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What is a Gift Basket?

According to the publication Supermarket News, gift baskets are steadily growing in popularity. Originally, baskets typically included mostly food, drink or toiletries. Today, the market has expanded such that entire baskets can be made up of butter, coffee, baby goods or even items related to sports and hobbies, such as golf and tennis.

The question remains, then, "What is a gift basket?" The gift basket is a concept that may be traced back to antiquity. The idea of giving not just a single gift but a selection or collection of items centered around a theme, brand or category carries great power. It also speaks to versatility. Gift baskets are often good choices for acquaintances you do not know well, business associates, and groups of people.

Theme
Gift baskets are typically built around a theme. For example, an online bakery offers breakfast gift baskets that feature its specialty English muffins. Baskets abound that speak to personal interests, hobbies, or that reflect the recipient's affection for a certain industry. Golf, tennis and even bowling gift baskets are available at online and traditional retailers. A scent or color story can also provide a theme for a bath and body or stationery (paper) gift basket.

Product Type
In days past, the question, "What is a gift basket?" could typically be answered by this reply: It is a collection or selection of products of a certain types. Today, product-type gift baskets prevail. You can find varied types of candy, such as chocolates, toffees and brittles in a single basket, or a basket of different types of forms of chocolates, for example, chocolate bars, filled chocolates and chocolate chips. Wines, beers, cheeses and sausages are common product type choices. More esoteric selections such as caviar, pates and olive oils are also available.

Brand
Brand-focused gift baskets have been a part of the U.S. retail landscape for decades. Harry & David and Hickory Farms are two of the best-known of retailers that include only their own brand of goods in each basket. Newer or trendier establishments have jumped on the bandwagon: Starbucks, Jelly Belly and Ghirardelli are among them.

Trend
As with any other area of retail, the gift basket market is influenced by trends. As of 2013, healthy food gifts - such as nuts and low-fat, low-sugar snacks - were popular. As might be expected, the opposite trend, that of the junk-food basket, to include fried chips and high-fat, high-cholesterol selections, is a frequent order. When items such as artisan beers, handmade chocolates or homemade scones become all the rage, gift baskets that include them boast increased sales numbers.

Personalization/Customization
During the materialistic 1990s, when extravagant spending was at a high, personalization in gift-giving was also in demand. Gift baskets lend themselves well to the concept of personalization. Some retailers allow you to choose the items in a basket. Others interview you about the recipient's preferences in the interest of creating a gift that is memorable, tasteful and unique.

So, what is a gift basket? It might be made up of just about any item or item grouping. The key to success in giving is understanding and accommodating the tastes or interests of the recipient.

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