Updated: 4/18/23

Do you know how to make a gift basket, one that turns heads and makes everyone ooh and aah when they see it? This article guides you from beginning to end and includes design ideas, too.

Hands down fun

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t use my hands to create beautiful things. My mom enrolled me in a sewing class when I was 10 years old. She sent me to summer camp where crafts were the main focus of daily projects. If any of this reminds you of your childhood experiences, your future with gift baskets will be as successful as mine is today.

Ready to have fun? Let’s start with the basic equipment and supplies.

What you need

This list is what you need to make your first gift basket. You’ll need this after learning the basics of how to start a business (or serious hobby). Some of these items will already be in your home. The rest are easy to find and buy.


Basket – one that’s small or medium in size with an attached handle is a great option. Any color and shape is fine. Containers (box, can, tray, wagon, etc.) are also popular and a great choice if a basket is not available.

Paper – this item goes inside of the basket to elevate the contents (foods and/or gifts). Paper with the firmness of brown supermarket bags or newspaper is a good choice.

Shred – Whether zig zag or crinkled in appearance, two handfuls of shred is enough. You’ll find shred at a local craft store. As with your basket choice, any color is appropriate.

Foods – a collection of five to seven items, such as foods listed in this article, is a great start. Your choice includes snacks such as crackers, chips, cookies, nuts, and a beverage (tea, coffee, etc.).  

Gifts (optional) – if making a non-food basket is your preference, focus on candles, soaps, picture frames, books, or kitchen items. Think about the reason you want to make this design, and then select products that celebrate or honor the occasion.


Faux greenery or flowers – Better known as enhancements, these filler items bring visual life to your design. You’ll find floral items in your home or at any craft store.

Cellophane – This clear wrapping material is added around the completed design. Cellophane that’s at least 30 inches wide is adequate to wrap what you make.

Bow – A bow, made with ribbon in the color of your choice, is placed around the top closure of the cellophane. Its addition at the top of the completed gift basket secures the contents, finalizing your creation. Bows are found at discount and party supply stores.

Tape – Clear tape (not opaque) is easy to find at discount and office supply stores. It closes cellophane as it is wrapped around the basket design.

Twist tie – This long, thin item resembles a pipe cleaner, holding the cellophane in place at the top before attaching the bow.

Scissors – Snips and trims are needed on the enhancements, cellophane, and tape. Be sure to choose a sharpened pair.

Color photographs showing all of these items are shown in The Gift Basket Design Book.

Your first gift basket won’t cost much money. The price depends on supplies already available to you. Once you decide what you have, you’ll know what you need to buy.

Are you excited? Let’s start designing.

How to make a gift basket

For more than 30 years, one of my favorite experiences teaching gift basket making is watching the faces of new designers light up with glee as their gift basket takes shape. This occurs at libraries, adult schools, and conferences filled with business and creative attendees. General consensus comes down to one phrase:

That was so easy!

Hearing those words warms my heart every time. A one hour gift basket-making video is a bonus given to students in the online Start Your Own Gift Basket Business course. Here’s the 10-step instruction for you to follow.

First five

1. Set the basket in front of you on a flat surface. The handle can be either side to side or front to back. Most designers choose side to side, but the final decision is yours.

2. Crush the paper in your palms and place it inside the basket. Add enough paper to fill the entire basket, leaving one half inch of empty space around the very top near the rim. Be sure to make the filling dense (tight with no room for air) so the foods and/or gifts are stable on top of the paper.

3. Put the foods and/or gifts (contents) on top of the paper within the basket. Taller items are in the back while shorter products are in front. These contents might fall or shift at the beginning, but the next steps will stabilize the items.

4. Shred is added atop the paper in between and around the contents. You want the paper to be hidden by the shred while the contents sit atop it.

5. Add enhancements wherever it looks attractive between, around, and in front of the contents. Short enhancements look especially good in the front and on the sides. The design is nearly complete once these five steps are done.

Finishing touches

6. It’s time to wrap your design in cellophane. Move the basket temporarily off the table, and lay the cellophane flat on the table. The open edge is in front, and the cellophane roll is to the back.

7. Bring the basket back onto the table and atop the cellophane. Bring the cellophane up and above the front and back of the basket adding an extra 6-8 inches above the handle or above the non-handle container. The cellophane’s sides are open and temporarily resemble a U-shape. Cut the cellophane around the basket from the roll, and place the remaining cellophane roll out of the way.

8. Gather the cellophane above the design (directly above the handle or non-handle container), and hold it tightly with one hand (if you’re right handed, hold the cellophane in your left hand). Pull the cellophane up through your hand towards the ceiling. This tightening process is necessary for a smooth appearance around the design. Once done, attach a twist tie around the cellophane just below your hand as you remove your hand from the cellophane. This keeps the tightened cellophane in place until you add the bow.

Almost there

9. Close the U-shaped sides of the cellophane individually. On one side bring the bottom part up (the part laying on the table) and parallel (next to) to the basket, then folding the back opening to the front and front opening to the back. This type of closure resembles the way the back of an envelope looks as you close it for mailing. Place a two inch piece of tape on the cellophane’s back fold to keep the envelope-type closure secure.  Repeat this method on the opposite side.

10. Tie the bow around the top of the cellophane where the twist tie is placed, You can now remove the twist tie.

Take a look at your masterpiece Your design is complete!

Gift basket themes and occasions

There are endless possibilities for gift basket making. What types of gift baskets will you create? Here are 10 ideas.

Each type of design is made with different products but in the same design format. No gift basket will look alike because each one includes your personal touch, variety of colors, and the type of container (basket, box, chair, sleigh, etc.) you select.

The next step to making gift baskets

Now that you know how to make a gift basket, the process will be just as easy for you as it is for my in-person students.

Which design type will you choose to begin creating beautiful gifts for family, friends, and others on your gift list? If you already make gift baskets, what part of designing do you style differently than the method shared here?