Excerpt for Make Inexpensive Gift Baskets That Look Expensive by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Make Inexpensive Gift Baskets That Look Expensive

Ingrid Talpak

Published by More Style Than Cash Publishing on Smashwords

Copyright 2017 Ingrid Talpak

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licenced for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, them please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

ISBN 978-0-9948865-2-1

Table of Contents


How to use this book

Chapter One - Starting out, Organization, Storage, Pricing your baskets

Chapter Two - Different types of basket and containers and where to buy them

Chapter Three - Using Shred, Glue dots, Cellophane, Cling film, and Shrink wrap

Chapter Four - Decorative details in gift baskets, Ribbons, Bows, Toppers, Tags, Wrapping, and Bags

Chapter Five - Filling your basket with food and goodies

Chapter Six - Starting your gift basket business

Chapter Seven - Marketing your business

Chapter Eight - Building your gift baskets

Gift Basket Tutorials

Traditional Fruit Basket

Small Fruit Basket - Ready to Eat

Tea and Biscuits Gift Basket

Surprise Gift Basket

Tea and Tranquility Gift Basket

Fat Quarters Gift Basket

Ribbon Wrapping Gift Basket

Books and Bowls Gift Baskets

Cookie Making Gift Basket

Pancake and Waffles Gift Basket

Cookie Decorating Gift Basket

Spa Gift Basket with Robe

Pasta Gift Basket

Mixed Bar Gift Basket

Spa Tower

Food Tower

Munchies Gift Basket

Large Snack Gift Basket

$5 Christmas Candy Gift Basket

$3 Small Christmas Gift Basket




A beautifully put together gift basket can be an extraordinary thing to receive. Filled with delectable delights, unusual treats, or pampering luxuries, there is a gift basket that will please the individual tastes of almost everyone.

Putting together gift baskets professionally when I worked as a florist taught me all sorts of insider tips and tricks that I use now when making gift baskets for friends, family, collogues, and charities. There is just something so opulent about a gift basket, not just one gift but many, and as you pull out your gifts each new piece in the gift basket is a delight…or it should be.

Some people mistakenly try to do gift baskets on the cheap and unfortunately it shows. The surprising fact is that professional gift baskets can be quite inexpensive to put together even though they look expensive. There are the insider secrets of where to buy supplies, how to put the baskets together and how to fill them with fabulous items that you have sourced out on the cheap. These are the tricks I want to teach you.

Whether you are planning to make gift baskets as a business or if it is something you want to learn how to do so you can wow your friends and family this is the knowledge that you need to know to be successful.

If you already have a gift basket business then this book will help you refine the skills you need in putting them together and finding clients.

Gift baskets are fun to make and there is a real sense of accomplishment when you pull together something that looks extraordinary. This is a skill to learn, it’s not just plonking a group of things you bought into a basket and hoping it will look nice.

I hope you enjoy learning this new skill and I know that you will be making gift baskets that will look great and bring so much joy to the people that receive them.

Ingrid Talpak August 2017

How to Use This Book

There are many photos of gift baskets throughout this book and with a few exceptions I show you how to put them together photo by photo in Chapter 8.

If you go directly to Chapter 8 you will miss some the explanations that I have about why or how I put certain gift baskets together, so if you flip to the back make sure that you return to the earlier chapters.

While some of you may have bought this book to learn money saving secrets for your gift-giving, others are looking at starting a business or a career in gift baskets. I have separated my advice between Hobbyist Non-commercial Gift Giving and Business but I urge you to read both the Hobbyist and Business advice regardless of which section you need right now as I give advice in both that can be useful.

One of the big differences is that a Hobbyist can include home made food items, liquor and other items that a business needs permits to do so. A successful gift basket business needs to always take in account the money used and the time spent. Both can learn from each other.

Finally, I have had many people reach out to me to ask specifics on where to buy products or how to get permits. As I am writing this book for world wide distribution I can’t know all the stores, rules, regulations, or laws throughout the world but at the end of sections I have included words that you can Google to find products or more information and I have added links to websites.

These are, for the most part, North American business, and while I have not done business with them I am including them so you will have examples to look at. When you start building up your own supplier list you might include some of these businesses or find others that are more suitable for you. I have tried to have a diverse of a list as possible with three examples for each section but some of the larger suppliers might be repeated.

Return to Table of Contents

Chapter one

Starting out, Organization, Storage, Pricing your baskets

You need to know how the professionals pull their gift baskets together and how they price them out even if you are doing this as a hobby to save money on your gift giving.

If you are doing this as a business then you need to get into good habits right from the get go. There is nothing that can torpedo a budding business faster than bad planning or deciding to wing it.

Gift baskets start with an idea and theme, generally about pampering, food, or useful things. In these categories, there are many sub categories. Food baskets could be about chocolates, beer, fresh fruit, or it would be themed around a food district such as Italian, French, Greek or a holiday like Christmas, Valentine’s or Mother’s Day. Useful gift baskets would include a house warming gift basket, a hobby basket (knitting for example), or a gift basket for a newborn baby.

Figure 1: Fat Quarters Gift Basket

You should start looking at individual items and think how you could build a gift basket around them.

A pair of small decorative scissors could be incorporated into a beginner’s fat quarter sewing gift basket with a pin cushion, pins and cloth tape measure.

Figure 2: Ribbon Wrapping Gift Basket

Or use the same unique scissors in a giftwrapping gift basket with vibrant ribbons and gold seals.

You should start collecting ideas from other gift basket makers that you see online and on Pinterest. You won’t be following these baskets slavishly but be using them for ideas. Even if you don’t like the products or presentation of their gift basket the theme might be good.

Look around where you are right now and try to think of 4 or 5 different basket ideas from something that is nearby.

I am sitting in my dining room as I write this and there is a pair of glass candlesticks on the side board. The types of gift baskets I could use them in include a posh dinner basket, a spa basket, a candle basket, or a wine basket.

On another table in the dining room there is my blue and white pottery collection. From a pretty little blue and white container I imagine a pot pourri basket, a chocolate basket, a soap and spa basket, and a tea and tranquillity gift basket.

Figure 3: Tea and Tranquility Gift Basket

Learning how to do this is an immeasurably useful skill because as you start buying for your gift baskets you will see amazing deals on items and if you can think of a way to build a great basket around them then you will be able to make fabulous baskets cheaply.

You also need to know when to walk away as much as when to buy. Cost shouldn’t be the only reason something ends up in a gift basket that you make. There will be times that you might find something at 90% off but it just isn’t the style of gift you would give.

Buying for your gift baskets can be an enormous amount of fun but before you run off to shop there are a few things to consider.

Organizing Your Work Space

Regardless of whether you are doing this as a hobby or business you need to figure out where you will be working and make sure that you have the space to achieve what you want.

A room that is cramped and dark can be depressing and frustrating to work in. A bright room with plenty of storage and surfaces can make putting together a gift basket easier.


Decide where are you going to store all the stuff that you are going to need to make up your baskets. If you are thinking of doing this professionally you will want to designate a room or part of a room to keep all your supplies. Even if this just going to be a fun hobby you will need a closet or space where you will be able to stash everything.

You will need to have right amount of space for your supplies.

When you first start sorting out a storage area you have to keep in mind that you need to see all the supplies that you have.

The items that you use regularly should be within arm’s reach and if you are storing items in high places there should be a sturdy foot stool or ladder nearby that is convenient to use. Also, deep shelving is not a good idea as so many things can get lost in the back.

Storage should be sorted out right from the beginning so you will have a space to keep your supplies safe, clean, and easily accessible. There are some items that you will need on hand at all times and then there are other items that you can buy as you need them (such as specific colored ribbons).

Placing supplies in boxes is not a good idea unless there is a picture of the supplies on the outside of the box and you continuously mark on the box how many items are left inside. I like using large transparent plastic leaf bags to store my larger items, that way I can easily see what I have and they stay clean and dust free.

As you start working on your gift baskets you will find many of your organizational systems will work very well while others will require some tweaking. Don’t be surprised if you end up re-arranging your storage areas several times in the first year.

Where to put it together

You need a surface that you can use to create the baskets, it could be a desk, a folding table that you can pull out when you need it, a designated table in your craft room or for a business, a large table. What you don’t want to do is overrun your living space (such as your kitchen table) with your gift basket making.

Choose your work space very carefully. You might want to make a list of your dream work space to understand what is really important to you. You will find that no matter how carefully you plan there will be some tweaks you will need to do to your workspace once you have settled into it.

How much is it worth?

You might be so excited that you found these amazing deals on all these posh products that you are going to throw into a gift basket and give to a friend. You spent $25 but it looks like you spent $200! Great, right? Maybe.

We all have spending limits when we give gifts to our family and friends. Most of the time nothing is actually said but we know that the limit might be $30 or $50. When you start giving them gifts that look like they are way beyond that price point it might make them feel that they need to give you more expensive gifts. It can get uncomfortable, even if you tell them that you got it at an amazing deal they will probably feel like they need to reciprocate with a gift of the same value.

If you are making gift baskets to save money then you have to remember that they don’t know how much you have paid for everything. For example, you plan to make your sister-in-law a spa basket worth $50 but you found a 100% white cotton spa robe usually worth $75 on clearance for $10 and now have another $40 to splurge on the basket and goodies.

Figure 4: Spa Gift Basket with Robe

Your finished basket for her will look like it cost well over $100. If that is what you want to go for then great, or you could suggest to another family member that you can go halves with them and the gift basket will be from the two of you, costing only $25 each.

You sister-in-law gets a beautiful spa basket from the two of you and doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the cost of it.

Of course, in business you would snap up as many of these spa robes as you could and charge your customer the $150 or more for the basket, that’s business, you are out there to make a profit.

Some new businesses try to entice customers in with very low prices, this can be hard to maintain and either the customers will bad mouth you when you have to raise your prices or just drift away when they can’t get amazing deals anymore. Choose your price points very, very carefully. You don’t want to be known as a cheap business.

Pricing your baskets

How do you put a price on your gift baskets? Go online and check out what professional gift basket makers in your area are charging. Remember that large gift basket businesses have better buying power than you do and might be getting their products at lower costs because they are buying large amounts.

If you are planning to sell your gift baskets the general markup is 2 to 3 times the cost of all the items used to make it up. Easy enough to do, if you have spent $15 making up a gift basket then you would charge a minimum of $30. But does it look like a $30 gift basket or does it look like a $75 gift basket? If it looks more expensive than it is for goodness sake charge a higher price for it! Sell it for $65 and the people that buy it will think that they just snagged an amazing deal.

While it might seem that a markup of three times the cost of the basket is excessive included in the final price is the cost of labor, rent, insurance, utilities and a host of other items that business owners have to pay for.

You make your money when you buy your products, meaning that if you can buy good quality items cheaply and sell them at a high price you make more profit. That is why it is so important to scope out the best wholesale markets for you to buy from. Not all wholesale dealers are equal, you need to develop a good eye for quality merchandise that you can buy at a great price.

The business of gift basket making

These are just a few rough ideas about your gift basket business, I will be going through it more in its own in Chapters Six and Seven. I wanted you just to get an idea of some of the things that you need to think about so as you start doing this now as a hobby you could transition it into as business. As I mentioned earlier in this chapter you need to get into good habits right from the beginning.

Return to Table of Contents

Chapter Two

Different types of baskets and containers and where to buy them

Gift baskets are called so because they traditionally were made with a basket that all the goodies were placed in. Now almost any container can be used as a gift basket. This gives a huge range of options when you are pulling your gift basket together, the basket part can be integral to the gift or the basket can be a simple vessel that can be recycled or thrown out (preferably recycled).


It depends on the size and cost of your gift basket what you will use as the basket itself. Generally speaking the less expensive and smaller the gift basket the less inexpensive the container should be. It doesn’t make sense spending a lot of money on a container and being forced to scrimp on the items that go in it. I generally spend under $2 for a small basket, under $4 for a medium, and under $6 for a large basket.

Figure 5: Various containers

Florists and gift shops often pull their ideas together from what they might see at gift shows. They buy a season in advance and they buy in bulk. A hobbyist might not have access to these same venues or even the wholesale outlets that they use but you can still shop the way they do.

What a business should be looking for in a container is price, uniqueness and, generally bang for the buck. You want something that people have not seen in stores already.

If the basket or container are flimsy and cheaply made then it will make the whole basket look on the cheap side. There is something about quality that just shines through, you really can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. There are ways on covering up a cheap basket but spending money hiding it when you should have spent the money buying a better-quality item in the first place is a waste of time and money. The exception to this rule is if you are using a flat, or lidded gift boxes as the base of your gift basket.


Flats are shallow cardboard boxes without a lid. If you have ever been in a warehouse style grocery store then you would see that they place the canned goods on the shelves in the cardboard flats that they were shipped in.

Figure 6: Flats

The wonderful thing about flats is for the hobbyist often you can grab them for free from the grocery stores. There is a no frill style grocery store by my home and they throw the flats into huge bins for anyone to use. As they are used to transport cans and other heavy food items these flats are very sturdy. Flats come in a variety of sizes so grab a collection from small to large. Unless you are making a very industrial style presentation they would need to be coved with paper.

Figure 7: Flat covered with gift wrap paper and lined with colored paper

I use wrapping paper and colored paper to cover my flats. The wrapping paper is used on the outside while the colored paper is used inside as a liner. I try not to have wrapping paper that is too busy unless I am using the wrapping paper in the gift basket itself to pull everything together color wise. I use wrapping paper that costs less than 25 cents a foot. Look for wrapping paper on sale after the holidays.

Wholesale wrapping paper can be bought in large rolls called counter rolls. While the size varies they often come 24 inches wide and over 400 feet. It’s a lot of paper. While it is economical you might get bored of that paper very quickly so think carefully before you buy a large quantity.

Google search: gift wrap counter rolls

Wholesale examples:

http://www.nashvillewraps.com/gift-wrap/wrapping-paper/c-006968.html https://www.macpaper.com/packaging/gift-wraps http://www.gogopak.com/Shamrock_Gift_Wrap_Paper_s/2540.htm

Flats can be bought wholesale, they are called Corrugated Cardboard Trays and come in a range of sizes. They will cost anywhere from about 50 cents to 2 dollars depending on the size and whether they are brown or white.

Google search: corrugated cardboard trays

Wholesale examples:




Wrapping a Flat Tutorial

Flats are unattractive so covering them with giftwrap makes them more visually appealing. The outside of the flat is wrapped with giftwrap and the inside is lined with colored paper.

Using gift wrap paper cut a strip 3 inches wider than the side of the flat. If the strip of gift wrap paper is not long enough to wrap totally around the outside of the box cut a second strip. Glue the strip of paper and place the side of the flat on the strip of paper so there is an equal amount of excess paper above and below the top and bottom of the flat. Wrap the strip of gift wrap around all sides of the flat, if needed, use the second strip of gift wrap to cover all sides.

On the bottom of the flat glue the excess wrapping paper to the bottom. The rest of the bottom is covered with colored paper later. Flip over the flat and on the inside top edge glue all the way around 2 inches from the top. Starting on one side press the wrapping paper in, do the same inside on the opposite side of the flat.

On the remaining two insides, fold the paper on an angle at each corner and press the wrapping paper in.

Cut a piece of colored paper to fit the bottom of the flat and glue it on, you might need to use more than one sheet. Take 4 pieces of colored paper fold them over on the long edge about ½ inch less than the height of the flat.

Taking one of the papers that have been folded make another fold of one inch on the unfolded short side. Bring the two folds together to make a corner. Unfold this corner so only the short fold is up.

To make the next corner place the paper with the short fold against the inside bottom edge. Where the paper meets the opposite side of the flat run your finger along the bottom to make a crease. Remove, fold to make it a proper crease and make another corner. Refold the first corner and glue the back of the paper and place into the box. One side of the flat is now papered, repeat this for the other side of the flat.

Taking your third piece of paper glue well on the folded edge. Glue into the box on the long side. Repeat with the last piece of paper. The finished container will be very sturdy and is perfect for heavy items. When making gift baskets with many bottles and cans you must be sure that the basket or container that you use will not break, this type of flat is perfect for that.

Figure 8: Mixed Bar Gift Basket

Lidded Gift Boxes

Lidded gift boxes are great to use because you can use the lid as a second container. The base is used for one gift basket and the top is flipped over and used for another. Well-made boxes can be surprisingly expensive but cheaper than other options such as baskets. This will only work with lidded gift boxes that have deep lids.

Figure 9: Lidded Boxes

When buying, especially online, make sure the price includes both the lid and the bottom of the box and that they are not sold separately.

Google search: wholesale two-piece rigid gift boxes or rigid set-up boxes

Wholesale examples:




Nesting Boxes

Figure 10: Nesting Boxes

Nesting boxes are covered boxes that fit inside of each other like Russian dolls. I often find them at dollar stores and they are great for making tower type gift baskets. Only the smallest box is opened to show what is inside and placed on the top of the tower. This is covered with shrink wrap or plastic film and then stacked on the other boxes that are filled with more treats or goodies. Towers are great when putting together a gift basket that has a lot of items that don’t co-ordinate with your gift basket color scheme. They also look much more imposing than they are because of their height.

Google search: two-piece rigid gift boxes or wholesale nesting boxes.

Wholesale examples:





Wicker baskets are the tradition containers for gift baskets. There are numerous styles, designs and colors to choose from. It the last few years the cost has risen considerably and quality inexpensive baskets are harder to find both in retail and wholesale.

Figure 11: Wicker baskets

Become familiar with how much wicker baskets cost. Search Amazon for wicker baskets and compare the sizes and prices that you find. Remember, very inexpensive baskets are probably not well made. By getting familiar with the prices of wicker baskets you will know if you run across a great bargain when you start buying them.

There are so many places to buy baskets. Hobby stores often have baskets especially seasonal and holiday styles but the prices can be high. Some of the best prices on baskets can be from unexpected stores that are selling baskets because they got a deal on them. My local hardware store had a sale on baskets before Thanksgiving one year, which was a surprise, and I snapped up several. Keep your eyes open in places that you would not normally expect to find baskets.

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