Even before Halloween night, the stores in Toronto were getting out the Christmas and Hannukah decorations and along with our daily newspapers, we were receiving glossy brochures filled with a wide variety of gift baskets.
Gift cards are increasingly popular as they allow the receiver to choose what they want, but if you are looking for a more personal, fun and affordable gift option, consider making your own gift baskets for loved ones.
Unlike the ones you buy which are usually extremely costly, and contain a lot of filler, you can make ones perfectly suited for friends and family on your gift list, and with a little thought and creativity, you can create beautiful baskets on a tight budget.
To keep costs down:
*Look for gourmet food manufacturers, kitchenware and other companies that have discount warehouses or outlets.
*Before you run to specialty food stores and expensive boutiques, check local grocery stores and chain stores like Sears, The Bay, Canadian Tire, etc. for high-end products that you may be able to find at better prices.
*Dollar stores are great places to find basic items, as well as cellophane and ribbons for wrapping and decorating.
Think outside the "basket" for a vessel for your gifts. Instead of a wicker basket, choose:
*A wine cooler
*A decorative waste-paper basket
*A large metal collander
*A plant box
*A multi-purpose plastic container
Start with a theme that suits each person best:
*Fitness (ex. weight-lifting gloves, a water bottle, fitness towel, workout music, protein bars, yoga class pass, etc.)
*Sushi (rice, chopsticks, soy sauce, pickled ginger, nori, etc.)
*Gardening (gardening gloves, small gardening tools, kneeling pad, etc.)
*Baking (ex. assortment of whole grain flours, baking chocolate, baking mixes, small cake or muffin tins, cookie cutters, etc.)
*Cooking (ex. assortment of exotic spices and condiments and a few cooking utensils)
*Eco Herb Garden (ex. seeds and equipment needed to make an indoor, organic herb garden)
*Do-it-Yourself (ex. make an assortment of mason jars filled with the dry ingredients so he/she can make your favorite cookies or scones or make your own spice/seasoning blends for someone who loves to cook)
Making your own gift baskets is fun and I guarantee that anyone who receives one will love it!
Wildly Delicious gourmet food warehouse sale on from Nov. 2 - December 22: www.wildlydelicious.com
Discounted toys and books at the Samko & Miko warehouse sale at various locations in the GTA: www.samkosales.com