What is it about gift baskets that makes them seem so impressive? Somehow taking a conglomeration of gifts around a theme, items that would be “nice” but not great wrapped on their own, and packaging them together in a snazzy container can elevate a gift from “meh” to “Marvelous”!
When I traveled down to Walmart Headquarters for the holiday trip this year one of my favorite activities when the Better Homes and Garden’s designer Max taught us about assembling gift baskets! He’s got such a fantastic eye, and always comes up with fun things to do. He showed us several gift baskets he had put together for examples and then we had the opportunity to make our own. We each picked a “theme” from a hat, then we had to choose from several tables of items to make our own baskets and present them to the rest of the group.
You can see me in the collage above (in the black and white there) putting together a cozy living room basket in an awesome galvanized metal bucket (apparently “correctly” called an olive basket). We learned several tips for making an awesome gift basket!
1. Choose a cool container.
2. Stuff the bottom to raise and attractively display your items.
3 Add color with inexpensive embellishments like ribbon or tissue paper.
4. Create levels.
5. Feel free to open packages and split up items.
6. Don’t forget the useful extras–like batteries for flameless candles, or hardware for hanging picture frames.
7. Use a theme to keep it all coordinated–by activity (pool party), color (all cool blues and silvers) or both!
For the holidays Walmart asked me to use what I learned and make a “Home Décor” basket for someone on my Christmas list. I decided that my bachelor brother was the perfect candidate. Like many bachelors his home is more functional than fancy. He has a lot of really nice things–interesting artwork, mementos from world travel, colorful rugs. . . but some things he’s never really bothered to acquire. A couple of years ago he hosted a family Christmas dinner (with his homemade high octane egg nog–yum!) and I remember him saying “If you want tablecloths you’ll have to bring them because I don’t have any!”.
So that was it–I needed to help a classy bachelor outfit his table! It’s just fine and functional for fixing himself a meal (and he’s an amazing cook!) but I wanted to give him what he needed to elevate it a bit if he was having a friend, colleague or special lady over for dinner.
For the basket I chosen one of those fabulous Round Metal Galvanized Bin (I just think it is so cool!) Tuscany Tablecloth (It’s got color & pattern, but not too much color and nothing too girly), Tuscany Napkins (to go with the tablecloth), Solid Ribbed Placemat (in a solid dark brown to layer on top of the tablecloth and below the napkins to make it all pop), and a tray style candle holder set (can be used as a centerpiece but isn’t froofy and won’t block the view of two people across the table).
Since I already had my cool container, I moved on to raising & displaying things. The bucket is sort of narrow and deep–if I had just placed the items inside they’d all be jumbled at the bottom. So I crumpled up pages from a magazine until I had the bucket about 2/3 full. Crumpled up paper isn’t very attractive so I tucked some red tissue paper inside and made sure it went down along the sides so the red showed through the slits in the basket.
I took the tablecloth and the candle holder set out of their packaging, and then tucked a rectangular piece of cardboard into the bucket. That enabled me to stuff and drape the tablecloth around the cardboard to achieve an elevated element that added structurally to the basket and also displayed the tablecloth’s pattern better.
To change things up a bit (and add a different dimension of texture and shape) I chose to roll the placemats into tubes and tuck them to either side of the placemat. Then I placed the board for the candle display (the decorative rocks that are supposed to be on the board are still in their plastic baggie and just dropped down in–there really isn’t a pretty way to show them). The napkins I chose to remain in their cardboard wrapper as it gave some stiffness to the cloth and enabled me to stand them upright. Finally I just tucked the 3 glass votive holders into the front. I realized in order to make this a truly useful gift for a bachelor I need to pop back by Walmart and pick up some tea lights to put in the holders–I’m sure he doesn’t keep them on hand!
Finally to dress it up I took a length of 2″ wide red ribbon from the craft section and tied a nice big bow around the whole thing. I think it looks pretty fantastic!
I hope this gave you all some great ideas for how to put together a useful and attractive basket this holiday. Take some time to wander through the home decorating aisle and the home organization aisle at your local Walmart and look at all the cool baskets, bins, crates and containers they have, I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised and find something you think is great!
Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.