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Holiday Gift Baskets For Customers


Shelby
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I'm looking for new ideas and some advice.

 

Every year for YEARS I've been in charge of making gift baskets for our local customers.  Some of the baskets are put out for all of the employees to share (very small companies) and some are taken home by the manager/owner/head buyer etc.  I think I've been doing this for maybe 10....12...15.... years or more.  Frankly, I'm tired of doing it lol, but they seem to always go over so well that I can't justify not doing it.  I've looked in to buying them pre-made, but (and I'm not bragging here at all, I swear :) ) my baskets are much better than any I've ever found and I can put way more --and better--items in my baskets for less cost.

 

Here are a few examples of past baskets:

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Anyway, during the year I keep an eye open for low-cost baskets and snatch them up when I see them.  This was a huge pain before the internet lol.  I've done hat boxes, wicker, wire...you name it, I've probably used it.  I usually make between 8-12 baskets and they are not small.  I buy shrink wrap that shrink with a hair dryer (that's probably the most fun part of it all lol).

 

With the glut of zucchini that I harvested this year I decided to make and freeze full-size loaves of sour cream zucchini bread.  I first wrapped them in Saran and then foil and then put them in freezer bags. (Really looking forward to getting them OUT of my freezer so I can have more room).   Now, I am second-guessing myself.  Is including this bread an ok idea?  Does it seem cheap and "hokey"?  My idea was to take them out of the foil and put them in a clear bread bag with a cute tie or something and a complete description.......  Any other ideas for something cute to put the bread in?  

 

I'm also looking for any and all ideas regarding items to put in the basket and ways to decorate the basket.

 

Here is this years basket.  I purchased 12 of them at $7.29 a piece including tax and shipping.  By the way I just looked them up again and they are now $12.65 a piece....wha?????? :blink:

 

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I know.  Very plain, but I think I can make them cute.  I was thinking burlap "ribbons" and white wooden snowflakes???  Ideas anyone???  I did red and white "candy cane" last year.

 

Also, any ideas for things to put in them?  In the past I've done combos of this:

 

Salsa (artisan type)

Tortilla chips

In shell peanuts

Mixed nuts in cans

Cutie oranges

3-4 different wedges of cheese (that got a little expensive, but people seemed to really like it)  I'd usually do a smoked gouda, a cheddar and a jalapeño or something

Crackers

Mustard

Big logs of summer sausage

Packages of Grandma's Cookies

Ghariradelli chocolates

Rocher chocolates

 

I wish I had a running thread documenting all of this from when I started. 

 

Sorry so long winded....

Edited by Shelby (log)
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Your baskets are lovely. Given what you have done in the past I trust this year's will be gorgeous.

 

For us the situation is reversed - we receive these from some of my husband's company's customers. (For landlords with lots of property being on good terms with their plumber / HVAC repairman is a good idea.) The ones I like best are often Italian themed (probably the largest ethnicity in our town) - containing some form of exotic pasta, a wedge of good parmesan, good olive oil and balsamic vinegar, pasta sauce (often Rao's), cecchi, amoretti cookies, espresso beans... Not usually all of that at once - I see how this could get pricey - but we really enjoy it. 

 

I think the zuc. bread is fine. I think I would wrap it first in foil and then either in colored plastic wrap or a colored plastic bag, either way with a bow.

 

We give some of our major contacts at suppliers bags of my homemade candy - I make about 18-20 types, mostly chocolate. People are already checking in with my husband to make sure they are still on the list. 

 

Elaina

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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Your basket screams APPLES to me. A few cheerful red apples, apple butter, dried apple snacks, cheddar in dairy form or in cracker form, mulling spices come to mind. 

 

On the bread, I think it would be welcome from a taste perspective, but I would include a brief label with shelf-life/storage instructions along with a simple description.

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Those are wonderful baskets you put together, Shelby!

I second Heidih's suggestion. Doesn't sound as though you have done apples as a theme before. Maybe add a bottle of apple cider or a nice apple cider vinegar?

If your clients are all local then I should think adding the zucchini bread would be absolutely fine and much appreciated (I would love some!) - especially for baskets where you know a small office will be sharing (or perhaps you could just hand a loaf out to those clients separately from the basket if you are worried about combining commercially made with home made for health reg reasons of some kind?). And since it will have been frozen for a while, perhaps you should take a loaf for yourself/husband and/or your own office people (if any) and test it right before you start handing out the baskets to be sure it still tastes as good as fresh once thawed.

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Picking up on ElainaA's idea of Italian themed goodies, it might be nice to include items from various different countries. Must all the baskets be the same? Maybe a different country in each basket? People can swap if they like. Certain items could be standard in all baskets, and then also include items that are unique to each basket revolving around a theme. Not sure if that makes things more complicated or less, but it could be interesting. I think the zucchini bread is a very good idea, in my experience people always love to get home-baked goods.

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Make the zucchini bread the star of the show this year and include lots of spreads for it-jams, Nutella, Kerrygold butter, almond butter, cookie butter.  Apples would be good too in it, lots of spreads can go on them, well, except the butter and jams.  Maybe a loaf of regular homemade bread too.

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Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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Make the zucchini bread the star of the show this year and include lots of spreads for it-jams, Nutella, Kerrygold butter, almond butter, cookie butter.  Apples would be good too in it, lots of spreads can go on them, well, except the butter and jams.  Maybe a loaf of regular homemade bread too.

What about adding a packet of fancy napkins.  Or a Christmas plate (not too expensive.)

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Shelby, I adore your baskets! They do indeed look better than most commercial ones! 

 

I like heidi's apple suggestion (and Deryn's follow up with the ciders) - the current year's basket made me think of apples, also. 

 

You could make some streusel topping and provide a recipe for an apple crisp or similar - maybe something like this Serious Eats article (if you leave the butter out, it should last a good while). 

 

Dried apple rings (maybe with cinnamon and/or sugar), similar to this, maybe. 

 

And I think your zucchini bread would be a lovely addition! 

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I think your baskets are wonderful!! And yes I'm seeing an apple theme for sure! Candied Apples, dried apples. dried apple wreath? Homemade applesauce? I'd make sure everyone knows your bread is homemade :) What a treat! If you have a dehydrator you could even make apple potpourri with cinnamon sticks....

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I'm LOVING all of these ideas.  Thank you so much for taking time to read and respond.  I'm going to sleep on all of this....probably for a few days---so maybe more of you will tell me some ideas---and then I'll figure out a game plan hopefully.  

 

I should have asked you all YEARS ago.

 

 

Also--thanks for reassuring me about the zuke bread.  These baskets have never been fancy, but I still was worried that something homemade would seem...cheap somehow.  I feel better now that I have your opinions.

Edited by Shelby (log)
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Are you doing anything with kids?  If so a mug with "snowman poop" and hot cocoa mix always goes over well.

 

Toast dope and cream cheese to go with that bread?

 

I've done baskets before with the theme thing... all the non perishable ingredients for a dinner...vension stew maybe?  I once did a Paul Newman basket for my mother in law with his sauce, salad dressing and an autographed photo, good pasta, and some grissini so she could have dinner with him.

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Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

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Also--thanks for reassuring me about the zuke bread.  These baskets have never been fancy, but I still was worried that something homemade would seem...cheap somehow.  I feel better now that I have your opinions.

Homemade seem cheap?  Oh no.  On the contrary, I find that our recipients are so touched that I would go to all that trouble on their behalf. 

If you made me some homemade zucchini bread, I would be over the moon.  :wub:

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Not for this year since you have your baskets but in the future you might think of using grocery totes instead of baskets. I just saw some nice canvas ones today at Trader Joe's - I think they were only $5 - 6. Barnes and Noble have them too - their canvas ones are heavier and more expensive but they have light weight ones with holiday prints that are very inexpensive. I have some of the lightweight ones that I have used for a couple of years and they are still in good shape.

 

I also second Darienne - in my experience, home made is greatly appreciated and valued.

 

Elaina

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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I too love homemade items but only if I know the home where they came from.  I am "blessed" with a sister-in-law who loves to gift family members with fruits of her labors.  I do appreciate her hard work but the end results are cringe worthy.  Her husband actually related an instance where he walked into the kitchen one morning and saw a mouse "ice skating" across the stick of butter  that was on the table.

He thought it was cute but I saw the family do a collective shudder. 

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My Mom receives a basket every year from her family down east. Last year's included a sampler of flavoured maple syrups. There are always a jar of jam or lemon curd. I love the homemade fudge and goodies that are sent. She has sent (over the years) specialties from the East Coast which are a delight to receive. Would you consider sending some of your canned items or would the recipients have their own canned veg or sauce? You are a trooper to do this for your customers! 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've loved all of the ideas.  Thank you so much for all of the input.  The best laid plans and all that.......I'm once again scrambling to get it all done.  I still have to go out and find some cheeses and I'm waiting for some items to come in the mail.  I'm going to get started making the bows this afternoon.

 

On a side note, my husband told me that some one from work (finally) said that maybe we should stop doing the baskets OR that they should compensate me in some way.  It made my shriveled, black heart melt a bit lol.   Then others piped up and said that the customers loved them sooooo much and we shouldn't stop.  Sigh.  Anyway,  they won't  end up compensating  me....but just for grins, how much does one add on to a basket for their labor and time?  

 

Oh and, by the way, I forgot to mention, it's 11 baskets this year.  Give me strength lol.

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At least double the 'price' for your work (creativity/design, acquisition of contents, assembly, decoration of finished package), Shelby. Those are actually 'priceless' but if one wanted to charge, I would charge a minimum of double the costs to actually produce the basket. Ah, and then add at least another 10 percent, just because you can! :)

Sorry it is all such a hassle - kind of takes the fun out it a bit I know (though it is nice to know your customers DO appreciate your hard work). Hope you have time to snap a pic of a finished basket before it heads for the door this year.

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Ah!  Making the bows...my least favorite part of the entire procedure.  Packaging is not my thing.

 

I've started on 25 boxes for the Moab Humane Society volunteers, Chocolate coated, almond sprinkled, toffee.  1/2 pound boxes for each.  That's 4 batches.  6 boxes packed, stickered, awaiting ribbons.  Batch #2 awaiting its reverse side to be coated and sprinkled.  DH cut the waxed paper for me.  :hmmm:   To be finished by this Saturday.  I like the feeling of doing it.  Well, all except the ribbon part...

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Thank you, Deryn!  It will be interesting when I know the final total cost of each basket.  It will be more than last year because I was totally out of ribbon, tags etc.  I've used my own supplies many a time because I didn't plan ahead well enough.

 

My husband is out shopping to get me some wire right now to make bows.

 

I'll be making these:

 

They are big bows made out of wired burlap "ribbon".  Each bow has 5 strips that are 24" long, 1 strip that is 10" long and one that is 36" long.  Thus I just finished cutting 55 pcs-24", 11-10" and 11-36".  

 

Time for a glass of wine :)

 

 

 

Chum helping me out ;)

 

photo 1.jpg

 

Burlap ribbon with a chevron pattern

 

photo 2.JPG

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Gorgeous baskets. Handcrafted work around here is high-priced. There should be something given to you, as a token of appreciation for doing these baskets.

 

I realize you're in the late stages of assembly, so this is an idea you can file away. I was reading Janet Fletcher's newsletter, Planet Cheese, and she gave a recipe for a preserve of honeyed nuts in a jar. So simple, yet not something that's crossed my radar before. Am I the last person to get the memo?

 

I thought these nuts would be great in gift baskets, or as small presents for people I know. I emailed Janet for permission to reprint her recipe on EGullet. She graciously said yes, and gave me a link.

 

Janet Fletcher's Planet Cheese - Honeyed Nuts
http://eepurl.com/-CMI1

 

Janet Fletcher's website is here:
http://janetfletcher.com/

 

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Shelby, you are a Christmas angel.  Me?  The Christmas grump...I've decided that two stickers is enough and am refusing to do the bow thing.  This is on one of the stickers, my favorite Christmas Moose.  I have used this sticker on a round label on my Christmas givings for years now and I still adore him.

CHRISTMAS MOOSE.gif></a></p>

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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