and surround them with shredded “filler” paper. Place the taller items in the back of the basket and the shorter items in front. 

Next, nestle the smaller items in between the large ones and surround them with even more paper. Your goal is to make sure delicate items are only touching paper rather than each other or the sides and bottom of the box. 

For additional padding, you can also wrap the individual items in craft paper, newspaper, or even bubble wrap. 

Shrink-wrap it

You can use either regular cellophane or clear PVC “shrink-wrap” film to wrap up your basket or box. Using shrink film will create a more secure basket and prevent items from moving around. 

There are two ways you can shrink-wrap your gift basket: 

  • Place the shrink-wrap bag or film over the top of your gift basket, so that the open ends are on the bottom.
    • Next, apply a hot-air hair dryer to the wrap. You’ll see it quickly tighten in around the basket and all of the items to hold them in place. 
    • Tuck the open ends of the shrink-wrap bag underneath your basket and heat them up to seal the package. You can then tie a ribbon around the basket if you wish. 
    • This is the most secure way to package your gift basket. 
  • Alternatively, you can place your box or basket into the shrink-wrap bag with the open end on top. 
    • Gather up the excess at the top of the basket, and secure it with a wire ribbon. Then, use a hot-air hair dryer to shrink the wrapping around the basket and the items to hold them in place. 
    • Avoid shrinking the excess at the top of the basket. 

How to Ship Your Gift Basket

A DIY gift basket can easily fall apart if you don’t ship it properly. With that in mind, here are some tips for shipping your gift basket. 

Choose your items carefully

The first step in shipping a gift basket correctly begins when you’re choosing which items to include in the basket. If you’re sending the gift across state lines, for example, you’ll need to understand the regulations about sending food, such as fruit and vegetables. It may be easier to stick with packaged foods like mixed nuts. 

Choose the right box

Next, you’ll need to choose a shipping box that’s not too big and not too small. You want a box that’s big enough for your basket to fit in with an additional three to four inches around the side for insulation. 

Fill it with craft paper

Place a layer of crumpled-up craft paper in the bottom of your shipping box before placing the basket inside. Place the basket in the middle of the box, and then secure it in place with more craft paper around the sides. 

Finally, add a layer of craft paper on top of the gift basket to protect it from the top of the box.  

It’s the Thought That Counts

You’ve taken the time to research the best DIY gift baskets. And that alone means that you care about the person you’re giving the basket to. That care and support are sure to shine through, whether you choose exactly the right items or not. 

Whenever you give a DIY gift basket, it’s truly the thought and effort that counts the most. You might not have the funds to include all of the items you wish you could, but even a few simple gifts can go a long way. 

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