The Custom and Novelty Elements in Creating Gift Baskets

 You may find that many of your gift basket orders are customized or lean towards specific niches. On many occasions, offering customized and novelty gift baskets has proven to be a wise and profitable decision for gift basket services. During times of economic depression, like the recession in 2008, many gift basket businesses found a market in customized baskets and were able to expand their customer base to new demographics. 

In this article, you will learn about some of the customized gift basket options that you could possible choose to include in your business. The article will also discuss what is involved in each theme and what related issues that you need to be aware of for each. Keep in mind that this is not a finite list, but rather a guide and series of suggestions to get you started. Your own creativity and customer-base will potentially lead you to more options you may offer for your gift basket business.

Children and Young Adult

One area in particular that you may offer themes for gift basket services for is children and young adults. Baskets catering to recipients based on age, in general, tend to do well because they can be as specific or as vague as you or the customer decides. Parents and family members like grandparents, aunts, and uncles are the most likely candidates who would order such a basket. Educators may also look at gift baskets as a viable option for their students, such as to celebrate the end of the school year or present as a reward for academic excellence. The possible reasoning behind placing the order can be almost anything, and may include events such as birthdays, holidays, or milestones like the first day of school or graduation.

Having themes that are aimed at children can allow for added flexibility, rather than limit your options as one would expect. Narrowing the focus of a gift basket to the age of the recipient can help in deciding what to include in the basket. For example, an order is placed for a sports-themed gift basket and the recipient happens to be an eight year-old boy who loves soccer. Putting together a generalized list of items into the basket, no matter how you present it, can come across as a lack of effort and care on your part. All that information can be used to aid in customer satisfaction and to produce a product that can actually be used by the person receiving it.

Including gift baskets that are themed for children and young adults can, like the other themes, present some additional issues that you will need to take into consideration. Some of these issues may include, but are not limited to, things such as:

  • Age-appropriateness--Paying attention to the age of the recipient can be a rather important aspect when creating a gift basket. Items that are marketed towards children are not acceptable for all children. In some cases, an item may be a suitable inclusion for the eight year-old in the above example, but not for a peer that is a year or two older than him. Some items may be marked with a suggested age group for the purpose of ensuring a user who is of the appropriate age for that item. This can be due to aspects such as the item's size, difficulty of use, and the developmental level of the user.

  • Safety Hazards--When designing and selling gift baskets, the safety of the customer should always be a priority. Including items that can pose a hazard for the basket's recipient is not only irresponsible, but can also lead to repercussions for your business and reputation. With gift baskets that are for children, taking note of potential safety issues is a must. In addition to their relevancy for the basket's theme, all items should also be in compliance with any and all safety standards. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, under the control of the Department of Commerce, is responsible for deciding and monitoring the federal safety standards of children's products.  All children's products, including toys, are required to follow any and all regulations set by the Commission in order for them to be sold in the U.S.  If you are unsure if a product you want to include meets those standards, or has been recalled, the Commission would be the place to look, as well as checking with the Toy Industry Association and your supplier.

Career and Profession

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online How to Start a Gift Basket Business course?

Another area to consider when looking for gift basket themes is careers and professions. A gift basket full of items for a specific profession can be given to someone who is entering into a new field, starting at a new job, or possibly received a promotion at work. It can be full of items that are specific for that profession that the recipient can use while at work. Some companies reward long-term employees when they've reached a milestone anniversary for working there. Others give gifts at the holidays in addition to any bonuses and time-off for employees, which can result in a large order for your business.

Almost every profession has an appreciation day or week that is designed for the community to thank those in that profession for their hard work. Employers of those professions will often celebrate their employees when those events occur and will look for appropriate gifts for such occasions. Marketing your product for profession-centric events such as appreciation days can be one such option that you may choose to include in your gift basket business. However, for those profession-themed baskets to be successful, certain things must be taken into consideration.

  • Applicable to Profession--A general work- or office-themed gift basket may be acceptable for some professions, but it can cut out others who may be a part of your customer base. The items that you choose to include in your gift baskets will need to be appropriate and applicable to the needs of the recipient. The more likely the items within the basket will be of use to the person receiving it, the more likely it is that you will have a satisfied customer. This may require a little extra work by asking questions of the customer placing the order and possibly even doing some research on your own.

  •  Workplace Appropriateness--There may be certain regulations put in place at some companies concerning employee behavior or what is allowed in the office. It may be necessary to look into what is or isn't acceptable for workplace environments if the items you are including are designed to be used within a certain profession. Asking the customer who is placing the order about any regulations present in the recipient's work place, especially if the gift basket is to be given at work or from a co-worker or employer, may be necessary to prevent issues.


Many events warrant gift-giving, whether it is a holiday, special occasion, or celebration. Often, people will struggle with what to give when an event warrants a gift. This may be due to uncertainty about what is appropriate to the situation, a lack of familiarity with the recipient, or just general inexperience. Providing gift baskets that fit general events and occasions is fairly standard trend within the gift basket industry. The Christmas season alone is evident of such, with businesses steadily seeing peak sales during November and December despite any industry decline.  A gift basket, when done correctly and with care, can often be a thoughtful and appropriate gift for any occasion. Including contents that are applicable to the event the basket is for will only add to the gift for both the sender and the receiver.

Companies that host and organize large-scale events, like conferences, will often look for gifts to thank attendees and organizers for their participation. As such, they will often look to services that are designed to provide thoughtful, relevant gifts. Gift basket services are a common option for those companies, and will often place their orders in bulk. While event-themed gift baskets can be highly profitable for a gift basket business, it is not without its own issues.

  • Balance between vague and specific--While an event-themed gift basket should include items that are appropriate to the event itself, there can be some difficulty in finding a balance. Items that adhere to the theme too loosely can make it seem too vague for it to truly apply for the event, and items that are too specific for the event can come across as excessive. If the client is dissatisfied with the contents of the basket, it can result in time and money lost.

  • Leftover Items--While not always a problem, event-centric themes can require you to order specific supplies for gift baskets in quantities that are more than what you need. Not all leftover items can be reused or repurposed. Some items included in an event basket may only be applicable for that single event. With seasonal gift baskets, like those based on holidays, any leftover items may be left sitting in your storage until the following year. Even then, you may not be able to use the item, especially if you have a limited amount in your inventory or if it has been discontinued by your supplier.

  • Licensing--This is more for corporates than for general events, but licensing for products and logos can be an issue. Companies that turn to gift baskets for their clients will sometimes request the inclusion of their logo or their own products as part of their own method of personalizing the basket. This is actually quite common, despite claims that gifting products with company logos on them alienates the customer and carries a sense of self-promotion than thanks. 5 The client may give you their logo to add to products that you already carry, which may require you to obtain temporary licensing or permissions to use it in order to avoid any accidental copyright violations.

Hobbies & Special Interests

Gift baskets that cater to a specific hobby or interest can be a risky option to carry as they often appeal to a specific audience. Your gift basket business may offer pre-set baskets for certain hobbies and interests, but it can be a bust if your customer-base does not include those with those interests. Likewise, you may not offer gift baskets for certain hobbies and interests that are present in your customer-base and therefore limit your access to that branch of your audience.

Offering hobby and special interest themed gift baskets can be a good choice because it can be adjusted and paired with other themes like food. A gift basket for someone who likes to camp can include small camping supplies like compasses or guide books, and then include food items like snacks or ingredients for s'mores. Another option for a hobby or interest themed basket would be to include items based on a person's proficiency, like beginner or intermediate. The versatility of what can be done for this theme largely depends on your level of creativity, knowledge of the subject matter, and the demand from your customers. A few things to consider with this theme:

  • Lack of familiarity--Unless you are familiar with the interest that the basket is themed with, or the client is very specific, you will most likely be required to do some research in order to make the basket. Choosing to include interest-specific items in a gift basket that is themed to that interest means making sure that the items are actually relevant. Guessing or going on what little you know about an interest or hobby while making a basket for it can backfire. It's sloppy and can inadvertently communicate to the client that you don't care enough to put the effort in.

  • Usability--Having gift baskets for certain hobbies can pose a problem with the usability of their contents. Even if the items are related to the hobby that the basket is themed, their practicality may be an issue. A gift basket designed for a recipient who has a crochet hobby, for example, may include a book about different patterns, crochet hooks, yarn samples, and a pouch or holder for the hooks. All the items may be relevant to the hobby of crocheting and the needs of the client, but little details that can impact the usability of those items within the hobby may cancel that relevancy. The hooks may be way too small them to be used with the other items or for the recipient's skill level. The yarn may be of a poor quality or an odd color.