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Making Fruit Gift Baskets

Make Your Own Gifts of Food by Filling Baskets with Seasonal Fruit

Admit it: Your gift budget is low this year. You want to come up with an imaginative yet inexpensive Christmas gift to bring to the hosts of the many holiday parties you’re invited to.

The stores are crowded. Everyone else will probably bring one of those bargain giant tin tubs of popcorn sold in Staples or Costco. You want to bring a beautiful gift that will make a big impression but not cost you a lot of money.

The answer is simple: Put together a Christmas fruit basket.

Fruit baskets are among the most popular gifts you can give from food websites. Indeed, the many you’ll find on the Internet provide and ship for you truly outstanding fruit gift baskets. But some folks may find the prices too steep for more than the most extravagant gifts.

Meanwhile, you’ll find all the ingredients you need for your own homemade fruit gift baskets in the local supermarket or farmers’ market, with maybe a stop at a crafts, housewares, or cookware store. Nothing will cost you much, but everything will make an impression much greater than the sum of the parts.

Here’s all you need to do:

Choose baskets. Some larger supermarkets might have them in their housewares aisles. Or look in crafts stores or bargain import stores like Pier One. Choose interesting shapes and sizes that will be roomy enough for a good assortment of items.

Line them with dishtowels. Your supermarket might have them, too. Or go to a cookware store. Buy brightly colored, good-quality dishtowels that will look good with the baskets you chose. Use one or more to line each basket, decoratively overlapping them over the basket’s edges.

Add fresh seasonal fruit. The supermarket or farmer’s market is your choice here. Look for the best of the season:

  • Citrus fruit. Winter’s most beautiful citrus fruit, the tangerine in all its forms–mandarins, Clementines, satsumas, and so on–makes the biggest impression. Buy them in abundance, looking for those that still have tiny stems and leaves attached for a touch of pretty greenery. If blood oranges are available, add a few of them, too.
  • Apples. Good widely available varieties include Red Delicious, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, and McIntosh; but look for other, lesser-known types in your area. Choose smaller apples that will fit better among the other ingredients, and go for those with the brightest colors.
  • Pears. Good widely available choices include Yellow or Red Bartlett, Red Anjou, and Comice; but perhaps the best fits for a basket are smaller pear varieties like Seckel and Forelle. Choose pears that are fairly firm, so they have time to ripen.
  • Pomegranates. Add one or two at the center of a larger basket as an impressive, exotic centerpiece, if you like. Pomegranates are becoming ever more popular these days because of their health-promoting high levels of antioxidants.
  • Red or purple grapes. Here and there, add small clusters of seedless red or purple grapes, so sweet and delicious at this time of year. Be sure to pick through the grapes to remove any shriveled or moldy ones, and rinse and dry them well before adding.
  • Nuts. If you like, fill in any gaps among the fruits with nuts in their shells, particularly walnuts, pecans, and almonds. If you include them, also add a nutcracker to the basket.

Decorate with bows or ribbons. No need to wrap the basket; it’s beautiful already. But tie or stick a pretty bow or ribbon to the handle, if it has one, or to the edge of the basket.

There you have it: A fruit basket ready to give as one of the easiest, most beautiful, most appreciated, and most inexpensive holiday gifts ever! You might also want to think about making other kinds of food baskets for lovers of gourmet foods on your gift lists.