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A few years ago I sent a gift basket to my parents out of pure necessity (the actual occasion/holiday long forgotten). Both they and I have been on this earth for a while, and, well, I had finally run out of gift ideas.
I originally thought gift baskets were the last resort of the uncreative. Random food and gifts in an awkward throwaway container that was seemingly twice the price of buying each item separately? No thanks. I wanted something more personal.
To my surprise, my parents loved the gift. And that, thankfully, provided me with a lifeline for future gift purchases, which now (outside of Christmas) almost exclusively consist of gift baskets.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks this way. As The Hustle reported this week, 1-800-FLOWERS, Inc. — the owner of Harry & David along with over a dozen other brands — no longer gets the majority of its revenue from flowers, but “food and gift baskets” (and one of their fastest growing segments is succulents).
Since most of my gift money has gone toward Harry & David, I decided to ask someone from that long-running (started in 1934) gourmet gift site about my initial misgivings and current love affair with gift-filled hampers.
Below, some thoughts with Greg Sarley, the SVP of Merchandising at Harry & David, plus, five other options if they are not your preferred vendor. And yes, there’s still time to send a gift basket for Mother’s Day.
InsideHook: One reason people can be hesitant on gift baskets is that they may see them as impersonal. Is there a way to make a gift basket seem more personal to the giftee?
Greg Sarley: For us, we’ve developed a broad assortment of gifts that offer sentiments such as “You Rock,” “Thinking of You,” and “Thank You,” which come printed on the gift or as a hangtag or insert. We also offer customization options as customers look to put their own stamp on the gift. These options include custom gift cards and baskets where you can add a name that we embroider onto a liner.
We also make it easy to add-on a personalized greeting card or products such as a bottle of wine, truffles and popcorn to a wide variety of our gift baskets.
Additionally, we have gift options that can be tailored based on the interest of the recipient; examples include the Chest of Chocolates for those confectionery devotees, for coffee aficionados we have a Coffee Gift Basket and our Deluxe Signature Cookie Basket for cookie enthusiasts. [Editor’s note: Not all of these options are available in time for Mother’s Day delivery.]
How far ahead should you order a gift basket for a major event like Mother’s Day?
We encourage gift-givers to place their gift basket orders early and to schedule early delivery as well. This year we’re seeing people place orders earlier than ever. With the increase in demand we’ve seen for recent holidays, we’re asking our customers to not only order early, but also be flexible with choosing earlier delivery dates. For instance, they can choose to have their gift arrive between Wednesday and Sunday rather than on Sunday, May 9.
What’s the biggest mistake or thing people overlook when ordering gift baskets?
Understanding how much product is in the basket. Making sure you review the net weight and all the basket contents before ordering is an important step in ensuring you get exactly what you want. Additionally, you want to make sure that you pick the right size gift basket, depending on whether you are sending it to an individual, a couple or a family.
When ordering for something like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, do you have any specific recommendations?
Spend some time thinking of the things that your mom or dad likes — or a trending flavor, or a new indulgence that you’d like them to try. Show them that you took the time to really consider what they might enjoy.
Some top selling gifts for Mother’s Day [note: some currently unavailable] include our Deluxe Mother’s Day Basket with Wine which comes with peanut butter pretzels, raspberry cookie bars, lemon shortbread cookies and Moose Munch Premium Popcorn, chocolate covered pretzels and more; our Tower of Treats Classic Mother’s Day Gift, which includes chocolate truffles, dark chocolate-covered graham crackers and Royal Verano Pears; and our Mother’s Day Apple Blossom Amaryllis Gift which comes with two pre-planted Apple Blossom amaryllis bulbs.
This isn’t to suggest Harry & David is your only option. Below, five other companies that offer worthy gift baskets:
- Goldbelly: Your favorite local restaurant staples (e.g., shrimp and grits from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans) delivered anywhere.
- Mouth: Foodie gift sets with an emphasis on small-batch American makers.
- Williams Sonoma: Good-looking hampers filled with chocolates, cheese and even ingredients to make beer or gin. Order by Thursday for Mother’s Day.
- Olympia Provisions: Who doesn’t love charcuterie and assorted meats?
- Knack: If customization and values are important to you, this gift merchant can provide you with something unique (and not just food-related).
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