No matter who you're choosing a gift for, you know one thing for sure: They've got to eat. That's what makes a kitchen gift basket an ideal present for anyone from your closest friend to the stranger you were assigned in the company's Christmas gift exchange. A gift basket filled with delicious foods and/or useful kitchen items is something nearly any recipient will love – and you can probably get your gift shopping done while you're picking up groceries.
Consider Kitchen Gift Basket Themes
As you think about cooking gift basket ideas, you'll quickly realize the possibilities are extensive. Choosing a basket theme may help you narrow the options.
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If you're shopping for someone whose culinary tastes you know well, like your spouse, the theme might be as simple as "all [recipient]'s favorite foods. Or, you might want to choose a general direction like "gourmet goodies" or "stylish and useful kitchen tools." (Because of dietary restrictions, selecting entirely non-food items for your basket is probably the best option if you're putting together a gift for someone you don't know well – or if it's for something like a White Elephant party, where you don't know who will get the gift.)
Colors, designs and even specific recipes can also work as themes for a kitchen gift basket. For example, you might use lemons as the theme and choose things like fancy lemon curd, lemon-printed tea towels and lemon-scented hand soap. Or, you might fill a basket with all the ingredients and gadgets the recipient would need to make a specific recipe and include a handwritten recipe card.
Start with a Basket or Bowl
Naturally, the first step in putting together any gift basket is finding the right basket or other sturdy container. Ideally it will be something the recipients can really use in and around their kitchen. A collapsible market basket or stylish reusable grocery tote are both good choices. Or, choose a large pot or bowl as the base of your gift basket. Just be mindful about the size and quantity of items you're going to put into it when choosing your vessel.
If you don't have a theme yet, shopping for the container might even spark some cooking gift basket ideas. For example, you might see an interesting cookie jar and decide to make a cookie-themed basket filled with cookie cutters and fancy decorating supplies. Or, you might find a beautiful wooden salad bowl at a thrift store and decide to put together a salad bowl gift basket filled with things that can be used to make delicious salads. (A word of caution: Be sure the recipients actually like salads before putting together a salad bowl gift basket, or this gift might seem like a coded message about their diet!)
Shop for Fillers
Buying things to put into your kitchen gift basket is the fun part. Your budget, theme and the size of your chosen container will determine how many items you add, and there's really no rule about the "right" number of things to buy as you think about cooking gift basket ideas. You might choose anywhere from three to 10-plus items.
Aim for some variety as you shop. If you're putting together a basket of gourmet foods, choose some things that are sweet, some that are salty and some that are tart. Or, if you're making a basket filled with kitchen tools, mix it up between basic essentials (simple whisks, spatulas, etc.) and a few more quirky items like kitchen towels with "punny" sayings or corn on the cob holders.
If your budget allows, choose at least one "extra" item to finish off the gift like a new cookbook, handy gadget or special local treat. For example, if you're putting together a salad bowl gift basket, you might add a a pair of carved wooden salad tongs made by a local artist or a miniature salad spinner.
Wrap It Up
Arrange everything in your gift basket. If necessary, use a base of crumpled tissue paper to make sure the basket looks full. To keep things from shifting in transit, wrap the basket in a sheet of cellophane tied with a ribbon. Or, hide the contents of the basket – and add one more element to the gift – by wrapping the filled basket in a printed tablecloth.