The art of gift baskets

'Tis the season of gift baskets. You’ve surely seen many options popping up as you scroll through social media, or if you’ve ventured out, have walked by displays of cellophane-wrapped wicker.

Whether you go for a pre-fab option or choose to create some yourself to drop on the doorsteps of friends and loved ones, consider the six Ss of a good gift basket or box, and your creations will be sure to please.

Keep in mind, you don’t need all the Ss, and perhaps you’ll stick to just one S, but I hope this will serve as a sumptuous guide.

Savoury: consider this the main course of your basket, or the punch of protein. Meaty, mouth-watering bites of cured meats, such as those on a charcuterie plate. Aged cheeses that pack a punch, or even something fermented or pickled. Why not try thyme and cheddar shortbread, pickled beets, or a small mason jar of homemade kimchi?

Salty: given that most gift baskets or boxes are built upon the idea of having snackable options, salty snack is needed. A vessel on which to spread other items on will take care of this – crackers anyone? – but roasted nuts will do too, as will the ever-popular potato chip. Other options: a selection of flavoured salts, yam or kale chips, or a variety of olives.

Spicy: depending on the recipient, have some caution with the level of spice. This is a good time to create or purchase a spicy dip (or have both a spicy version and a mild version in the basket), such as a guacamole with your choice of hot peppers, hummus with harissa, or habanero salsa. Try your hand at creating spiced nuts with cayenne pepper or chipotle seasoning.

Sweet: not much explanation needed here. Every basket should have at least one sweet item as the dessert course of the basket, or an interlude between the first three Ss. Suggestions: go beyond chocolates in a box with a gourmet hot chocolate kit, icewine truffles, or Turkish Delight for something unexpected. Or butter tarts, fruitcake, or any other holiday baking.

Sip or serve: now that you have all of the ingredients together, here are two options to finish off your gift basket. Option one, include something to sip on. Wine is just fine, but if you’ve ended up with some sort of a theme, consider loose leaf tea, local spirits, or locally roasted coffee beans. As for serving: glasses, a cheese knife, charcuterie board, or look for sustainable (recyclable or compostable) dishes and napkins. 

Ask your favourite winery or restaurant if they have gift baskets this season that you can have them customize, or that you can add items to for a personal touch.


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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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