You want to put sweets made in your personal kitchen into gift baskets you sell, but will homemade brownies put you in handcuffs? Read on to learn if this is a good idea or a problem that will land you in court.

Stay creative and within the law

It’s wonderful to find recipes that satisfy your customer’s 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 to gift basket without a license to do so, 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.

What may be missing from this story is that the entrepreneur obtained a license from a local department to make and sell these items, or perhaps she found a commercial kitchen to make the goods before selling it.

You may be able to skirt around rules and regulations when making gift baskets for 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. 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 making it for charity or a neighbor.

2. For-sale gift baskets offered to customers include products purchased directly from manufacturers. The article, Gift Basket Product, So Easy to Find, uncovers many places to find foods and gifts. 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 before adding it to gift baskets must have labeling that identifies the ingredients (FDA rules).

Where to bake your goods

Commercial kitchens are found in many U.S. states and other countries. These are kitchens where chefs, caterers, and bakers prepare edible goods to be transported to restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, and similar retail outlets.

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

Selling on the sly

If you’ve been undercover about making and selling your home-baked goods before placing it in gift baskets, your activities may last, or it may not. It only takes one problem to reveal what you could have done right.

  1. A neighbor gets angry with you over something non-gift basket related and reports you to a local agency.
  2. A person is admitted to the hospital because your brownies contain eggs, an allergic item that causes health distress.
  3. Someone at the health department who wants a pay raise buys your gift basket filled with home-baked goods and now has the evidence to shut you down.

It’s only a matter of time before the situation is revealed, and it will come in a manner that surprises you. Don’t let that happen. Either find a commercial kitchen or buy all of your goods from a legal source.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find foods and gifts you need from suppliers that are in your U.S. state. The Wholesale Suppliers in Your State report delivered by email uncovers baskets, floral items, snacks, and more in places you didn’t know exist.

What about this news regarding homemade products in gift baskets surprises you? If you have been making goodies in your home kitchen, what information here convinces you to make a change?

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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