Frequently Asked Questions on How to Start a Gift Basket Business

Thinking about starting a gift basket business, but have a lot of questions you need answered first? You’ve come to the right place.

How do I know if there is a market for gift baskets in my area?

As long as people buy gifts for each other there will always be a need for gift baskets.  Today gift baskets are the most popular choice of gift giving by both the giver and receiver.  Corporate businesses as well as the general public have a continuing need for gift baskets.  In fact, Entrepreneur Magazine lists gift baskets as one of the Top 10 New Businesses to start.  The gift basket industry has exploded over the past few years and continues to be a successful money making business for those involved.

How do I know if I am qualified to run my own business?

You have already taken the right steps by being here.  If you are doing your research and you know you would enjoy this type of business then you are ready!  You might also want to ask yourself if you possess the qualities of a successful business owner.  Am I self disciplined, professional, creative, courageous, resilient, patient, self-confident and determined?  If so, then “Follow Your Dreams” and get started today!

Could I keep my regular job while doing this?

If you can plan and budget your time you should not have any problems running this business on a part time basis.  If you work during the day you can get voice mail for your business.  Let your customers know that you will be checking your messages at a certain time and that you will get back to them at that time.  Make sure you follow up on all messages.  You can have your parties or make baskets or candles in the evening when you are at home.  If you have deliveries that need to be made, line up some friends or students that could do this for you on an as needed basis.

How would I market my gift baskets?

Never under estimate the power of word of mouth!!  Start out by selling to family, friends and coworkers.  Tell other parents, your doctor, your hairstylist, your dentist, etc.  You get the picture. You’ll be amazed how fast word of mouth spreads.  You also should network as much as possible.  There are so many ways to do this from the school PTA to local charity groups.  Consider donating a basket or product for a special event with a charity or other organization.  Make sure you have plenty of business cards too.  Give two or three to everyone you associate with and ask them to pass a couple on to friends.  Have a home party to sell your products.  Rent a booth at a craft mall and sell your custom-made gift baskets there.  Sell your candles or gift baskets at craft fairs.  Or how about trying the Internet!!

Can I really make money selling gift baskets?

If you have done your research, have good products, offer excellent service, competitive pricing, continually market your products and services, and work hard, your income potential can be limitless.  It is up to you to determine how much money you wish to make.

Will people take a home based business seriously?

Home based businesses are definitely rising in importance to our economy.  According to the Small Business Administration, there are approximately 9 million women owned home based businesses and the number is still growing very fast!  The Internet alone has thousands of web sites that are dedicated to home based businesses.  Our society is now recognizing the continued growth and security in operating a business from the home. 

However, if you want to be recognized as a professional in the business 
world then you must operate a professional business.  Make sure you have a separate phone line for  example.  Make sure when you make business calls that there are no other household noises in the background.  Also, if you use e-mail, set up a special business address so that you can control and maintain your messages. Make sure you have business cards, a website, etc.   

Unique Gift Basket Ideas

Here are some themes for basket design ideas that we hope you 
will find helpful.  Use your imagination to combine these ideas  
and create some new ideas with your own special touches!  
Send us an e-mail with YOUR CREATIVE IDEAS!

  • RELAX AND ENJOY–Great for bridal shower, new mom or anyone that just deserves a break!  Include soothing aromatherapy bath products such as bath salts or teas, soaps or bubble bath.  And some nice candles, lotions, relaxing tea blends and maybe a nice journal.  A bath pillow, slippers or a nice terry bath towel might be some extra luxurious touches, too!  Use some soft flowers for extra enhancements.
  • NIGHT OF ROMANCE–Perfect for wedding, anniversary or Valentine’s gifts!  Include massage oils, chocolates, candle, wine glasses and sensuous bath salts.  (Note:  Don’t forget that chocolate absorbs scents, so you might have to wrap chocolates in a separate little bag or put extra shrink wrap on them.)
  • PASTA LOVERS–Very popular basket!  Great for wedding, new home or just because!  Include gourmet pasta, marinara sauce, breadsticks or garlic bread mix, dessert, pasta server and/or wooden spoon, and a candle.  Try a small bunch of plastic or beaded grapes or some grape vines and leaves for additional enhancements!
  • ANGELS AMONG US–Give this to someone who has been an angel!  Include angel soaps, an angel/cherub figurine, journal, teas, lotions, angel sachets or angel pins.  Try marketing these to local churches to send to church members as get well gifts.
  • TIME FOR COMFORT–For the person going through a rough time, think soothing.  How about a gourmet chicken noodle soup mix. journal, teas, cocoas, candles or a nice set of stationery.   These make great get well gifts or thinking of you!
  • BEYOND THE GARDEN GATE–Know someone with a green thumb!  Use gardening tools, gloves, seed packets, row markers, plant food, gardeners hand cream, gardening theme sachets, picture frames or notepads.  Wrap it all up in a beautiful flowerpot, watering can or wooden picket fence container!  Try marketing these to local landscape designers as customer appreciation gifts.  Or talk to local nurseries about designing some of these for their store.
  • WELCOME HOME–Great for new homeowner!  Realtors, banks & mortgage companies love these!  Include an address book, post it notes, refrigerator magnets, welcome sign, note cards, personalized stationery (you can do these on your computer for your special customers), candles, picture frames, gourmet soups or cookie mixes, coffees and maybe some snacks for the kids!  Let the banks or realtors include a pen or mug with their company logos.
  • MARGARITAVILLE–Use colorful Southwestern style basket or container for this fun basket!  Include margarita mix, decorative margarita salt, salsas, chips, dips, playing cards and margarita glasses.  (Note: make sure your mixes don’t contain any alcohol unless you have a liquor license or the customer furnished the mix to you!)
  • COOKIE LOVERS DREAM–Try a nice cookie jar or cookie platter for this yummy basket!  Include gourmet cookies and cookie mixes, cookie cutters, spatula, wooden spoon, coffees, cocoas, mini cookie recipe book and a sugar cookie scented candle!
  • BACKYARD CHEF–Great man’s gift, wedding or new homeowners!  Include gourmet BBQ sauces, spices or marinades, BBQ baster, mini BBQ cookbook, chef quality spatula, mitts and a Chef’s hat for that extra touch.
  • CHAMOIS AND SHINE–Car lovers dream basket!  Include special car cleaners & waxes, chamois, cloths, sponges, cleaning brushes, key chain and special auto scent products.  Try putting all of this in a nice bucket or basket!  Market these to car dealers as customer appreciation gifts.
  • KITCHEN CUPBOARD--Perfect for weddings and new homeowners!  Make these special baskets up in a variety of price ranges and sizes.  Start with some of these ideas:  wooden spoons, utensils, nice dish towels or linen roll covers, pot holders, cookbook, timer, trivet, spoon rest, recipe holder, candles with kitchen scents like Baked Apple Pie, teas, mugs, gourmet spices, sauces or mixes.  Use other containers like bowls or a roasting pan!  Another basket that realtors love!
  • SUNDAE DELIGHT–Ice cream lovers will enjoy this basket!  Put in an ice cream scoop, gourmet syrups, nuts and other toppings, sundae spoons, linen napkins, sundae/fountain glasses and maybe a little notepad with a picture of ice cream on them.  If you have any local ice cream shops try marketing this basket to them.  Offer to make some up for them with some of their products or special coupons.
  • TIME IN A BOTTLE–Create memories with a Time Capsule.  Include an elegant writing pen, stationery, envelopes, acid free papers, journal, picture album and picture frames.  Put these items in a nice hinged lid basket, metal box or beautiful hatbox.  Create a *New Baby* Time capsule using these same products with baby themes.  If you really want to get creative try making up some beautiful colored forms on your computer like a *Letter to the Future* that you could include in this.  Design a form with lots of lines for writing and add a few sheets to the basket.  Market these ideas to new moms and new brides.  Talk to your local hospital about putting these in their gift shop.
  • MEMORIES OF MY TRAVELS–Try promoting these to travel agencies.  Include a travel journal, stationery, fine writing pen, travel candle, photo album and soothing linen sprays for the nights away from home.
  • AFTERNOON TEA–Include a variety of special tea blends, tea cup and saucer, tea pot, cookies or other snacks, candles, honey, silver tea spoon or special gourmet tea spoons coated with flavoring, honey or sugar crystals.
  • MOVIE NIGHT–In a large bowl for popcorn, place some microwave popcorn, variety of candy, a gift certificate for a movie rental, and a couple of cans or bottles of soda.

How to Make Gift Baskets to Sell


There are many ways you can assemble a basket. This is our technique.
Experiment & do what’s easiest & most comfortable to you.
Supplies

STEPS FOR MAKING THE PERFECT GIFT BASKET

  1. Container–This could be almost anything. The most common is baskets that come in all shapes & sizes. Other ideas are glass bowls, pails, flower pots, cookie jars, wooden boats, colanders, stock pots, decorative pots, vases, etc. Use your imagination! Keep in mind that your container needs to be stable enough to handle the weight of the products you’ll be putting inside.
  2. Fill & Backing–Fill is what will be going in the bottom of your container to raise you up to the lip of your container. This could be newspaper, tissue paper, scrap packing paper, or anything else inexpensive. You might try your local newspaper for “butt rolls”. These are blank rolls of newspaper that’s at the end of a roll. Top fill/shred: (crinkly cut paper, shredded parchment paper, or shredded wood . . . all of which comes in a variety of colors.) Backing is cardboard cut to fit down in your container & is covered in tissue paper. This provides stability & height to your basket.
  3. Wrap–Most common wrap used is cellophane. This comes in a wide variety of designs & colors. Tulle or fancy doily-like fabric could also be used. However, cellophane is usually the least expensive.
  4. Finishing Touches & Bows–Don’t forget to add flowers, fresh or silk, and other enhancements to your baskets. This adds some color & fills in gaps between products. If you are hand making your bows, the ribbon used for this comes in an endless array of sizes, designs, and colors. You can also get it wired or unwired. Handmade bows look very elegant, so it would be a good idea to learn how to make them. They are very simple to make, it just takes practice. You probably will not make a decent bow on the first try, but don’t give up. Practice does make perfect!!! (Watch for classes at your local craft store.) If you are unable to make your own bows, pull-bows are available. These come in many different colors, but usually only one kind of material. Other ideas for bows are tulle, jute fabric, & kraft paper ribbon. You will also need curling ribbon to tie off your bows & to attach them to your baskets.

How to Assemble a Gift Basket

To start, take your container & put your inexpensive fill in the bottom. Make sure to pack it in tightly. This will give more strength for holding the weight of the products.

If you don’t do this you might notice later that your product has sunk down in the container. Next, take a piece of cardboard & cut to fit inside container. You want it to be tall, but make sure you have enough product to hide most of it.

Once, you have your cardboard cut, cover it with a sheet of tissue paper that will match your color scheme. Pull your fill towards the front of the container a little bit and put the cardboard down inside the container & attach with clear tape.

Make sure you have enough of the cardboard down inside the container so that it won’t want to slip out. The next step is adding your decorative fill/shred.

Wood excelsior is a great fill to work with because you can shape it to fit your products. You can even mold it up the cardboard backing so you can make a nice “nest” for your products. Make sure you put enough down so the inexpensive fill doesn’t show. |

Also, keep in mind if you are using clear containers to cover the inexpensive fill with a sheet of tissue paper. You don’t want newspaper, etc. showing through your container.

Now you can start adding your product. Use the taller items for the background & keep the heavier items to the center, unless you have two heavy items that will balance each other out. Think tall when constructing!!! Height will definitely add more perceived value to your basket.

You can make things taller by adding more decorative fill/shred underneath them. Attach items to the cardboard backing with clear tape, glue dots or you can use double-sided sticky squares. |

Be careful when using the double-sided squares because they are usually very sticky & hard to remove once in place. Also, when taping items, try to tape in hidden places but where products will be the most secure.

If possible, tape the glass or plastic part of an item before taping the paper label.

Clear tape will almost always rip the paper label when you are taking the basket apart. Tape wisely. Use a good cellophane tape from an office supply store.

Try to position your products wisely and nest them in fill/shred when possible to avoid too much taping.

Once you have all of your items in place, look for “holes”. You may need to add more decorative fill between items or to cover some of the cardboard backing. This is where you can add special enhancements like flowers.

Use single flowers or buy in a bunch and just snip off the size flower you need. It’s a good idea to keep a pair of small wire cutters on hand for this. Don’t forget to look behind the cardboard backing. You may need to add some decorative fill/shred to cover the space between the cardboard & your container.

As soon as everything is perfect, you can wrap in cellophane. This can be a little tricky, especially if the basket is an odd shape or size. To start, you’ll need a large enough space to unroll at least 4′ of cellophane, depending on your container size. Unroll cellophane & place your basket in the middle, facing towards one of the corners of the wrap. Your basket will be at an angle.

To judge if you have enough, take the corner that the front of the basket is facing & hold up to the height of the basket. The cellophane needs to be at least 6″ taller than the basket.

The sides of the basket will also need to be covered, or at least have enough cellophane to fold in to the back & be taped to your cardboard backing. Once you’ve determined the amount in the front, you’ll need to have the same amount or more to cover the back of the basket.

Bring your two opposite corners up together in the center above your basket. Cellophane can tear easily so using a very sharp pair of scissors, cut the cellophane from the roll.

Move the roll off to the side. Now, starting with the front corner of cellophane, pull up to the top of your basket. Start gathering the cellophane from the sides and alternate sides as you go, until you eventually work your way to the back of the basket.

You may need to tape the cellophane here and there to your cardboard backing to get it to gather right. Once you have all of the cellophane in one hand, start pulling up on the cello & straightening out the wrinkles & crowded areas.

You want the cello to look as smooth as you can in the front & also as taut as possible. As soon as you have that, take a twist tie (like a garbage sack tie) & tie off the cellophane as close to the basket top as possible. This may seem difficult at first but after a while you’ll be able to judge the amount of cellophane you will need and come up with your own little tricks to gather it.

Now it is time to attach your beautifully, handmade bow! You can pre-make these or make them at this time. Either way, use the curling ribbon that you tied your bow off with to attach it where you tied the cellowrap with the twist tie. Secure the bow as tight as you can & then curl the ribbon with scissors.

You can also attach your business card, enclosure card or hang tag at this time. Congratulations!!! You have completed your perfect gift basket!!!

Important Notes

Be careful when putting chocolate with scented items (sachets, potpourri, candles, etc.) The chocolate will absorb the scent. Wrap chocolates or scented items separately in shrink wrap or other air tight wrap. Just be careful not to melt the chocolate if you use a heat gun for shrink wrapping!

Do not get discouraged!! It took me almost a whole day to put my first gift basket together. It is a trial an error process. You may find a better/easier way to put your baskets together. Experiment & have fun creating your own special techniques!

Tips on bowmaking—Some craft shops or floral books have steps to making bows. These may be helpful or what’s even better is finding someone who knows how to make bows & have them walk you through it. Some craft stores also hold occasional bowmaking classes. It may be frustrating at first, but once you have the hang of it, you’ll be glad you learned how. There is a big difference between handmade bows & pull-bows! Beautiful bows can make you stand apart from the competition, too!

Gift baskets are great gifts. The possibilities are truly endless. Whatever idea or theme you can think of can usually become a perfect, one-of-a-kind gift basket that no one will ever forget receiving. Creativity is the key, so let your imagination run wild!!!