Wrapping a Gift Basket
or Open Gift Container

Tips for wrapping a gift basket.
Basket gift wrapping techniques also apply
to many other open containers.

There are three basic steps to wrapping gift baskets and other open containers:

  1. Selecting the basket/container.
  2. Assembly: positioning and anchoring the gift(s).
  3. Wrapping, decorating and labeling the gift.
Let's take them one at a time.

1. Selecting a basket (or other open gift container)

Baskets come in wonderful shapes! Look for one that symbolizes the season or occasion, or reflects the recipient's interests, or is related to the gift. As for size, not overly large please - a stuffed basket looks better than a sparsely-filled basket.

Other open containers - Many purchased gift baskets are actually presented in a themed container rather than a basket. For example, gourmet gifts often come on serving trays, gardening gifts in a watering can or planter. Here's a more detailed discussion of themed gift baskets.

Keep an eye open wherever you shop - you'll find creative gift packaging ideas all around you. Whatever container you choose should sit flat and be sturdy enough to support the gifts. And, of course, the opening must be wide enough to accept your gift(s).

2. Arranging and anchoring the gifts

Prepare the container
Base padding may or may not be needed (depending on the container and the contents), but you may want it for one or more of these purposes:

  • to provide a soft cushion for fragile gifts
  • to help stabilize the container
  • to elevate the gifts so they show over the rim of the container.

Foam or crumpled tissue are good for cushioning. Crumpled brown or white packing paper is good for elevating gifts in deep containers. A plastic bag full of packing (or popped) popcorn will do both jobs. For a garden-themed gift basket, a small bag of potting soil works well.

A piece of stiff cardboard at the bottom (e.g., pad backing) will add stability to a non-rigid container. Or, placed atop the base padding, cardboard provides a sturdy, level platform for gifts that need to remain upright.

Choose a filler
Flat or crinkled paper shred or Easter basket grass are commonly used in wrapping a gift basket, to separate gift items and eliminate awkward spaces. You can make your own shred from colorful throwaways like used gift wrap, magazine pages, ad brochures or the Sunday comics. If you buy a shredder for this purpose, avoid "crosscut" or you'll end up with confetti!

Softly crumpled tissue paper is another choice, and curling ribbon curls also make dandy filler. Embellishments like small silk or tissue paper flowers, greens, tiny pine cones, or individually wrapped candies add a nice finishing touch.

Filler gifts
You'll also need some small, inexpensive-but-useful gift items for wrapping gift baskets, to fill in the spaces between the primary gifts. Granola bars, key rings, pencils or markers, refrigerator magnets, lip balm, AA batteries and individually-wrapped candies are good examples. A supply of filler gifts is worth a special trip to the dollar store.

If you are wrapping a gift basket in clear or colored cellophane, the gifts inside will be visible. You might wish to conceal a few by wrapping them individually. Small unboxed gifts can be rolled in tissue and closed with a twist at each end; or if fragile, in a section of cardboard tube.

If you are using a shallow container such as a tray, let tall gift items lie flat; in a tall or deep container, position them upright. Place the largest or heaviest gift near the center of the container, for balance. Anchor tall, fragile or odd-shaped/tippy gifts to the container handle or other rigid part. Or, you can tie, band or tape individual gifts together to prevent shifting.

Then add the other gift items in an attractive, balanced arrangement. Insert more filler between the gifts for a finished look, and to hold everything in place.

Two notes:
First, it's not necessary to make a symmetrical 360-degree arrangement when wrapping a gift basket - even in a round container, the arrangement can have a front and a back. You can even make a backdrop to stand behind the gift items.

Second, with a deep container, or one with a narrow opening (like a bean pot), it's OK if a few gift items are out of sight below the rim.

3. Wrapping a gift basket

Basket gift wrapping is similar to making a tissue wrapping paper pouch. Typically, gift baskets are completely enclosed in cellophane or a poly look-alike. Extra-wide cello and translucent film wrap are available, and poly/cello basket bags can be found in party supply stores.

Tulle, a fine net fabric, has become popular for wrapping a gift basket - some people consider it more elegant than cello. Tulle can be purchased by the yard in fabric stores and it, too, is nice and wide.

Since cellophane and poly wraps are translucent, you may wish to line them with tissue paper, tulle or other very lightweight fabric to conceal the gifts inside. Or, as suggested above, you can wrap a few surprises individually before positioning them in the basket.

If your container is extra-large or has protruding parts (e.g., a wagon), you can wrap just the gift items and not the whole container. Line the interior with enough wrap to extend over the gifts. Arrange the gifts and filler inside, on top of the wrap, then draw the wrap over the gifts and tie. To unwrap, lift the gift parcel from the container - or just cut away the wrapper.

Tip: As you're wrapping a gift basket, the gathered cello may be bulky and difficult to tie with one hand while holding it in place with the other. Slip a large elastic band over one wrist before gathering the wrap, then you can easily slide the elastic onto wrap. Now both hands are free for tying the ribbon.

A nice puffy bow or a cascade of curling ribbon are attractive accessories for your well-dressed gift basket or other open container. A hanging label is perfect for an upright gift basket. On a flat container, position the label at the base of the bow - use a tie or tape to secure it, or use a self-stick gift tag.

The gift "basket" offers
lots of options - for containers, gift items,
fillers, and wrapping materials.

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