What will you say if a client asks for wine in a gift basket, but you don’t have a license to include wine? Here’s why adding bubbly makes money or costs you plenty.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. Speak with your attorney to ensure that you are following regulations to sell spirit-based gift baskets.

Rules of the road

“My customer wants me to add a bottle of champagne in the basket. Is that okay?”

I’m asked this question all the time in my courses regarding what to include in gift baskets.

When you start selling, you’re so happy to get sales that you’ll do anything to please a customer. The bad news is that when it comes to adding wine, alcohol, and beer, you may be breaking the law without knowing it.

Adding anything alcoholic in gift baskets when you have not been issued a license in your U.S. state or country to do so may be a crime punishable by fines, jail time, or both.

When you think it’s okay to add a bottle of bubbly just one time, you could be selling that gift basket to an undercover ATF (alcohol, tobacco and firearms) officer.

The hassle isn’t worth the cost.

A simple scenario

Here’s an example. You receive a gift basket order that requests a bottle of red wine. You accept the order, drive to your local liquor store, and purchase the product. When the gift basket is complete, you drive to the recipient’s home to make the delivery.

You ring the bell, and an 8-year-old girl opens the door.

“My mommy’s not home,” she says. It’s 9:00 p.m., and you don’t want to make a second trip. In addition, your client will be disappointed if the gift basket isn’t delivered this evening.

It’s no big deal to leave the basket with the child, right?


Children who accept packages can also open the gift and eat or drink the contents.

After the mother accompanies her inebriated child to the hospital, she’s ready to lash out at the responsible party: you.

If she doesn’t call the police, the hospital is obligated to make the call. The same night you profit from the sale will be a night you also incur a loss. You will be escorted to the police station where you could be held criminally liable for your oversight.

How adding bubbly makes money or costs you plenty

You have three choices to walk the fine line between making your clients happy and staying within established liquor laws:

1. Explain to clients that you are not licensed to add wine, alcohol, or beer in gift baskets.

Any client who does not understand this and either insists that you comply with her wishes or says she will never again use your services is a person who is outside of your target market. You don’t need that client or the problems she brings.

2. Offer a non-alcoholic substitute.

Manufacturers make lots of delicious substitute products. These beverages are often packaged with labels that mirror the alcoholic brands. Open-minded clients will understand that you cannot include alcohol and will either choose one of the alternatives you offer or drop the idea of adding liquor.

3. Inform the client that if she wants to include alcohol, you will leave space in the gift for its inclusion.

In this case, you must be proficient enough in your basket-making style to keep an area to the left or right of the basket open and uncovered by cellophane or other closure material so the bottle can be inserted. The basic gift basket making tutorial is on this page. If you are not ready to keep space open, do not offer the client this alternative.

Finding substitues

Where can you find non-alcoholic beverages?

Your local supermarket is one location. Many specialty food shops, as well as wine and alcohol stores, carry virgin brands.

Don’t break the law to make a sale. Alternatives exist, and if you do not have a liquor license, choosing the non-alcoholic option for your gift baskets is a wise decision. Now that’s something to bubble about.

What problems have you faced when customers ask you to add alcohol?

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. Speak with your attorney to ensure that you are following regulations to sell spirit-based gift baskets.