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Homemade gift baskets can be a great way to save money or to put together a last minute gift. They can be personalized for specific occasion (like a wedding) or a basket everyone could enjoy (a family night out basket). The best things about them are that they are easy to make and you don't have to go out and buy all of the items at once. Pick up things here and there when you find them on clearance. Dollar stores are one of my favorite places to find items to use for just about anything. It can take some time, but weeding thru the "junk" can reveal some real treasures. Mix and match with things you have made yourself (soaps, bath salts, sachets, etc.) and / or picked up cheaply, and you have a champagne gift at a beer price! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

For Men

Sports Baskets – some of their favorite snacks / drinks; mug/glass with their team logo; t-shirt or cap with team logo; a coupon from you to watch the kiddos when they want the house to themselves to watch a game. And you can always find odds and ends for sports lovers – just keep your eyes open.

Mechanic / Woodworker – duct tape, electrical tape, wrenches, hammer, screwdrivers, hand wash, towels, screws, nails, saw, etc. Throw in a t-shirt with a cute saying or a little plaque. (I have seen ALL of these items at dollar stores!)

Family Baskets

Game Night – deck of cards, set of dice, pads of paper, box of pencils, Hoyle Cards game book, any board game, kool-aid mix, pack of snacks and plastic cups.

Movie Night – family oriented movie, popcorn, drinks/sodas, candy, and gift certificates to a theatre or a place where they can buy a movie of their choice. Line the basket with washable napkins!

Kids

Rainy Day – coloring books, crayons/markers, silly putty, watercolors & paint brushes, activity tablet, craft book, cards, games. The list is endless. Line the basket with a smock or an old men's shirt!

Anyone

Stationary Basket – paper, envelopes, labels, pens/pencils, postcards, stickers, book of stamps. Put it all in a box (for storage) that you decorate with wrapping paper or fabric scraps!

Baby Basket – this is a great one for the dollar stores and thrift stores! Bibs, booties, pacifiers, bottles, burb cloths, safety pins, diapers (cloth and disposable), wipes, washcloths, baby powder, baby bath wash, baby shampoo, clothes, gift certificates, coupons (from local papers), coupons to babysit or cook dinners or help out around the house. Put all of this in a diaper bag or other container that can be reused – like a laundry basket, storage container, diaper holder, etc.

Sewing Basket – needles, thread, buttons, scissors, patterns, fabric edging, etc. Check local fabric/craft and discount stores to see when they are having a sale. Include coupons for both traditional walk-in stores and online stores!

Meal Basket – all the ingredients (plus the recipe) to make dinner, including side dishes. This is a great housewarming gift for those moving into their first apartment or home. You can make it specific if you know a particular type of food they like, such as Italian or Chinese.

Bedtime Basket – another great one for kids, this can be used for anyone. Fantastic if someone is going into the hospital! Hairbrush/comb. Toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, lotion, travel or regular clock, pajamas, slippers, small pillow, throw blanket.

"Be Good To Yourself" Basket – this is a great one if you make some of the things yourself, gives it that really personal touch. Soap, body wash, bubble bath, bath salts or bath oils, massage oils, towel and washcloth set, candles, loofah or sponge.

As you can see, the possibilities really are endless. And just because they are called "baskets", don't limit yourself. Use unusual containers to place your items in – like laundry baskets, back packs, cooking pots, etc. Its all the better if they can use the "basket", too! Many items can be found at low prices just by shopping around. Check dollar stores, thrift stores, garage sales, even your own attic and basement. It's amazing what you can find to use. Lastly, don't be afraid to give a homemade gift. The time and effort you put into making it is sure to be appreciated as much as the gift itself.

Brenda Spagnola-Wilson is a moderator and community leader at www.BabyUniversity.com and lives in Texas with her husband and two children. She enjoys writing about a variety of topics, with her main focuses being home improvement & decorating, saving money, being a SAHM and general home care. Currently she is the Co-Editor of the At Home with Baby University Newsletter.
 
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