Saturday, December 10, 2011

Build a Basket.......on the cheap!

Tomorrow our church will have it's annual Christmas dinner and, since we generally bring a small gift for the priest, I needed to pull something together today.  Richard and I had talked about giving him a fruit basket since he doesn't eat meat.  While putting together his basket, I thought some of you might like a tutorial on how it's done, or at least my frugal version of building a basket.

While at Walmart during the week, I picked up a fun basket for $6 or so.   I really like it because it's made like an old-fashioned fruit basket but with a black Santa belt.  Today we found ourselves at Super Target in Lafayette after attending Catherine's 2nd birthday party, so we picked up a few fruits and a bag of Zapp's potato chips.

To begin, gather the items you'll need: a basket of any shape or size, the plastic bag for wrapping, several pieces of fruit of your choice, paper to use as filling, tape, twist tie, card or name tag, and one contrasting item (in this basket it's the Zapp's).  

The first step is to fill the bottom of the basket with paper, especially if it's rather deep.  Too much fruit in the basket will result in mashed fruit at the bottom, especially if it will travel quite a distance.  In that case, the paper will also cushion the fruit.  

For this basket I used recycled Christmas wrap.  Crush or shred the paper so that it fits in the bottom of the basket.  If the basket is really deep, put some used grocery bags or extra paper in first.  I put enough paper to fill the basket almost to the very top.

Now you're ready to begin putting the items in the basket.  I start with one large item, placed at the back of the basket.  Then I add fruit on either side of the large item.

I like to separate the fruit so that the colors are distributed around the basket.  Admittedly, I do lots of playing around while trying to place the items.  

In this basket I added the Zapp's potato chips but I always add in something that is not fruit or fruit based: chocolate, pretzels, a tin of old-fashioned hard candies, candles, cookies, etc.  Doing that adds to the textures, scents, flavors and so on.  

I especially like the sweet/salty mix of chips or pretzels with the fruit.  Just be careful when making your choice.  You don't want to give pretzels to someone who can't have salt!  Sugar-free cookies or candy with fruit make a great gift for a diabetic.  Fruit with caramel dip and peanut butter (or Nutella) make a good basket for a family with children.  How about fruit and cheese with a bottle of wine for newlyweds?

Once all of the fruit is arranged in the basket, spread the plastic bag on a large surface so that you can open and flatten the bottom of the bag.  Roll the top edges out so that they will be out of the way.

Gently put the basket in the center of the bag and unroll the sides until the bag is completely open.  Tuck the corners in and tape down if necessary.  

To add the card or name tag, punch a small hole in the top left corner and string the twist tie on.

Now gather the top of the bag well above the basket and fruit and gently push out most of the extra air.  Use the twist tie to hold in place.  Add a large ribbon for fun and you now have a beautiful gift basket ready for giving.
You can use the same basic technique for other baskets and save money.  Put together a basket of baking goods with measuring cups and spoons for someone who like to bake, bath products and candles for a young teen, gardening hand tools and packets of seeds for the gardener and so on.  

The final cost of this basket was about $12, including the basket, plastic wrap, fruit and chips.  I picked up the plastic wrap at the dollar store, carefully made my choices for fruit, and used recycled Christmas paper for my filler, all of which helped me to put together this basket for half the price of purchasing one ready-made.


jenclair said...

A great gift and a thoughtful one, Mary. Thanks for sharing!

Monique (A Half-Baked Notion) said...

A great alternative to the paper padding is a cheery festive towel or apron for someone who loves to cook.

Fruit baskets seem to be a very popular gift. Thanks for the lovely pointers, Mary!

Annabellouise said...

What a lovely gift. Food is always a winner with me.