The Art of Gift Baskets
Gift baskets are a perfect gift line for flower shops that can bring in new customers and extra revenue all year long.
By Nita Robertson, AIFD, CFD
Gift baskets are fantastic gift choices, and they are a perfect fit for flower shops wanting to appeal to consumers in search of gifts other than fresh flowers and plants. Florists are accustomed to handcrafting beautiful gifts by hand, and gift baskets provide another source for your creativity while bringing in new customers and additional revenue.
People love to give gift baskets because of the range of gift items that can be basketed or boxed and because they frequently contain a variety of items in them. Your offerings can include ready-made baskets or “design your own”—or both. The latter option enables you to customize and personalize baskets for any recipient’s interests, preferences and lifestyle, making the items within even more useful and appreciated by the recipients. This versatility makes gift baskets ideal gifts for almost anyone and for almost any holiday or occasion people experience throughout the year—including sympathy.
A notable driving force behind the gift-basket industry is gratitude: Many consumers purchase gift baskets with the intent of thanking someone. They are, however, also purchased for celebrations, to congratulate someone on an accomplishment or milestone in his or her life, and congratulatory baskets for events like graduations, births, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries are also common. Bereavement baskets—relatively new offerings in this segment—are also used to express sympathy for the loss of a loved one whether it be a person or a pet. Fruit-and-gourmet baskets are great options for sending comfort, but bereavement baskets can also comprise inspirational plaques, figurines, windchimes and candles, to name a few items. Don’t miss these endless opportunities to capitalize on gift-basket sales.
It’s All About the Theme
The latest gift trends are all about personalization. It is important to offer gifts that impart a sense of personalization rather than a generic feel. Combining items around themes such as special interests or hobbies makes for more meaningful gifts.
While fruit baskets and gourmet baskets have long been popular gifts to give, there are endless possibilities for creating more unique and personalized gift baskets. Some examples of gift themes include spa, local/regional goods, beauty, wellness, gardening, men’s baskets, plant lover/ plant propagation, organic and/or gluten free, foodie/chef, sweet tooth and more—the list goes on and on. To set yourself apart from other gift-basket entrepreneurs, consider using uncommon containers that are reusable gifts themselves, instead of—or in addition to—baskets. Crates, hatboxes, fabric tote bags, pottery, tins, wood boxes and large art vases are just a few alternatives to consider.
Flowers of Marietta, in Marietta, Ga., offers some creative themed gift collections. For example, its “Relax & Recharge Basket” includes a mug, tea, bath bombs, fuzzy socks, a scarf, face masks and more. The “Men’s Tool Gift Set” comes in a canvas Carhartt tool bag and includes beef jerky, a 15-in-1 multi tool, an LED flashlight, an electric bottle opener, a men’s manicure kit, a live succulent and a balloon. It is perfect when you can find a container that fits the theme for displaying the gift items in.
“The men’s baskets have been quite popular,” shares Lorianne Chappell, business development and administrative executive at Flowers of Marietta. “They are customizable, and we can add snacks, chocolates/candy, balloons, greeting cards or flower arrangements. We keep some on display and ready to go. One recent recipient our ‘Men’s Spa Basket,” which includes spa and grooming items in addition to some of the same items in our ‘Men’s Tool Gift Set,’ called to thank us, saying, ‘Most men won’t admit it, but we like getting stuff like this too!’”
Jelena Trifunovic, owner of Viola Floral in Marina del Rey, Calif., shares, “Consumers are looking for unique gifts that stand out and baskets that incorporate fun and novel products. Recently, there has been a focus on ‘relaxation’ or ‘staycation’ gift baskets versus those that carry the tone for celebrating milestones—but don’t get me wrong, those always do great, too. For example, we introduced our ‘Serenity Gift Box’ for Mother’s Day this year, and it is here to stay due to an overwhelming response and the recent focus on self-care and self-love. It features a beautiful seasonal arrangement of fresh flowers, a Voyage et Cie luxury candle, Rowsie Vain botanical body oil and a smudge stick/crystal set from Good Witch Emporium, all of which are beautifully displayed in a keepsake wood box with handles.”
Finding a gift-basket niche is always helpful, Trifunovic advises. “For example, all Viola Floral gift boxes are ‘floral inspired’ or incorporate florals in some way, including a fresh flower arrangement. From candles to luxury skincare, flowers are the theme that carries the gift,” she shares. “We also source locally, whenever possible, we buy only from female-owned businesses. Because we are a flower shop, this niche has worked well for us.”
Beauty-themed and spa gift baskets are among the most popular categories, as they have been for several years, and can be beautifully coordinated by scent/flavor, color, brand or use. They can be further niche segmented with all organic or all local products. You can also choose to purchase ready-made wholesale spa baskets, which can be labor-saving and prevent having to invest in a large inventory of items. For example, Bath Accessories Company/Spa Sister, in San Francisco, Calif., offers the “Simply Soft Gold Bowl Set,” which includes items to soften and renew skin for a luxurious at-home spa treat: a sisal exfoliating cloth, a bath sponge, an exfoliating face brush, a microfiber hair turban towel and treatment socks, all displayed in a beautiful gold bowl. This type of gift could sell well not only for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day but also all year long.
“Our talented in-house design team keeps things fun and fresh, making our value-minded and extensive product mix the perfect complement to your stores,” explains Reese Lao, marketing/communications coordinator at Bath Accessories Company/Spa Sister. “With the continuously growing popularity of spa-themed gift baskets, our florist customers have turned to us for substantial spa gifts packed in reusable containers—from apothecary jars to farmhouse chicken-wire-and-wood baskets. Our ready-made gift sets are loaded with goodies that are substantial and provide great value, and they’re ready to ship. Florists can then add their own flair to customize the gifts to their brands and aesthetics.”
Gift kits that enable the recipients to dive into a hobby or an experience they are passionate about are also trending in popularity today. Think about the items you already carry in your shop and how you can build on them. For instance, make terrarium gift kits that include all the elements needed to create an enclosed miniature garden. Another option is plant propagation gift kits that include plants that good for propagating such as pothos, heart-leaf Philodendron and ivy, combined with glass vases made for propagation or even a multi-vase propagation station/stand. Once you start researching and brainstorming about the various interests consumers have today, you’ll come up with myriad creative and unique options. Differentiating and updating your line of gift baskets or kits is a sure path to success in this category and will set you apart from other retailers and further establish your store as the place to go for trendy gifts.
Viola Floral’s best-selling gift package is “Le Box Bespoke,” which enables customers to personalize a gift box by selecting from a curated collection of nine items they feel the recipients will love—plus a lovely seasonal vase arrangement. “Thoughtfulness goes a long way, so the ability to customize gift baskets to complement a recipient’s personality or likes/dislikes is a huge selling point,” Trifunovic says. “Each recipient receives a one-of-a-kind gift that is personalized specifically for her.”
Finally, when designing your collection of gift baskets, be sure to offer each basket in two or three price points and that are substantially different in both quantity of gift items and prices. No $10 increments here; graduate each of your price points by at least $25. And name each of the various price points; for example, “Classic,” “Deluxe” and “Premium.”
Gift baskets are highly desired gifting options for both businesses and individual consumers alike, providing you with a variety of markets in which to promote them. They also allow these clients to purchase gifts from your store—in addition to or instead of fresh flowers and plants. By offering customization options and add-ons to your collection of gift baskets, customers can personalize these gifts for every recipient, making them even more special. Be sure to promote this distinguishing feature and unique value proposition.
Business and corporate clients often make up a large portion of florists’ gift-basket sales. Businesses often buy gift baskets not only as holiday presents for both clients and employees but also to celebrate those people’s milestones and other major life events—birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, retirements, etc.—throughout the year. And, most companies have long gift lists!
Therefore, it is important to market gift baskets as the perfect gifts for all occasions. Offer to design custom gift baskets for each company that coordinate with that company’s identity—gift selection, colors, and so on. Offer to tag the baskets with the company’s logo and, possibly, suggest including a branded gift from the company—such as drinkware, apparel items, small tech devices or novelty items—in the baskets (the company provides, of course). You could even suggest that a company supply branded tote bags, cooler totes or small backpacks or duffel bags for you to use as the “baskets”!
It is important to add a section to your website with pictures of your gift-basket collection as well as a page or two devoted to the customized baskets that you can design. Also, regularly post images of your gift-basket designs on your social media accounts, and create email campaigns highlighting specific holidays and year-round occasions that targeted to specific groups of customers, as well. You must continuously remind consumers that you offer gift baskets in addition to your floral gifts, and you also must provide great images of your collection so they visualize exactly what you are promoting.
Market gift baskets as great last-minute gifts for both all major holidays and all nonholiday occasions and events year-round, and be sure to suggest gift packages that comprise not only a gift basket but also a lovely seasonally or occasion-specific flower arrangement or plant, for those wanting to make a grand gesture. Finally, promote your ability to design customized and personalized gift baskets, which will differentiate your offerings from the standard and generic baskets offered by larger national retailers.
Tips for Creating Great Gift Baskets
1. Choose a theme.
2. Select a variety of gift items related to the theme.
3. Start with a great container that is a reusable gift itself. Think outside the “basket”—maybe a hatbox, a crate, a canvas tote bag or a piece of pottery.
4. Build up the base. Elevate the gift items by placing polystyrene foam, crumpled paper, shred or other type of filler into the bottom of the container.
5. Place larger and taller items toward the back and smaller, shorter items in the front, so that all the gifts are visible.
6. For stability, secure items to each other with OASIS® UGLU™ Adhesive Dashes, Glue Dots or double-sided cellophane tape.
7. All gifts should be wrapped, so wrap finished gift baskets with cellophane, and finish with beautiful ribbons; cut flowers in water tubes; ornaments, charms or medallions; or your choice of adornments and decorations.
NOTE: Look for “true” cellophane, which is made from cottonwood trees or hemp and is 100 percent biodegradable and compostable; however, it is not recyclable. Plastic/polypropylene cellophane is recyclable but not biodegradable.
8. When determining the prices for your gift baskets, in addition to the gift items inside, take into account the cost of any filler materials, the wrapping and packaging materials and adornments and the labor required to assemble the baskets. And be sure to offer at least two or three price points for each basket in your collection.