After much planning of our company holiday gifts, I thought “why keep it to myself?” Although my thought didn’t include quotation marks.
So here you go: See how in just a few steps, with a little planning, you can pull together a fun, very unique gourmet food and craft gift for your friends, family and even business clients. (And if you have a retail store or food business, help your customers put together gifts by sharing this article!)
Start with your high level gifting goals
Get off to the right start by considering what kind of gifting experience you want to create. Or, more specifically, your giftee’s experience. ask yourself: What do I want the recipient’s experience to be?
- How do I want them to react when they receive and open it? (Imagine them doing so.)
- What do I want them to think and feel as they “use” the gift? Is it all about them relaxing, feeling or looking good, learning, sharing, and / or feeling good about me and how I ____(helped, relaxed, taught etc) them?
- Do I want something to remain after the gift is used / consumed?
Pulling together a gift with a story
Whether or not the package in which you deliver the goods is a keeper, let’s look at how you can pull together a gift with contents that in themselves have meaning and stories to make your gift all the more special.
Figure out your budget
Oh money. When you’re on a budget of say $50 or less, you may be tempted to turn to a garden-variety gift basket or something from an import store.
Plan to get volume discounts
The biggest bang for your buck is to order in quantity at deeply discounted prices. Why? When you do, you can often get prices up to 50% lower than the retail price. Whether ordering for party favors, corporate gifts, or just for lots of friends, consider teaming with others to ordering massive amounts for these massive savings through Buyer’s Best Friend’s wholesale catalog. Your orders go directly to the manufacturers, which gives you another personal touch for your gift story.
Choose a style
Consider what will appeal to your recipients. Homemade may say charming to you. But…it may say cheap to your friends or clients. The smaller batch and more hand-crafted your gifts, the higher the cost, whether you’re making or buying. Tell the story for each item you include in the gift to add to the experience. If you choose items that are sustainably produced with only the best ingredients, be sure to tell that story too.
Pick a theme
Coming up with a theme will simplify planning your gift contents.
- locally made
- a fireside snack (mug, marshmallows, hot chocolate or a hot chocolate kit, an edible or blown glass stirring stick)
- fireside picnic (artisan mustard, crackers, aged cheese, aged salami, silkscreened pantry cloth)
- back to the future (modern twists on old favorites)
- spice of life (locally made spice mixes and a cool grinder or mortar and pestle)
- DIY cocktail kit (like Sonoma Syrup swizzle sticks, award winning American spirits, and some cute glasses)
- handmade tea (jam, shortbread, tea, a little knife).
Or, your theme might send a bigger message like “peace” (filled with Fair Trade goods) or “well being” (focused on the healthy). Or, it could tie in with something you want to convey about yourself. Like if you’re a creative business person, make the gift echo your own creativity.
Going back to your budget, some of these things are easy to make yourself if you’re so inclined. Hot chocolate in a jar entails grinding up gourmet chocolate with dry milk and sugar. Be sure to list any nuts, flour etc. on a tag or label for eaters with allergies.
Do you want the recipient to end up with something. A wooden box? A glass jar they can re-use? Don’t underestimate the charm of glass jars for holding food or bath products. (Also don’t under-estimate the shipping weight and need for packing material).
It’s easier and cheaper than ever to personalize items with a photo or message these days. A mug or some other tool your recipient could use ongoing — or which you might use to hold tea or hot chocolate — adds a memorable touch to the gift.
Packaging for your DIY gifts: Nashville Wraps is a great resource for food-grade cello bags and boxes. Think of local arts and crafts shops for crates. Check out Etsy for DIY box and basket ideas as well as sources to buy cute packaging.
Also plan for how you’ll need to pad any gifts you’re shipping.
I like to support local gift card makers, if possible, and write the greetings by hand. (While you’re recollecting how to write, try adding a personal note, which these days adds real meaning to your gift.) Check Etsy or search for “gift cards” with your local area in the name. Also see if local non-profits may have a program to create cute gift cards.
You might even get some nice paper and write a letter instead of a traditional gift card. A rubber stamp on the front, with the card hole punched and tied with twine or simply included will make your gift a little cuter too.
Delivery can make or break your budget.
Be sure to budget your shipping and try to ship early, so you can get ground rates. USPS has fabulous flat rate box options. You might even plan your gift size around being able to use flat-rate boxes.
Avoid perishable foods to reduce expedited shipping costs. Then again if you’re running late, take advantage of having to ship expedited to deliver something frosty-good.
Shortcuts to a great gifts
- Go where the good food is
- Get efficient by centralizing your buying…unless the joy of running around makes the entire gifting experience more fun for you.
- Shopping at local farmers’ market and craft fairs (like the new Patchwork series) are time-honored spots to find unique, handmade items.
- Shop online — keeping in mind if the site you’re buying from fulfills themselves so you’ll get all the goods at once, versus being shipping directly from the producers, meaning a bunch of packages will be coming in. Zingermans is always a great go-to for interesting foods. A nice, new addition to the world of online gourmet food shops is Buyer’s Best Friend’s online catalog of foods and goods — all procured directly from the producers.
Share the tasks with friends
Got friends or colleagues who like to cook or make things? Split up who makes, who buys and plan a gift with others.
Ready-made, personalized boxes
Plenty of artisan food manufacturers and Etsy-style crafters will pull together a gift tower or box or basket for you. The photo shown is from p.o.p. candy, made by a sweet couple based in Los Angeles who dress up their nut butter crunch tins and boxes with a personalized cards or stickers, a simple and crowd-pleasing alternative to, say, popcorn (a perennial holiday gift fave).
A ready-to-eat, regional food-themed box such as this Artisans of Wisconsin Gift Box pulled together by Quince & Apple will impress and surely delight. The nice wooden box gives your recipient something to remember the nice experience.
The more foodie your area the more likely you’ll find ready-made baskets like from Give Portland. Gift basket-oriented shops like New York’s famous Chelsea Market Baskets and the San Francisco Bay Area’s Market Hall can pull together a regional theme for you.
Plenty of food companies list wholesale priced gift boxes on Buyer’s Best Friend, which you can buygiven you meet the minimum volumes as well as other options through their retail online catalog. Be sure to order very early — and even investigate if the producers can directly ship out gifts if you’re strapped for time.
Your checklist for a great gift
It’s never too early to start planning and lock in your gift. Here’s your to do list.
|The experience you want to create||What will make your gift really special?|
|What’s the total budget? Divide by the number of gifts. Back in the various costs to determine what you can give.|
|Theme||What’s the theme?|
|Gift cards||Write a letter, use a card, or both?|
|Packaging||What type of packaging to hold the gift, to pad it, and to ship it (if applicable)?|
|Delivery||How will you get them there?|
Want to promote DIY food gifts? You’re free to reprint for your shop or your business as is with attribution, or edit the article with a line “adapted from…”