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If you are losing steam on holiday shopping or struggling to keep the Christmas spirit alive, these DIY gift basket ideas just might be the creative boost you need to wrap up the year! (See what I did there?).
Last week we talked about worthwhile subscription services, many of which come in a box. So, this week we are going over how to make your own little subscription box for a friend, coworker, family member, neighbor, or dog.
If you ever feel lousy just buying a gift card and want a way to spice them up just a bit, gift baskets are a great way to include smaller, supplemental gifts.
There's also a visual appeal to the way gift baskets are presented, making many small or even less expensive gifts look more attractive.
Instead of paying a site like CrateJoy, score points in the homemade and thoughtful categories with these DIY gift basket ideas that can save you money and bring you joy when you curate them!
Maybe you’re thinking, what’s wrong with a gift bag or wrapped presents? Nothing, of course. But there’s something appealing about a customized gift basket’s presentation. It’s the wow factor for me.
What’s great about DIY gift baskets is you don’t need expensive items or a bunch of them to create a heartwarming and thoughtful ensemble.
If you'd rather not go out and buy a brand new basket, I mentioned in my thrift store tips blog that I always look for cute baskets when thrift.
But even though we call it a gift basket, technically you can use any device or object to display your gift collection.
Baskets, boxes, small wagons, or even large jars will suffice for a fun and creative way to bundle gifts. If you’re feeling extra festive, buy or make a large stocking from an old knit sweater. Personalize it for whoever you gift it to, stuffed to the brim with a few of their favorite things.
Once you get the carrier part figured out, the next step is to gather some fun tissue paper, crinkle cut filler paper shreds, or possibly bubble wrap to provide cushion for your gifts to layer comfortably.
Just a tip, you always want to stack the bigger and heavier items on the bottom of every gift basket.
For decoration, pick up some twine, bows or ribbons, gift tags, or even some pretty cellophane.
However, even if you include a gift tag, a handwritten card is still a nice touch!
DIY Gift Basket Ideas Based on the Receiver
Whether you’re designing a gift basket for your employees and coworkers, a newlywed couple, an expectant mother, or the father-in-law who already has everything, a gift basket really can be curated for anyone.
I do recommend setting a budget for each person you are giving a DIY gift basket to, though, as even small gifts and homemade items can add up.
To help, create a list for each person and their likes so you can estimate items you plan to purchase as well as how many and how large the baskets need to be.
I don’t care if you think you’re the least creative person you know. Once you get started, you’ll have so much fun creating these DIY gift baskets you’ll have to rein yourself back!
For Your Spouse or a Married Couple
A gift basket intended for more than one person not only saves you time and supplies, it brings people together.
For married folks, there isn't much they don't share. Whether that's ideas and conversation or physical possessions.
But even the most bonded couples need a boost. Why not give your married friends a basket of fun gifts that encourages togetherness?
You could get super crafty and make dice or cards with date night adventures (ideas here) or engaging conversation topics. If your creativity is all burnt out, Amazon has you covered.
Fill their gift basket with card sets for date nights, matching t-shirts, two-player games like The Fox and the Forest or Throw Throw Burrito, a small fondue set, a candle or two, their favorite snacks and drink or maybe just a gift card for takeout!
Remember, creativity and thoughtfulness go a long way.
For example, I put a date night-in box together recently and included a mini Le Creuset croquette as well as a recipe for dessert. Instead of gifting a recipe book or even a page, I printed it, cut it out with scalloped edge scissors, and glued it onto black stock paper. Handmade simplicity speaks volumes.
For the Fitness Freak
We all have a fitness friend. Every Instagram story regales their gym progress. They can't stop talking about their macros and gains.
You don't have to love exercise as much as they do to be a good friend. Just feed their addiction a little more.
If they drink a plant-based protein shake like Ka'Chava (read more about it in my healthy road trip snacks post), a Blender Bottle is a necessity. The wire whisk ball breaks up powders so pre-workout shakes are ready to drink in an instant.
Stretchy exercise bands are basically like hair ties for a fitness freak. They're so easy to lose, you always need more. With an extra set that comes in a little pouch, they can keep one in their car just in case they leave the other at home.
One doesn't have to be into boxing or MMA to use gloves. Hand wraps and light fighting gloves are always needed for a short cardio routine on the heavy bag.
No matter how strong or tough your hands might be, it's best to protect them with light padding.
Has your friend recently been working from home, or leans toward home gym workouts?
A fitness ball can improve posture and strengthen your core by sitting upright on it for long periods. For a creative exerciser, they can also make up probably 20 different exercises with just one fitness ball alone!
To fit in your fitness-themed DIY gift basket, make sure to order one that comes in a deflated package but with a hand-pump like this one, so they can get a good pre-workout in. ;)
For the Avid Adventurer
The travel itch is real, for some more than others.
For a friend constantly on the go and looking for the next bucket list experience, fill their gift basket with endless travel inspiration. The more personally you know them and their travel ambitions, the more specific you can be with your gifts.
Is Peru top on their list? Find decor or clothing items crafted there! Are they saving their pennies? Get them a wanderlust-themed change jar. You get the picture.
Making lists is about as therapeutic to me as travel is. Someone gave me this Travel Listography journal a few years back and I've enjoyed the wild ideas it's given me for my next big adventure.
Does your friend check their bags when they travel? They'll love a cute luggage tag set to set them apart.
If your travel junkie friend is a visual go-getter, this bucket list scratch-off poster will be the stimulation they need to set out and conquer their travel goals.
Or, for a classier display their guests can also enjoy, gift them a pack of national park art posters they can frame and gaze at wonderingly every day.
Going on a trip together? You need matching t-shirts, duh!
For the Expecting Mother
I haven't been a mother yet. But I know that pickles, cozy socks, a hospital bag, belly butter, and nausea medicine are usually among the many things needed when a woman begins her journey to motherhood!
Every pregnancy is different. You might need to do a bit of sleuthing with a pregnant woman's husband before gathering your gifts.
Consider what trimester she's in. Does she have trouble sleeping? Any scent aversions or seriously odd cravings (if she says dirt, don't get her dirt, just saying)? Is this her first child?
In general, an aromatherapy pillow spray to induce the drowsy hormones is always a good idea.
If your friend is nervous about everything, or just loves documenting, get her a special pregnancy journal so she can express all her thoughts and practice enjoying each stage.
Not everyone woman gets morning sickness, but many do. Besides, having a peppermint or ginger candy on hand really isn't going to hurt.
For more filler items, consider scentless lotions and candles, a spa gift card or facial mask, a robe or fuzzy slippers, and any favorite snacks. She'll need all the creature comforts and relaxation she can get leading up to delivery!
For the Dog Lover (or the Dog)
Did your friend get a new puppy? Do you happen to love someone's dog more than you actually love them? No judgment, dogs are the absolute best and we don't deserve them.
If you're keeping it simple, a pack of tennis balls, an extra collar or leash, and dog grooming supplies are all great, practical gifts your dog-friend will appreciate. But there's other creative options, too.
Unless your canine-loving friend or family member has a hypoallergenic dog (basically anything with poodle or doodle in its breed), they will welcome lint rollers with open arms.
And while not every dog owner puts as much emphasis into healthy dog food, it's better to be safe than sorry and put organic or all natural treats in your dog-themed DIY gift basket.
If you or your dog-loving friend hike with their dog often, a portable water dispenser is a must! Conveniently designed with a wrist strap and leakproof, these handy water bottles are a given for active dog owners who take their pups everywhere.
Dogs can get quite bored if left alone for too long, especially puppies. Boredom, unfortunately, can lead to destructive behavior. To encourage mental stimulation, interactive toys like this treat-hiding brick game is a good way to get them to focus on something other than being alone.
Samson is pretty content to lay on our bed most the day, but I enjoy watching him get after this toy and fixate on uncovering every hidden treat.
Pro tip: fill each spot with peanut butter to make them spend even longer with the toy. This can wear them out and cause them to rest easier when you're away!
Pick up the poop! Yes, dogs poop just like we do. Poop bags and a convenient, belt-loop dispenser will ensure that the dog poop doesn't end up somewhere embarrassing.
For Outdoorsy Folk
Maybe it's a hunter you know or just a backpacking introvert who prefers nature over people (again, no judgment), give them a gift they'll actually use!
Granted, everyone should probably have a first aid kit on hand in their cars and homes. But if your friend spends ample time in nature, they're bound to need it a bit more often.
Most likely, if they're a fan of living off the land, they will appreciate ec0-friendly and reusable utensils they can simply rinse off and stowaway in their glove box.
I actually use my kit at work all the time because I hate using and throwing away plastic utensils on the reg.
For a gift basket centerpiece, outdoorsy folk will love a portable water filter they can use while camping near rivers and streams.
Head lamps, Jetboil burners, freeze-dried food packs, bungee cords, extra tent stakes, and pocket knives are also winners for this type.
For (Most) Women
With women, it isn't about whether we need something or not.
We could have infinite candles, chocolates, fuzzy socks, lip balm, cute mugs, tea or coffee, sticky notes, bath collections, sleep or facial masks, and all in various colors and styles.
Stuff any or all the above into a well-padded and extra-tissued gift basket and you've got yourself a gift just about any girl will adore.
If your girl friend is looking for natural perfume, especially one that's easy to travel with, the Pacifica rollers are perfect. My favorite is the Persian Rose, which is available at this link along with several other scents.
And if she's an office gal, she will absolutely appreciate daily inspiration she can keep on her desk while on the clock.
For (Most) Men
Some may argue men are harder to buy for because they don't need "one in every color" like women do. But that's not to say they don't like variety, too!
Does a boyfriend or brother of yours like music? Does he play any instruments? Guitar picks and strings are always needed for guitarists. There's even this cool gadget for them to make their own picks:
Does he collect anything? Baseball cards or Lego sets? Is he into comic books?
What about technology? USB Drives are usually on sale this time of year and just about anyone can use an extra one!
Other male-inspired DIY gift baskets can be packed with a guy's favorite snacks, small tool sets (although if you don't know, don't get it), house slippers, manly soaps and scents, and facial hair grooming kits (if applicable).
A word of caution: be careful with clothes. Unless you really know a guy's size and style, best to avoid clothes even if you think they'd look great on him.
For Game Night Gurus
After we got engaged and started building our wedding registry, Andrew and I were so excited to add board games. We love game nights whether it's just the two of us or a whole crowd.
If you are designing a DIY gift basket for a big family or a couple who loves to host game nights, throw together a basket of must-haves for their next event.
In our home, it's now a tradition to start every game night off with a fun mad lib or two. If players aren't familiar with each other, mad libs are a great way to break the ice and get everyone laughing and ready for competition.
Brain teasers are not only great ways to create engagement amongst your guests, they can double as excellent statement pieces when they're not in use.
An automatic card shuffler or dice tower is a fun game night accessory, and probably a conversation piece as well.
Although it's on the pricey side, you could technically use this game night bag as the gift basket itself and fill it with a few fun games or just snacks!
Speaking of snacks, a game night isn't really complete without fresh popcorn! Throw in some extra popcorn flavorings and your game night gift basket is a success.
For a Hostess or Homemaker
Do you have one of those friends who's just good at everything around the house?
Their plants are flourishing. Every item is immaculately clean, decorated, and organized. They can make a mean casserole and every time they "throw something together" it tastes and looks like an angel touched it.
Yeah, we hate to love those people. But to show them how much you care for them and their talent, give them a gift basket full of useful gadgets to show you have their precious time in mind!
For everyday wear around the home, at the farmer's market, or even working the garden, just look how adorable this apron wrap is!
If your homemaker friend is always in the kitchen, then they need a silicone garlic peeler. I was skeptical at first, but let me tell you, this tiny kitchen tool is a big time-saver!
And for the person who always has a well-stocked fridge but needs to save on space, silicone food huggers are the newest trend we've all been missing. They keep avocados, apples, onions, and other half-sliced fruits and veggies fresh and covered until their next use.
If your favorite hostess is a clean freak and prefers natural products, stuff their basket with a basic Mrs. Meyers set. I love their summer scents but the Iowa Pine is always a winner around the holidays.
For Artists and Book Lovers
Have a friend in need of some creative downtime? Know an introvert who would rather spend time creating rather than conversing?
Show them how well you know them with a quality paintbrush set and watercolor book for them to follow along.
Or, maybe they'll like trying something new to design and display on their new gallery wall. Embroidery hoops aren't just for grandma anymore. There are many modern and beautiful patterns like the one below.
Is your friend always talking about the latest book they read? Feed their hungry minds with another book or bookish things in a holiday gift basket.
Most avid readers nerd out over book sets, special editions, or any cover that will look gorgeous on their bookshelf.
I personally love C.S. Lewis literature and his novels. Having any of his books on a shelf automatically improves the shelf quality!
If you're looking for an alternative to a basket, this cute book tote would be a great way to present your holiday gifts to your book-loving friend!
Along with a book or two, you can fill their Fully Booked tote with a quirky sign, a handy book light they can take camping, or a funny bookmark or two (since they probably need more).
For Car Enthusiasts
Taking care of our vehicles is a normal chore for most of us, but for some, it's a hobby and a passion.
Neat keychains, a steering wheel cover, a quirky sunshade, or a complete car cleaning kit will be received with gladness from your fellow car enthusiast.
For the Caffeine Addict
Coffee drinkers, unite! Let's be honest, most of us are coffee addicts these days, the rest of you are just living in denial ;)
While most caffeine fans already have their routines, you can never go wrong with a few unique gifts.
Gourmet chocolate covered espresso beans and interesting syrup flavors should pique their curiosity.
If they're in need of coffee on the go, the AeroPress espresso maker is a camping essential. Because no one should settle for instant coffee!
And just for kicks, why not throw in a hilarious prescription mug to just call them out on their caffeine addiction!
Top off the basket with some new roasted grounds and they'll be running to their coffee bar as soon as you leave.
Gardening is difficult where I live. So I commend anyone to even attempt it while residing in the desert.
However, if your friend is a gardening guru, fill their gift basket, or gardening bag, with things that will make their jobs just a bit easier.
Gardening tools, seed packets for flowers and herbs, row markers, a small irrigation system, live succulents, and a watering can (which could also double as the gift basket itself!), make a practical gift for a practical person!
For a Child
I saved the easiest for last. In my opinion, kids are usually easy to please.
While they do enjoy opening a wrapped present, they will love receiving an overflowing basket or crate of colorful, wonderful things just for them as well!
Be kind, though, and keep their parents in mind. Squeaky, noisy toys or toy weapons might not always be appreciated.
A DIY gift basket for a kid should include something they can read (or be read to), something that encourages learning, something they can cuddle, something they can wear, a toy they can play with, and/or, a special treat they can gobble down.
Who had at least one Little Golden Book when they were a kid? Bring back that nostalgia for your niece, nephew, or whoever with this classic collection.
Gift them a plush toy that supports the respectful treatment of wildlife, like the brand Wild Republic.
There are many puzzles and learning games to choose from. Whether it's a matching game, letters and spelling, or counting, the below should at least get the ball rolling for them!
Final Thoughts on DIY Gift Basket Ideas
In all honesty, gift receiving is not my love language (more about those and other personality tests here). But I love to give! Which is why gift baskets are easier for me to put together.
However, even if you are completely confident in your DIY gift basket skills, you should always include a gift receipt.
You never know if someone already has a gift or would rather exchange an item for something else they really need. And that's OK!
The whole purpose of a gift basket is to create a fun, thoughtful gift. But ultimately, you want your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors to be happy, whatever that means.
Remember, it really is the thought that counts. A few items can go a long way, especially when they're all dressed up in homemade gift basket.
I didn't mention it, but it goes without saying that baked goods like sourdough, pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, fudge and other treats are always appreciated. You might spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but you'll definitely save some cash by making it yourself.
Even artisan meats or jerky, cheeses, nuts, and canned goods like pickles can be a great gift basket for a foodie friend.
Whatever basket you curate, I hope you enjoy the entire process and go make someone's Christmas the best ever! Making them is only half the fun, after all.