Homemade Gift Baskets

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From: Donna

I have a great and cheap idea to share for Christmas savings. I love giving gift baskets. They’re versatile, personal, and best of all… cheap.

This year I am making a candle and potpourri basket for my sister in law. I bought a bunch of the $1 tiny jar candles from Wal Mart and Dollar General so she can test out new scents, and a big bag of potpourri on clearance for $2. ($10.00)

My best friend’s husband loves to grill, so I bought a basting brush, paper plate holders, grilling spices, and marinades. ($6.00)

And for my best friend (an Air Force wife and employee and mother of a one and a half year old), a spa basket. She always seems to be stressed out and never gets downtime. I bought a 4 piece green tea bath mix ($3) from Wal Mart, added two small candles, potpourri, a bath pouf, and a sleeping mask. ($18.00)

Needless to say, most of my ideas came from Dining on a Dime. I just switched them around a little to compliment my friends and family. I have a few more people to shop for, but so far I have not spent over $20 on any gift, and everyone is getting about 6 different items.


Dining on a Dime contains a very large section on gift baskets and jar mixes. At different times in her life, Tawra worked in floral shops and part of her job was making gift baskets, so we added that as part of the cookbook.

In addition to the large lists of ideas to use for gift baskets, Dining on a Dime includes many recipes for gifts in a jar that you can make yourself and add to the gift baskets. For example you could make an Italian basket with bread, noodles, sauce and some homemade Italian Seasoning from Dining on a Dime or make a basket with soup fixings with our Bouquet Garni Bags. If they like spicy we have a Cajun Seasoning, BBQ sauces or special mustards.

You could make up a basket with the ingredients for pumpkin pie, adding our homemade pumpkin pie spice and our recipe for pumpkin pie. And of course, there are lots of cookie mixes, muffin mixes, etc.

Besides the holidays you could give a laundry basket of cleaning supplies for newlyweds or for a housewarming gift. Make up some of our homemade cleaning supples (and of course a copy of Dining on a Dime :) or use a cute container to help stock the couple with spices and seasonings, filling it with cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder etc. and adding homemade seasoned salt or taco seasoning from the book.

Dining On A Dime also includes recipes for hot chocolate, flavored coffee and spiced tea mixes, kids things like Easy Bake Oven mixes, play dough and slime. There are potpourri and sachets recipes. Homemade ornaments.

These and many more ideas are included in Dining on a Dime. Hopefully these get you started!


photo by: merelymel


  1. connie S says

    My teenage daughter just lost her job and is worried about getting gifts for her MANY friends. Well…. we were at the Jewel food store ( we are in Illinois) and they had fleece blankets (size is about 4X6) for 1.99 (this sale is until Dec 27th) she bought 2 for each friend (to tye together) then she is going to include a bag of microwave popcorn and a hot chocolate mix with each gift. She’ll add a note about having a cozy Christmas. These should run about $5.00 or a little less and it is such a cute idea.

  2. Cerrin says

    Last year I gave my friends a popcorn basket. Bowls at Walmart 4 different sizes for 3.99 for all 4 bottles to hold the oils .99 each and salt shakers .50 each Bought the popcorn at Sam’s Club for like $20 big bottle of oil for $10 and salt for $8 I made up like 15 or more baskets with all this plus some left over. Each basket was less then $10 I made great cards telling people how to pop popcorn on the stove. They all loved it.

  3. says

    I live in a small town off the beaten track in Canada.
    Our prices are more than in the states for lots of things so for making baskets being in a small town it is also harder to find small things to do so.
    Yesterday at the grocery store I saw really neat bags of mixes for cookies and bar cookies. They were $4. a bag so with a few add ins of tea and maybe a cute mug the baskets made up would run me about $6. a basket. I collected mugs for years as the boys gave them to me for inexpensive gifts but with over 250 I can raid them to add to the basket.
    I am not a baker so it would cost me more to go out and buy the ingredients so the bags will be a great money saver and time saver.
    They also have about 6 new spice mixes which sound good so they could be another basket ingredient.
    Another gift idea was a fancy bottle with scented oils and then a few sticks of some sort that you stuck into the bottle to get the scent into the air. I like the idea for one friend who sprays and has scented candles all the time that cause my husband to have to use his inhaler so maybe with the oil scents he could visit with them more comfortably. The scents were more food ideas. vanilla cinnamon which always smell nice.
    Check out different types of stores if not for the gift itself but a lot of different ideas that you can customize to you and your friends.

  4. Donna B. says

    Also for a gift basket, I like to use inexpensive canvas totes (or the reusable grocery carry bags) you can get them at AC Moore or other craft stores pretty inexpensively. If you get a plain color, you can do an applique of a poinsettia or other Xmas motif with very little fabric, or an ink stamp. I like to do a basket that has cookie mix, quick bread mix, coffee, hot choc, and other practical items for the kitchen, new dish towel, grocery list pads, etc. I am on the look-out all year for inexpensive pot holders, dish towels, tealights, etc. I start buying cookie mix, etc. in October when on sale to stock my basket or bag. Tie it up in the shrinkwrap cellopance and they look really professional.

    This year in a thrift shop I found two beautiful Lenox Christmas mugs for .75 each, and will fill with tea bags, or Hershey’s Kisses in the Christmas colors. If you plan ahead, these can be very inexpensive but beautifully presented gifts.

    the mixes in Dining on a Dime would cut the cost of these even further. I especially love the spiced tea mix, and had lost my recipe. Found it again in Dining on a Dime!

    Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to you all!

  5. Lois says

    Grandma, for the reed oil infuser air freshener “wicks”, try using bamboo skewers with the points cut off and cut to size. I did that with some bath oil I had, and it worked fine.

  6. Dawn-Michele says

    I did gift baskets this year, I got baskets at auctions and thrift stores… less then a dollar a piece. I made soap, not the melt and pour, but real lye and fats… old fashioned soap, not expensive at all to make. I also made soy candles and italian herbed EVOO, got the big container and made up lots using herbs in my garden so it was not too expensive either. They were loved by all my friends and some really special friends got some canned goodies from my surplus…. if you don’t have a garden use a pick your own farmer to keep those expenses down..I live in the city so I do that every year!

    • says

      Love the old fashioned lye soap. Tawra made it for years and it was about all we used. She has been having trouble finding lye now because they don’t sell it like they use to but she thinks she has found someplace now so hopefully we will be getting more lye soap.

  7. rose says

    like i had mentioned in another post, for next yr’s xmas i am making homemade gift baskets .. i know the yr isnt over yet and i am already thinking of next yr but i like to buy for all my family and i always start in jan .. (just getting idea’s for now) ..
    so far, i have come up with the idea of the fleece blankets you can tie, an apron (the chinese restaurant that i normally go to, the girls wear the cutest aprons and they told me where to buy them, at 89 cents each that is a steal!), pot holders, bath salts (homemade, i have a generic recipe that i will share soon) envelopes of popcorn, a thing of candy (maybe get a pkg of those 6 hershey bars and each one gets a candy bar) and a yarn pet …
    and for the basket? my friend taught me how to make baskets out of paper bags .. just add the ribbon ..
    i figure my theme would be: warm, cozy and cuddly (cuddly bc if they need a hug then they can hug the yarn dog.. hehehehee 😀 ) …
    my son in law said if i didnt make the yarn dogs, i could always go to the goodwill and get stuffed animals with tags on them really cheap .. and my son said he would try to get those animals out of those claw machines (which he is very good at) .. so not sure about the cuddly part of the gift .. but the other stuff i definitely want to put together …
    i love this website .. so many great ideas ..
    thanks so much for everything …

  8. LAM says

    And don’t forget you if you are using paper bags to wrap or put your gifts in you can use stamp art to decorate the outside of them! It makes them more personal and fun!.

    • says

      No you don’t need anything special at all and she never once worried about fumes and she had babies in the house at the time too. You do need to use a glass bowl and a wooden spoon because the stuff reacts to aluminum. But there was no biggy to worry about in making it.

  9. Bea says

    Thanks Jill. I love homemade lye soap because it uses such nice oils and essential oils etc. I have bought some at farmers markets and from people I have met that make soap, and always loved that kind of soap. When I read up about it in books and online they make it seem like you need a “space suit” or something, or else you will drop dead from the fumes. I know that you and Tawra are very realistic and level headed, so I knew you would advise me rightly. I guess some people need to have all those warnings or they would do something foolish and hurt someone. I guess if you use common sense and are careful you will be alright. Thanks again.

    • says

      That’s about what it boils down too Bea. People now have to be careful in the extreme when they give instructions on things too because if you even do something like explain how to knit if the person pokes themselves with a knitting needle they can sue you too. It is so sad and crazy.

  10. Erin says

    I have recently purchased Living on A Dime and am very inspired by the gift basket ideas. I have a friend at work whose wife was just diagnosed with cancer. This couple is also a part of our church, but they are having a hard time asking for support from church folks. I am one of the only ones from church that knows. Anyway, I was inspired that maybe I could take a gift basket over to her. The news is very new and she’s not started any treatments or anything. Does anyone have any suggestions for what to put in the gift basket? I was looking through all the recipes for mixes and the sort. I’m just having a hard time being creative. I like the suggestions for the get well basket, but I need something I little more geared towards cancer. Any cancer survivors out there that would know just the perfect thing for her at this time? Thanks so much for any help!

    • says

      I’m not a cancer survivor but I do know what I received when I was seriously ill that really helped me. A small pot with colorful flowers, lotion (taking medicines and treatments can be drying to the sick), an inspirational CD or some kind of music (the one I received the lady gave me an old copy of hers and even though it was used I still appreciated it), when you are sick the last thing you feel is pretty so something like nice smelling bubble bath, nail polish. A cute mug with a funny saying, pretty pillow case for days having to be in bed or cute warm pair of socks. A cute box or container which can be set on a night stand with small packages of tissues, lip balm, lotion, hand sanitizer, not pad and pencil, devotional or book.

      For more practical every day things fill a basket with very simple food. When you are very sick you have little appetite so it is hard to even think about what to eat let alone cook something so when sending food or meals make them so there is little or no fixing or cooking needed. For example it is better to send already made cookies that can be stored in pantry or freezer then a jar of cookie mix. Things like paper plates, paper bowls and cups to help the whole family with cleaning up after meals.

      These are just a few things to get started.

      • Erin says

        Perfect! Thank you so much for your ideas. It’s hard to know what someone would benefit from when you haven’t been there yourself. I like the music idea. Someone sent me a CD when I was first diagnosed with diabetes, and looking back I remember I just laid in my room and listened to it and it helped kind of take my focus off the worries and demands of my new health regimen.

    • Sheri says

      If your friend who is a cancer survivor lost hair with chemotherapy treatments, pretty hats and scarves are nice too. Make sure they are soft, no wool or itchy yarns or fabrics.

  11. Denise Stathatos says

    Each year our church has a Fall Festival and we have a theme basket raffle. I will need to review these ideas to present to the committee. I will also start thinking of things to purchase for donating to the raffle.

  12. Mary Jane says

    For two separate ladies who had cancer (one my age, and another old enough to be my mother) I gave the following gifts: a handmade prayer shawl (really, a wide, long scarf in a cuddly yarn and pretty colour), and a gift of money, which the lady promptly used to buy herself a warm cardigan. Based on the responses to those two gifts, I guess that I would add a small, but cozy clothing item to a basket for a cancer patient. Maybe a pretty hat,scarf (silky or wool), a soft pair of fleecy socks or some inexpensive, but cozy slippers.


  1. […] Homemade Gift Baskets | How to save money and get out of debt … In addition to the large lists of ideas to use for gift baskets Dining on a Dime includes many recipes for gifts in a jar that you can make yourself and add to the gift baskets For example you could make an Italian basket with bread, […]

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