Want to make gift baskets but don’t have much cash? This article solves that problem. Here’s what to buy for gift baskets on a tight budget.

Baptism by fire

Going to the gift show in New York City for the first time was exciting for me but also very confusing. If I had ideas on what my first gift basket customers wanted to buy, perhaps that knowledge would have decreased my anxiety. I looked at a lot of merchandise but thankfully did not purchase anything.

Still, when I did buy items, I made some good choices and a few wrong ones. The items that didn’t sell were given away years later as marketing gifts in tote bags and other containers. That decision helped to increase my sales.

I do wish, though, that I had a better idea about what products were good choices for my customers, and I’m betting you want to make wise decisions so you get more sales and have less waste. It’s time to think critically about what you buy before you purchase your first item or more products.

Start with the basics

Whether you have a little room or lots of room in your studio, you may not want to buy a lot of inventory when first starting a gift basket business. Gift basket products are easy to find. Yet, it’s wise to not buy too much because you’re not sure what customers want at any given time. How can you achieve a good balance while, at the same time, have what’s needed for an order?

The answer is to buy basic items that satisfy the requirements for several different designs. For example, crackers and cheese are two products that fill orders for birthday, thank you, and congratulations themes along with others.

You might not buy wedding or baby items unless you’re absolutely sure that the customers will request those designs. However, you will want to know where to buy products for those themes if you receive an order. Such orders alert you to purchase a few more items in additional categories to save time in the future.

What to buy for gift baskets on a tight budget

Here’s a breakdown of products you might consider buying. This list is based on making 12 gift baskets.

  • Baskets, 6 – two small, two medium, two large in square and oval shapes.
  • Containers, 6 – 3 small gift boxes, 3 large gift boxes.
  • Foods, 72 – 12 crackers, 12 cheese, 12 cookies, 12 nuts, 12 waters, 12 chocolates. Substitutions are popcorn, coffee, tea, soup, or other items depending on your local knowledge or cultural differences.
  • Shred, 2-3 colors only – vanilla, red, and green are solid choices.
  • Ribbon, 6 rolls – 3 in 3″ width, 2 in 2″ width, 1 curling ribbon in white or gold color.
  • Enhancements – if you buy floral, purchase a box of decorative picks that apply to general themes, and purchase one large floral bush to snip apart with wire cutters for design placement.
  • Cellophane and/or shrink wrap – either 3-4 cellophane rolls, or 12 shrink wrap bags, or 4 cellophane rolls and 8 shrink wrap bags in two sizes.

This list provides ideas and is certainly not written in stone. Any of these choices can and ought to be changed as needed according to your vision.

Remember to buy tools and equipment

Tape, boxes (if you plan to ship), sharp scissors, and more are on your buying list if you don’t already have these items available. More guidance is outlined in the book, How to Start a Home-Based Gift Basket Business, which includes a pricing chart and sample forms for a smooth transition into this creative business.

The last word on what to buy for gift baskets on a tight budget

Thinking back I have no regrets about the wrong choices I made when buying inventory that never sold. It would have been nice at the time to have some type of idea list similar to the one above, but none existed. That’s why I make one available to you now.

Document on paper or computer your buying blueprint before spending one dollar. You can bet that some mistakes will still be made, but by planning ahead of time, you’ll make more money and save your sanity.