My father owned a flower shop for over 20 years, and working in that flower shop was one of my very first jobs. I’d take orders, water plants, sweep up, inflate balloons, and other menial — but necessary — jobs around the store.
Gradually I worked my way up to arranging simple bud vases out of carnations or roses, or wrapping flowers in tissue, presentation style, with a hand-made bow.
Eventually I dubbed myself an “actual florist” when I moved to Savannah, Ga., after college and worked in a local flower shop on Wilmington Island, making all kinds of floral arrangements, corsages, bouquets … you name it.
And, while I loved flexing my creative muscles by putting together huge, beautiful floral masterpieces, there’s another facet to most small town flower shops: gift baskets.
I’ve made my fair share of goodie and gift baskets over the years—big and small, filled with food, or filled with plants. They’re fun to put together, and even MORE fun to receive!
Often times a gift basket is filled with the things you’d never buy yourself, because either they’re “too gourmet” or they’re not practical in an “everyday” kinda way.
This is a good thing! It can encourage you to try a new product, or a flavor of something you’d otherwise skim over at the store.
“Cherry and jalapeno together? What?”
How To Make A Gift Basket Someone Actually Wants
1. Jams, Jellies, and Apple Butters
So many places offer your standard strawberry or raspberry jam, but when you’re building a gift basket it’s fun to pick goodies that are a little more original and unique. Something your friend might never pick for herself! Check out the Cherry Jalapeno Jam, Cinnamon Pear Jam or Boysenberry Jam from Kauffman’s Fruit Farm for a treat that’s outside the box, or a classic apple butter from Frederick mainstay McCutcheon’s Apple Products. Include a package of light and fluffy croissants from your favorite local bakery.
2. Wine, Craft Beer, Cider, Liquor or Vintage Soda
Living in the Frederick area affords us the unique opportunity of having soooooo many different beverage options at our fingertips for gifting, many of which are produced and bottled locally! Make sure to include a bottle of something fun to wash down all the edibles in the basket. A sauvignon blanc or fume blanc from a Maryland winery is always a spot on pick — but if you’re struggling to decide on a variety, visit the Wine Kitchen on the Creek to enjoy a flight, and then buy your favorite on site.
Head over to grab a six pack of Flying Dog Brewery’s White Peach Saison (available mid-August), or to Monocacy Brewing Company for Brewtus (a robust brew with coffee notes) — both are tasty, original craft brews that any connoisseur would be delighted to receive.
Or, maybe your recipient isn’t into alcohol (hey … it happens!). If so, I’d head right down to the North Market Pop Shop, to pick up a four pack from over 400 varieties of soda pop, most of which are glass-bottled, cane-sugar sweetened, vintage-style soda pop. Fun!
3. Gift Cards
Specifically, a gift card or gift certificate to do something: dinner out, movies, an artsy night at Muse Paint Bar, or towards an evening at the Weinberg! There are so many fun activities that we don’t often bother to spend money on ourselves, but sure do appreciate it when others give us the nudge.
Add a pop of color by including a small Gerber daisy or tiny rose plant, or a mason jar filled with local cut flowers from the farmers’ market or a local florist. There’s something uplifting and fun about receiving a bouquet of flowers, a treat that’s often perceived as not worth the splurge. (Oh, but it is!)
Pro Tip: If you go with cut flowers, be sure not to fill the container (a mason jar works well) too full when you’re transporting the basket, otherwise your goodies will likely get waterlogged.
5. Cheese and Crackers and Chocolate
Munchies. You can’t call it a “gift basket someone actually wants” without savory and sweet noshes at their fingertips. So, I’d head to Crisafulli’s Cheese Shop to find the perfect little assortment of sharp cheddar, funky bleu, and creamy brie — and don’t forget the crackers or toast points to go with it.
As for chocolates, there are plenty of local shops where you can find truffles and other treats. If you’re looking for a bar or two of imported chocolate on the cheap, check out your local Aldi! They have an amazing section of German and other European chocolate varieties in stock at all times.
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