25 Easy, Inexpensive and Tasteful Gift Basket Ideas and Recipes

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25 Easy, Inexpensive and Tasteful Gift Basket Ideas

These 25 easy gift basket ideas are an inexpensive and tasteful way to make great holiday gift baskets. You’ll find tips, specific themes and easy mix recipes for great and inexpensive gifts!

Gift Basket Ideas And Recipes

Need Gift Ideas for Christmas but don’t want to spend a lot? Here are some tips to help you remember your friends without breaking the bank:

  • Buy items in sets and divide them among the baskets. Buy a four pack of nail polish for four ladies baskets or buy packs of whistles or other party favors for the kids.
  • Remove individual popcorn, coffee or cocoa packets from their boxes. They will fill the baskets better.
  • Shop garage sales and thrift stores for baskets and other containers.
  • Dollar stores have lots of great inexpensive gift ideas. Browse!
  • Use cellophane bags to package your mixes. They are inexpensive when purchased at party stores or florists.
  • A gift can be as simple as tea bags in a tea cup tied with a pretty ribbon. A large soup mug and saucer with soup mix or a small glass bowl with some potpourri might also make a simple but nice gift.


Housewarming Gift Basket

Try making these specialty gift baskets:

  • Football Fan– (teenage boys, brothers, fathers and brothers-in-law!) Fill a large bowl purchased at the dollar store with candy bars, bags of microwave popcorn, sodas, chips, dips, a favorite football flag or hat, and a calendar of game days.
  • Fisherman– In a tackle box or fish bowl put hooks, bait, line, hot chocolate or sodas, trail mix, gloves, fishing magazines and a fish pillow.
  • Dog– In a dog bowl, place a ball, old sock with a knot tied in it, dog bones, rawhides, a leash, a name tag and a brush. You might include a picture of a mailman with “the enemy” written on it.
  • Cat– In a cat litter box, place a catnip toy, cat food, a poop scoop, a leash, a name tag and a little rubber mouse.
  • Car– In a large bucket, place fuzzy dice, air freshener, wax, car wash, chamois (“Shammy”), tire cleaner, a car trash can, a key ring, ice melter for cars and an ice scraper.
  • Baby Basket– Spray paint a basket white and line it with a baby blanket or use a diaper bag. Fill with bibs, baby oil, baby lotion, baby powder, diaper ointment, a teething ring, burp cloths, wipes and a rattle.
Inexpensive Homemade Gift Basket
  • Relaxing Basket– Line a basket with a hand towel. Add a lavender candle, bath oil or bubble bath, bath salts, bath balls, a favorite magazine or book, a poof and scented soap, and a do not disturb sign (Make one out of a piece of cardboard).
  • Coffee Lover – In a basket, include flavored coffee packets, cinnamon sticks dipped in chocolate, wrapped in cellophane and tied with a ribbon, cookie mix or cookies, flavored powdered creamer and a coffee cup.
  • Baker’s Delight – Line a large mixing bowl with a dish towel. Add cookie mixes, hot chocolate mixes, brownie mix, muffin mix, a package of walnuts, measuring cups and pot holders. Of course, be sure to include a copy of Dining on a Dime :)
  • Ice Cream Lover Place tissue paper on the bottom of a basket. Add sundae dishes, an ice cream scoop, nuts, hot fudge sauce, butterscotch sauce, chocolate syrup, Maraschino cherries and a gift certificate for 2 1/2 gallons of ice cream.
  • Soup Basket- In a basket, stock pot or bean crock, add large soup mugs, 7 bean soup, cornbread mix, cookie mix and oyster crackers wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with a ribbon.
  • Nail Polish Basket- In a pretty bucket or basket, add a variety of nail polish, emery boards, nail clippers, polish remover, cotton balls, hand cream, cuticle cream and a nail buffer.
  • Family Night– In a large bowl, add a puzzle or game, popcorn, candy bars, soda, hot chocolate mix and mugs.
  • Fruit Basket- Line a basket with tissue paper. Add apples, oranges, hot chocolate mix, various teas and dried fruits (like figs or raisins). Sprinkle in the shell nuts on top of everything.
  • Cookie Delight-In a basket lined with tissue paper, add two cookie mixes in cellophane bags or jars tied with ribbons, Russian Tea (also in a cellophane bag or small jar tied with ribbon), cookie cutters, a teacup and two pot holders.
  • Chocolate Lover- In a basket, add Hot Chocolate Mix, Brownie Mix, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Mix, Party Mints, Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix and a small package of marshmallows.

Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe

8 cups dry milk
4 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups cocoa
1 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer
1 sm. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix

Sift the ingredients into a large bowl. Place the mix into an airtight container.

Attach this to the jar:

Hot Chocolate

5 Tbsp. (1/3 cup) Hot Chocolate Mix
1 cup hot water (not boiling)
marshmallows or whipped cream

Place the Hot Chocolate Mix into a mug. Add hot water. Stir until Hot Chocolate mix is dissolved. Garnish as desired with marshmallows or whipped cream. Serves 1.


Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix Recipe

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins and/or nuts

In a bowl, mix together first 5 ingredients. Place in an air tight container. Package raisins and nuts separately.


3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Mix topping ingredients in a bowl. Package in a small cellophane bag.

Attach this to the jar:

Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix

To prepare, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together: Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix, raisins and/or nuts, 1 cup apple juice, 2 Tbsp. oil, 1/2 cup applesauce.

Stir just until combined. Spoon into lightly greased muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. While still warm, dip in melted margarine and then topping. Makes 12-15 muffins.

For more gift basket tips and recipes like these, check out our Dining On A Dime Cookbook!


Lower Your Food Bill With Food You Family Will Love!

Would you like to serve food that will lower your grocery bill and your family will love to eat?

Click here to get the Dining On A Dime Cookbook, with tasty recipes and great tips to make your life easier and save you money!



  1. Gail says

    In the Apple Cinnamon Muffin mix, the instructions say to mix together, and the list includes margarine but doesn’t specify how much. Do you add margarine to the mix, or is this only to make the topping stay on? Sort of confusing.

  2. Jenni says

    I’m at work right now and in near tears for the absolutely FANTASTIC ideas you have here!!!!! I’ve been stressing – well, ‘overly concerned’ – at what to do for family gifts this year. These are the best ideas I’ve heard in a long time. Thank you for your creativity and sharing it with us. I just purchased 3 of the Dining on a Dime books (for gifts) and 1 of the Digging out of Debt (for MY family). I love the idea of a Baker’s Delight basket – just perfect to add the books to!

  3. says

    add some hot chocolate mix and a mug to a book for a cozy night of reading.

    put a tea cup with a tea ball and samples of teas and some plain cookies for a tea drinker.

  4. Richard says

    I found a great site for stocking stuffers cheap and with free shipping after only $20. “www.minimus.biz” has travel size containers of a huge amount of stuff which make great stocking stuffers. But you’ll have to get the chocolate Santa locally!

  5. JUANITA says


  6. Susan says

    My 8-year old daughter just purchased some fun items to assemble into a “cookie kit” from the Dollar Tree. She bought a cookie sheet, a plastic mixing bowl, silicone cookie shapers, recipe cards, 3 large spoons, a spatula, & a box of Duncan Hines cookie mix – all for the grand total of $8.45! She’s planning to write a cookie recipe on one of the recipe cards & somehow tie it all up with a pretty bow (haven’t figure out the specifics on that part yet).
    Anyway, I thought that was the cutest idea for a steal! Thought I’d share.
    : )

  7. says

    When I have made these before I tried thread the first time. It kept breaking and the cats destroyed them.
    Then I used dental floss. Next time I will find the finest fishing line in the house and use that.

    I used fresh cranberries ate less of them and they were cheaper than the dried ones. They also stayed looking like fresh berries which made it more natural.

  8. Bea says

    I made the Minted Coffee Mix recipe from the cookbook last night and it is so good. I had some leftover candy canes from Christmas and was hungry for something chocolate so I made the mix and had some last night before bed and it is better than a purchased coffee mix. YUM!

  9. Sarah says

    I JUST found this site and I am IN LOVE! These are SUCH great Ideas! I have been nervous about Christmas this year and am LOVING what I’m finding!:) So happy I could cry! What a blessing this site is! THANK YOU!

  10. says

    I was very pleased to uncover this web site. I want to to thank
    you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely
    appreciated every bit of it and I have you book marked to check out new stuff in your web site.

  11. Julie says

    Our vet advised us to never let our dogs chew on socks. The elastic thread that is used to make some socks can cause intestinal blockage if ingested. Besides that one item I think your dog gift basket idea is great. Could also include a gift card and coupons for pet food.

  12. Simplesista says

    The family photo on today’s newsletter of tawra, mike and the children is absolutely lovely.Has warmed the cockles if my heart! I’ve been extremely unwell these last couple of weeks, feeling a tad down and u have cheered me up-thanks! Hi Jill, how’s u? Hope everybody had a good thanksgiving. Best wishes from the worn out and weary shores of England!xxxxx

    • says

      Oh that is so awful to be to not feel good at Christmas time. Tawra’s has had a run with all of them being sick with strep, pneumonia, and the whole works so it is amazing the picture turned out as well as it did. We had a really nice Thanksgiving. My daughter in law had everything looking so pretty and the food was to die for too. We are getting geared up for Christmas because Tawra is coming here to Kansas for it.
      I have only about 1,000 more little men (gingerbread ones) to make in the next week or so. To put it in prescriptive that is only 2,000 more eyeballs I have to put in. : ) Can I do it? Yes I can! I think I can anyway. :) Speaking of them I had better get back to the old grind. My break time is over. : )
      Hope you get to feeling better by Christmas Day. Worn out and weary but holding our own in the flat lands of Kansas. : )

  13. Melva Ferreira says

    Hi Tawra & Jill, just wanted to share that I had my Secret Santa gift exchange at work. I made a movie night gift basket. I used a popcorn container from the dollar store as my basket & filled it with candy, chocolate, cookies, popcorn packets, hot cocoa packets. I also included a Christmas movie. I then wrapped it in a cellophane bag I also got from the dollar store. It was a big success! Thanks for all the great ideas.

  14. Denise says

    Great ideas for theme baskets. They are great fundraiser ideas, too. You can use dollar stores and the 5 below store for many things as well.

  15. Christine W says

    Wednesday 12.3.2014

    I love your gift basked ideas. I think friends will really enjoy something that I put together myself, with their special interests in mind.

  16. Joanie Davis says

    What a great article! It’s so much fun to create and give personalized gift baskets. Dollar stores and thrift stores are wonderful places to find baskets, containers and large mixing bowls for designing gifts. When I was a child, I can remember several ladies stopping in to give my ill grandmother a Sunshine Box. It was simply a gift wrap covered cardboard box filled with baked goodies and small gifts. No one ever heard of gift baskets as we do now (wow, I sound really old today). I guess Sunshine boxes were a forerunner to today’s gift baskets. When I am hard pressed to present several small gift items and don’t have a basket, I cover a cardboard box with appropriate gift wrap and stuff it with tissue paper. I’ve had so many people ask me how I ever came up with that idea. I never tell them it was simply desperation. :)

  17. donnab says

    Hi Jill:

    when we do gift baskets, we usually include a jar of apple butter or jam/jelly. my daughter likes to use the 4 oz canning jars because she feels opening an 8oz jar is hard to use within the spoilage time. 4 oz jars are fantastic…and we have found that if people know you’re into canning, they will return your jars and our family members pick them up for us on their various travels, so it’s not too expensive.

    Donna B.

  18. says

    I had no idea what to give as a present to my boyfriend’s parents but now I know! I will make them one of these baskets. I am sure that they will appreciate it. Thanks for the idea!

  19. Mary Jane says

    My sister used to decorate her home with thrift store and yard sale baskets, back when dollars were especially tight. She only picked up good quality or unusual baskets, and hung them about her house. When Christmas came or any other time that she needed a great gift, she would choose one of her baskets, and carefully fill it. It took the edge off of gift giving costs, and opened up room for more great baskets that she paid no more than a dollar for. Another friend of mine, collects, displays and re-uses decorated tins. They line up the top of her cupboards, and she too, chooses from her collection to give gifts. What is really cool, is that those of us who know her, go out of our way to look for and pretty or unusual tins, and present them to her with a gift inside.

  20. Tommie says

    Sorry!!!!! I found the apple–not in the gift mix, but in the final prep. This recipe sounded so good that I didn’t want to mess it up
    When I make them.

    • says

      No problem Tommie. You could also chop up an apple – microwave for a minute or so and add to the batter before baking if you would like apple chunks in it.

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