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There’s just something about a gift basket that elicits a feeling of surprise and delight, even more so when that gift basket is chockful of delicious things to eat. Gourmet gift baskets are an excellent gift-giving go-to for a variety of occasions, including birthdays, holidays, thank-yous, or just because. There are more companies than ever offering curated collections of delectable treats—from cheese to chocolates to charcuterie—so we’ve picked our favorites by category.
And while there are food gift baskets for every type of occasion and recipient, there are a few general principles to keep in mind. To help guide you, I interviewed etiquette experts for their top tips for sending a gift basket, including when to send one, how much to spend, and what to write in your note. In the end, our top choice was the Harry & David Classic Favorites Gift Box for its variety and the high quality of its gourmet treats.
Here are the best food gift baskets to send your very best.
Best Overall: Harry & David Classic Favorites Gift Box
Since 1934, Harry & David has been a go-to destination for gift baskets filled with fresh fruit and gourmet snacks. The Classics Favorites gift box offers the best of both worlds at a great value, all packed in a lovely decorative tin.
It includes Harry & David signatures such as Royal Verano pears, milk-chocolate-covered Moose Munch popcorn, and pepper and onion relish. A mix of sweet and savory treats including three-seed crackers, sharp white cheddar, milk-chocolate-covered cherries, and a variety of signature chocolate truffles round out the tasty mix. All in all, Harry & David will send more than 4 pounds of delicious munchies.
Your recipient will likely need to wait a few days for the pears to ripen, but the premium sweet and fragrant fruit are well worth the wait. Besides, they’ll have plenty to munch on in the meantime!
Best Budget: Hickory Farms Thank You Treats Gift Box
Hickory Farms was founded in 1951, and since then, it’s built a reputation for its quality sausages and cheeses. As the name suggests, this “thank you treats gift box” is a great way to express your gratitude without breaking the bank, whether it’s a teacher gift, to celebrate your office coworker, or just because (even if it’s to treat yourself).
The 1.3-pound box includes a mix of sweet and savory gourmet goodies, including Hickory Farms’ signature beef summer sausage, a duo of farmhouse cheddar and smoked gouda cheeses, sweet hot mustard, golden toasted crackers, and dark chocolate sea salt caramels. All the items are packaged in a sturdy “thank you” designed box to keep the items secure. Express shipping is available if you're in need of gift quickly.
Best Cheese: Murray's Cheese Cheeses of the World Sampler
If you’re looking for a gift basket for the cheese lover in your life, Murray’s Cheese is tops. The Cheese of the World Sampler is the ideal pick, whether your recipient is a cheese snob or just simply loves cheese.
Murray’s has done the leg work for you, selecting a half-pound each of six of their best-selling cheeses that are sure to satisfy any cheese craving. Highlights include the Mitica Drunken Goat, a Spanish semi-firm goat cheese that’s cured in Doble Pasta red wine; Pyrenees Brebis, a French sheep’s milk cheeses with sweet, grassy, and nutty undertones; and Murray’s Cave Aged Gruyere, a smooth, raw cow’s milk number with notes of caramelized apples and brown butter. The cheeses are packed in a gift box, or you can upgrade your gift by adding a signature Murray’s cheese heart tote.
Related: The Best Cheese Knives
Best Cheese & Charcuterie: Williams Sonoma European Cheese and Charcuterie Collection
Williams Sonoma is synonymous with top-notch artisan food and its European-inspired cheese and charcuterie selection makes for an excellent host, holiday, or foodie birthday gift.
All the essentials are here. The charcuterie includes 2-year-aged Italian Prosciutto; German Black Forest Schinken, a cured ham that’s cold-smoked with pine needles, fir, or juniper brush; and Salame Rustico from Parma. On the cheese side, there’s Diablo, a creamy, honeyed Swiss cheese, and Caprino Piemontese, a creamy, mild goat and cow’s milk cheese. If you’re bringing it as a hostess gift, consider picking up a bottle of wine or an artisan loaf of bread to go with it.
You can also upgrade to the European Cheese & Charcuterie Gift Crate, which also comes with panpetato, a holiday-ready sweet dried-fruit-and-nut cake, all packed in a handsome logoed wood crate.
Related: The Best Charcuterie Boards
Best Build-Your-Own: Mouth Build Your Own Gift
This custom option from Mouth lets you pick your own assortment of delicious foods according to your budget ($50 or less, $75, $100, or $150). You can also apply filters around dietary restrictions, such as kosher, no gluten, dairy-free, not-too-spicy, or nothing too “unusual.” You can also opt to have your goodies packed in a signature cotton tote.
Next, you’ll peruse items broken down by categories such as bacon, charcuterie and salami, chocolate, jam and jelly, cookies, or cocktail mixers. Start with a theme in mind so that you don’t end up with a random jumble of items. For example, a cheese-focused basket might also include crackers, pickles, and mustard. If your recipient loves spicy snacks, you might opt for a mix of say, jalapeno-stuffed olives, spicy garlic and dill pickles, and spicy potato chips.
Best Fruit: The Fruit Company Simply Fruit Basket
Fruit baskets are always a great option and an excellent pick for gluten-free and/or vegan foodies. The Fruit Company’s fruit-growing legacy dates back to the early 1940s and today, the family-owned business offers a plethora of fruit gift baskets.
The Simply Fruit Basket has something for everyone, offering a stellar assortment that includes Imperial Fuji, Granny Smith and mini apples, Italian Golden Bosc, French D'Anjou, and Columbia Red pears; Malibu Navel oranges; Maui Pineapple and Samoa Kiwi. A package of dried fruit medley rounds out the mix, and the lot is packed in a lovely woven gift basket. Upgrade your gift with additional specialty gourmet goodies such as cheese, sparkling cider, or shortbread cookies.
Related: The Best Juicers
Best Baked Goods: Wolferman’s Bakery Mix and Match Bakery Gift
If you’re looking to show your appreciation for someone, send a bit of good cheer, welcome a new neighbor, or celebrate your pastry-loving friend’s birthday, Wolferman’s Bakery’s Mix and Match Bakery Gift Pack is a pro move.
Choose a dozen items from a selection of Wolferman’s most popular sweet and savory foods, including seven different kinds of scones, three types of Belgian waffles, several loaf cake options (hello, vanilla blueberry!), and sweet rolls, which also includes their signature baklava. Once you make your selections, the items get wrapped up with a gift band of your choosing, such as congratulations or happy birthday. You can also opt for mix and batch bakery gift packs in different quantities according to your budget.
Related: The Best Waffle Makers
Best Cookies: Cheryl’s Cookies Gift Bundle with Message Tag
For four decades and counting, Cheryl’s Cookies has earned a reputation for its whimsical buttercream-frosted cut-out cookies and delectable baked goods. The Gift Bundle is the perfect way to send a sampling of confections without breaking the bank.
There are several kinds of snack-size cookies, including buttercream frosted cut-outs, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, chocolate-chocolate, and sugar cookies. It also comes with snack-size fudge brownies and two kinds of dipped pretzel clusters (which make an excellent afternoon pick-me-up). Each of the items is individually packaged, so recipients can take their time enjoying the treats (or hide them away from prying eyes!).
It all comes packaged in a lovely three-tier tower presentation and finished with a decorative tag (either “congrats” or “enjoy”). If you’re looking for more assortment, including more flavors of Cheryl’s signature buttercream-frosted cookies, opt for the Gift Tower with Message Tag.
Best Sweet & Savory: Olive & Cocoa Tastes for Everyone
Olive & Cocoa offers a sophisticated curation of gourmet gift baskets, but we’re especially smitten by the ones that feature both sweet and savory items.
All the snacking categories are covered, including tortilla chips and roasted salsa, mixed nuts, white chocolate pretzels, and chocolate almond bark. The medium size includes picnic and charcuterie-board-ready additions such as salami, farmhouse cheese, and rosemary crisps, plus raspberry cookies and cinnamon toffee popcorn. If you’re looking for a smaller selection of just snacks, go for the petite size. Gifting for a crowd or want to splurge? Opt for the large size, which in addition to the above, also includes milk chocolate pretzels, pistachios, white chocolate gummy bears, shortbread, apricot jam, and artichoke lemon pesto.
No matter which size you opt for, the gift is wrapped in a hand-crafted wood crate tied with ribbon. And when temperatures are at their warmest, the company will substitute any meltable items with items of equal or greater value (and taste!).
Best Specialty: Snuk Giving Broadly Gift Box
Snuk Foods is a woman-owned online bazaar of specialty food from all over the world, joyfully sourced and curated by expert foodies—pro chefs, seasoned cooks, traveling journalists, and more—from all over the globe. (Indeed, snuk is based on the Thai word for "fun.") The shop includes dry goods, spices, condiments, prepared food, and a lot more.
Interested but don't know where to start? If you or a loved one have been craving adding obscure ingredients or new flavors to your home cooking—or even just leveling up your pantry's contents—then Snuk's Giving Broadly Gift Box could be for you. The group has partnered with Dana Cowin, the former Editor in Chief at Food & Wine, to bring you this collection of pantry staples, including Barnacle Foods Japanese Furikake, Maryiza Tree Flora Honey, and Boonville Barn Collective's Piment d'Ville, for starters.
"Pantry essentials from around the world! All the items in this gift basket are from brands founded and run by women during the pandemic." — Emma Christensen, Editor in Chief
Related: The Best Spice Racks
Best for Coffee Lovers: Lifeboost Coffee 6-Bag Gift Box
Organic, low-acid, single-origin, shade-grown by local farmers in high-elevation—what's not to love? Oh, it's also delicious, according to our associate commerce editor, who's tried the light, medium, and dark roasts. "The medium is my favorite," she says.
Lifeboost coffee beans, single-sourced from Central America, are harvested and washed by hand, grown under the shade in high elevation. They're also third-party tested for pesticides, as well as their acidity levels, which is determined by lab-grade pH meters, according to the company's website.
Lifeboost's gift box includes six bags of either their light, medium, or dark roasts, and you can choose ground or whole bean. Also included are an inspirational mug, a coffee scoop, and a sweet treat (your choice of either biscotti or toffee) for the coffee connoisseur in your life.
"These beans have the fragrant, crisp smell I love after grinding, and after several minutes in my press, I get smooth coffee that doesn't lack in flavor. I can't tell that it's low in acid, other than the absence of a bitter aftertaste and the fact that my stomach doesn't complain half an hour later." — Fran Sales, Associate Commerce Editor
Related: The Best Coffee Grinders
Best Dessert Board: Harry & David Dessert Board Gift
Dessert charcuterie boards are a new trend that we can get behind. If your Valentine is also a fan, consider this seasonal Dessert Board from Harry & David. The stars of the show here are the raspberry-filled shortbread cookies, the heart-shaped dark chocolate-covered raspberry galettes, and the milk chocolate hearts with milk chocolate crème filling. After those have been appreciated, there's still sweetness to be had with yogurt-covered pretzels and chocolate-covered cherries. Cheese, crackers, and an ancho chili-spiced chutney help for any savory breaks. The included acacia wood cutting board works perfectly for display and is a great addition to the kitchen.
Related: The Best Food Gifts
What to Look for When Sending a Gift Basket
Behind the biggest consideration, your budget, you need to look at the shipping area and costs before hitting "order." Not every company ships to every state and/or internationally (APO/FPO addresses included). This gets especially tricky if you add in any products containing alcohol. On the plus side, many companies now have express shipping if you need something sent quickly, and packaging has improved significantly over the years.
Sending a basket of mostly, or only, perishable items can get tricky as well. These items deserve faster-than-standard shipping, but you can look into how well perishables are packed. Dry ice, insulated coolers, and gel ice packs are all commonplace, but not every company utilizes them for all perishable gifts.
Of course, you should check if your recipients will be available to receive the basket. Once they arrive, perishable items should be unpacked and stored away as fast as possible. If your recipient is unavailable, they might open up a box of rotted fruit.
When should you send a gift basket?
Gift baskets are a great anytime gifting option, but according to etiquette experts, there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind.
"There is never a bad time to send a gift basket," says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. "A gift basket can be a gesture of kindness, friendship, good will, congratulations, or condolence. It’s important to make the basket personal so it does not appear as an afterthought."
"Often gift baskets are for less significant events but that doesn’t mean a gift basket couldn’t be a wedding gift—it’s just less common," says Lizzie Post, co-president at the Emily Post Institute and co-author of "Emily Post’s Etiquette, 19th edition." "Most often [gift baskets are sent] when someone is going through a hard time, when you’ve stayed with someone, or sometimes as a welcome gift basket to a new neighbor."
How much should you spend?
When it comes to how much you should spend, consider your personal budget, the occasion, and your relationship to the recipient. "Every gift you ever give is always determined by your own budget, not the occasion you’re giving for," says Post. "It’s 100% what works for you, the giver, and what you can do within your own means."
Gottsman agrees that there’s no set standard on what you should spend. "It can include something as small as a few candy bars and popcorn for a kid’s themed movie night or more elaborate fare for a hostess gift," she says. "The amount depends on your budget and the relationship you have with the individual."
What should you say in your note?
What you write in your card or note depends on the occasion, your relationship to the recipient, and how much space you have. If you’re purchasing a gift basket online and filling out a pre-printed note, you may be limited by word count.
Gottsman advises to, "Always include a gift card and send a ‘congratulations, happy birthday, thank you for letting us stay at your lovely home, etc.’ [sentiment]." As for length, she says, "It is not a letter or even a long note, but a brief comment to let the person know the nature of your gift."
Post advises considering the occasion to help you strike the right tone. "If it’s a thank you, express gratitude; if it’s a welcome basket, it’s [conveying] welcome and good cheer; if it’s during a hard time, like a sympathy basket, keep a sympathetic tone, like ‘sorry you’re going through a hard time, hope this brings a little bit of cheer," she says. A one-line note works well for a welcome basket for your new neighbors, whereas an upbeat, three-liner works well for host gifts, Post says.
What should you consider when building your own gift basket?
"When putting together a gift basket, I do try to set myself a budget because it’s very easy to go overboard," Post says. "I try to give something where nothing has to be returned, like the basket. And [aim for] a cohesive mix of items in the basket [that reflect] the theme."
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Food writer and avid home cook Layla Khoury-Hanold is the person friends and family turn to for recipe ideas and product recommendations (she once made 16 cheesecakes to find the best springform pan). An intrepid researcher, she mines her own experience along with internet guides and consumer reviews to do the legwork so home cooks can find the product that best suits their needs.
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