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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.
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 Graters
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 Breakfast: Stonewall Kitchen New England Breakfast Gift
This lovely breakfast-themed gift basket is a great choice for host, thank you, or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts. The Maine-based retailer has packed everything you need for a bountiful New England breakfast into a beautiful Nantucket-style basket that begs to be reused.
The basket includes everything you need for a family-style spread or breakfast in bed: Farmhouse Blend Coffee, Farmhouse Pancake & Waffle Mix (pro tip: make these with buttermilk for extra fluffiness), cinnamon bun mix, rich Maine maple syrup, and a duo of signature jams, including wild Maine blueberry and strawberry (the blueberry is also great mixed with sparkling wine for a brunch-ready cocktail).
Related: The Best Waffle Makers
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.
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 Chocolate: Godiva Gold Gift Box
Godiva is synonymous with quality chocolate, and this handsome gold gift box with 36 pieces of gourmet Belgian chocolates, makes an ideal gift for the chocolate lover in your life.
The box includes an assortment of dark, milk, and white chocolate. Wow-factor signatures include Midnight Swirl, a dark chocolate shell filled with a velvety ganache; Salted Caramel Lion of Belgium, a luscious, buttery caramel enrobed in a crisp dark chocolate shell; and Almond Crunch, which features milk chocolate studded with almond pieces, all dipped in dark chocolate; and Raspberry Star, a white-chocolate-filled star with bright raspberry puree. The iconic gold gift box is wrapped in a beautiful gold ribbon, making it an ideal gift for birthdays, holidays, or even a treat yourself kind of day.
Best Candy: Dylan’s Candy Bar Best of Dylan’s Candy Bar Bucket
This gift basket is perfect for anyone who needs a sweet pick-me-up in their life. Dylan’s Candy Bar, known for its assortment of all things candy, has made things easy for you by putting together a gift basket of their most popular sweet treats. T
he Best of Dylan’s Candy Bar Bucket has a mix of fruity and chocolate treats with an array of textures, including crunchy, chewy, creamy, and gummy so it’s bound to satisfy any sweet tooth craving. The lineup includes sour flower bites, gummy bears, milk and dark chocolate bars, peanut butter truffle cups, chocolate-covered espresso beans, fudge bites, and malt balls. Each type of candy is packaged into cute containers and attractive packaging, and the whole assortment is packed in a colorful, reusable decorative tin bucket that’s perfect for replenishing with more sweet treats or for storing art or office supplies.
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!).
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."
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