Do neighbors and friends rave about your cookies, cakes, and other homemade treats?

It’s wonderful to find recipes that satisfy their sweet tooth, but if you put those goodies, made in your home kitchen, into a gift basket you sell (take money for it rather than give it away), that could spell trouble for you if someone gets sick.

Just like adding wine and liquor without a license, items made in your home kitchen are a no-no in gift baskets if you are selling it for profit.

I recently read a story about a couple who are selling lots of gift baskets at their Tennessee store. Here are two sentences in the story that stand out.

Back in 1991, Karen started making sourdough bread, muffins, cookies and cakes as a way to make a living as a single mother. She would assemble her goods along with some cheeses and jams and put them in a basket.

You may be able to skirt around the rules when selling gift baskets at fundraising events. However, on a full-time, money-making basis, it’s important for you to stay within health laws. This fact is not only to protect those who eat your products but also to protect you from court appearances.

The layman’s legal breakdown

Here are caveats for making gift baskets for fun or profit. Keep in mind that I am a gift basket industry expert, not an attorney. Therefore, I am unable to advise you on legal matters.

The following points are generalizations. It’s mandatory to learn about legalities from an attorney in your area, especially if gift baskets are your business. Search for experts on the topics of business law, small business law, and similar practices.

    1. You can probably add home-baked goods to gift baskets if no money is exchanged between you and the receiver. Examples of this are for charity or neighbor.

    2. For-sale gift baskets offered to customers include products purchased directly from manufacturers. If you include home-baked products, it is to be made in a commercial kitchen, not your home kitchen.

    3. Home-baked products made in a commercial kitchen for gift baskets must have labeling that identifies the ingredients (FDA rules).

Commercial kitchens are found in many U.S. states and other countries. These are kitchens where chefs, caterers, and bakers prepare edible goods outside of their home base.

Another common commercial kitchen in today’s environment is located in food trucks. These mobile kitchens are inspected and approved to sell you food wherever they set up shop.

On the interview entitled Legal Tips to Keep Your Company Out of Court, I speak with small business attorney Robin Gronsky, Esq., about gift basket rules and regulations. The interview is available on a CD by mail or through digital download.

What about this news regarding homemade products in gift baskets surprises you?

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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