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Diet & Nutrition

Basket Case

DIY holiday gift collections that blend food and beauty

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Say what you will about gift baskets, but the truth is, most people love them-assuming the contents are well-chosen. But few include natural or organic items, and they can come across as impersonal to the receiver. But that’s not true when you make your own. Choose a collection of all-natural goodies, package them in novel containers, and include a variety of fun items.

To get you started, we’ve assembled a few ideas of our own. Personalize one of these basic baskets for your recipient and your budget, or just let them spur your imagination. And if you just don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to BYOB, check out for a collection of natural and organic gift boxes and baskets, all in eco-friendly packaging.

Flower lovers. Better than a poinsettia: fill an oversized glass vase, ceramic flowerpot, or a tin watering can with packets of organic seeds, Numi Organic Teain Jasmine Green, rose petal jam, JĀSÖNChamomile Satin Shower Body Wash, a floral candle, orange blossom water, a bouquet of flower-scented hand creams (try Nature’s Gate hand creams in Orchid, Rose, or Cherry Blossom), and, of course, a bouquet of fresh flowers, all tied up with a silk ribbon.

Wine and cheese lovers. The ideal selection for someone who loves to entertain. Layer a wooden crate with straw, and fill it with a couple of bottles of wine (or alcohol-free alternatives by Vin Santé or12 Noon to Midnight). Add wine glasses, a wooden cutting board, a cheese knife, crackers
(try Lesley Stowe’s Fig and Olive Raincoast Crisps), Marcona almonds, and high-quality cheeses (Fromager d’Affinois or cave-aged Emmentaler make good options).

Chocoholics. Everyone’s favorite! Include chocolate-covered coffee beans, Lake Champlain ChocolatesAztec Spicy Hot Chocolate, Republic of Tea Red Velvet Chocolate Tea, a SunspireCoconut bar with dark chocolate, and a handful of Sun Cups (try Caramel, Peppermint, and Sunflower Butter flavors). Add a jar of Aura Cacia Organic Cocoa Butter, and package everything in a heart-shaped box lined with a silk scarf.

Holiday scents. Keep the smells of the holidays alive long after the season has passed. Fill a Christmas stocking with JĀSÖN Moisturizing Frosted Plum and Revitalizing Orange Clove Gift Sets; Alba Botanica Spiced Hot Toddy Shower Gel and Body Lotion gift set; Avalon Organics Peppermint Revitalizing Shampoo and Conditioner; and Hugo Naturals Holiday Handcrafted Soaps in a variety of seasonal shapes and scents.

Beach getaway. Perfect for pals who spend their holidays in sunnier climes. Layer an beach towel inside a canvas bag or straw beach tote, and fill with sunscreen, after-sun lotion (tryAlba BotanicaKona Coffee After-Sun Lotion), aloe vera to cool burns (Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gelly is nice and thick-and stays put), a metal water bottle, flip-flops, a collection of magazines hand-picked for the recipient, and a pair of fun sunglasses.

Kid stuff. Children love gift baskets, but rarely receive them. Start with a puzzle or toy from Melissa & Doug, and add kid-friendly, healthy treats such as pistachios, tangerines, Organic ValleyStringles Organic String Cheese, Stretch Island Fruit Co. All-Natural Fruit Strips, and Dr. Sears Cool Fuel bars. Tuck in several cupcake-shaped fizzy bath bombs byHugo Naturals in yummy holiday “flavors” (see p. 26 of this issue for more details).

Spa retreat. For an easy afternoon escape from the holiday rush, assemble a nice collection of scented candles (try Hugo NaturalsVanilla & Sweet Orange Hand-Poured Candle), a loofah sponge and pumice stone, calming tea, and a selection of body pampering goodies such as Pangea Organics body oils,Lily Organics Seaweed Balancing Facial Cleanser, and Aubrey Organics Toasted Almond Crème de la Shave. Wrap it all up in a plush towel tied with a silk ribbon.

Chef’s special. For the budding or well-seasoned foodie: fill a enamel Dutch oven or wooden salad bowl with a collection of spices and specialty items such as truffle oil, pomegranate molasses, Alessi White Balsamic Vinegar, harissa, Dalamita Fig Spread, vanilla beans, Delallo Lemon-Flavored Dipping Oil, and other goodies. Tuck in a few wooden spoons and an oven mitt, and tie
with kitchen twine.