Three bottles of beer, pretzels, dip, cheese, beef sausage, and nuts.

That’s what a woman recently chose for me to arrange in an ice bucket to celebrate her son’s birthday.

She knew his taste, selected products he could open and eat right away, and asked me to place all of it in a container he could use in his home.

I placed the beers next to each other in back of the bucket and put the other items in front. The entire gift was wrapped in cellophane and closed with a plaid-colored bow.

There’s no doubt that the son appreciated and enjoyed the gift. Why? Because the woman knew her son’s preferences.

She didn’t choose wine, chocolates, pasta, or candy. She selected items that he enjoys.

This woman’s selection is a role model for the foods and gifts you choose for your gift baskets. You must know what the people you make gift baskets for enjoy. If you don’t you’ll pick the wrong products, waste time and money, and become frustrated because no one wants what you have.

There are some items you can buy right from the start. However, there are caveats to those choices, too. Here are examples.

  • Cookies are a great choice. Will you buy sugar, chocolate chip, or shortbread?
  • Popcorn is terrific. However, is butter, cheese, or caramel the preferred flavor?
  • Nuts are a favorite. Will peanuts, cashews, almonds, or mixed nuts be your choice?

The Gift Basket Design Book

When I was growing up, Cheerios was my cereal choice. If someone requests Cheerios today, you must ask which flavor is their favorite because the original batch may not be what they want.

I tell this story to my daughter every time she asks me to buy Oreos, bread, and potato chips. There is a lot of variety on today’s supermarket shelves.

The same is true when you shop for gift basket foods and gifts. You must know what people enjoy before you buy.

The Gift Basket Design Book provides lots of visuals that show you, in color detail, which types of foods and gifts pair well together in baskets and containers.

Here’s a short list of what I find to be very popular with my customers, but keep in mind that this is what my clients like. You’ll have to learn about preferences according to the people in your location.


  • Champagne crackers
  • Brie cheese
  • Cheese popcorn
  • Beef summer sausage
  • Unsalted cashews
  • Chamomile tea
  • Dunkin’ Donuts coffee
  • Smoked salmon
  • Ghirardelli hot chocolate
  • Pyramid-shaped chocolates


  • Silver 4″x6″ picture frame
  • Baby blankets, any color
  • Brass business card holder
  • Unscented soap and lotion
  • Miniature books, all subjects
  • Flower and vegetable seeds
  • Gardening tools
  • Journals with inspirational phrases on the cover
  • Personalized drinking mug
  • Adult coloring books

My list can change at any time, so I stay in contact with my customers to continue learning about trends they follow. This is something I wish I had done at the beginning. or I would not have thrown out so many items that were not of interest.

This is a trait you’ll want to do, too, to make sure you buy what your customers want to give to others. If you make gift baskets as a hobby, it’s just as important to buy what the recipient enjoys, not what you enjoy.

The many photos in The Gift Basket Design Book provide solid ideas to find what customers want in the gift baskets you make for them.

What’s on your gift basket list?

Shirley George Frazier
In the gift basket world, all roads lead to Shirley George Frazier, the industry's reigning expert and international authority. Shirley is chief basketologist at Sweet Survival LLC and author of the industry's best-selling books, How to Start a Home-Based Gift Basket Business, The Gift Basket Design Book, and Marketing Strategies for the Home-Based Business. Shirley works with manufacturers and retailers to successfully add gift baskets to their current revenue streams. Shirley is also a frequent speaker at events and instructor of the popular online course, Start Your Own Gift Basket Business. Contact Shirley to speak at your event or call 973-279-2799 to schedule a consultation.

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