Gift baskets and 'care kits' are a joy for me to make. I'm always the person who will find a great present for someone, and afterwards find a few more items that would compliment the present extremely well. This used to be a habit of 'overspending' on Christmas and birthdays, because I always tend to start shopping early. As of late, I had changed those habits slightly to curb my overspending by starting with a main gift, and purchasing smaller gifts themed around it. Find a decorative storage basket, bin or bucket, purchase some cellophane to wrap it all together, and you have a fantastic little package full of neat little toys, tidbits, trinkets and treasures!
So, for a great wedding present for Megan and Mike, two very good friends of mine who were married in April 2009, I had constructed (with Nick's help!) the Zen Dinner for Two Gift Basket, with all the flatware and servingware a couple will need for a relaxing dinner at home!
The 'Zen' theme came to me as an idea from a Zen rock garden Nick's mum, Jacquie, had given me for Christmas last year. I had found serving and cookware line called Pao (found in your local department store) and picked up a sushi knife, serving tongs and noodle server to start, all made of bamboo wood (well, the knife had a bamboo handle). I started to find other kitchen stuff that were sensible and went very well with my theme; a bamboo cutting/serving board, chopsticks and candles, of course. As I was hashing out the details of the basket, I thought to myself, "What a better gift than the gift of romance!" I would love to get something like this on my wedding day! This basket was a lot of fun to make for them, and I'm really happy they're enjoying it now!
The flatware was purchased from Dollarama. Cost efficiency dictated it, especially if I got the paint detail wrong. Nope, first try! It did help with a stencil, though. I had made a bamboo stencil cut out of cardstock and used acrylic paints on the plates and bowls. I then sprayed a non-toxic sealant over the paint when it was dry to make sure it doesn't come off when the dishes are washed. I then used the stencil on the placemats and coasters in greens and browns.
I found some really awesome silverware with bamboo detail on the handle. I had then found another set with bamboo handles. I bought a two sets for each, again found at Dollarama! I also had this wood box, free for another project. The silverware fit perfectly on the inside, so I had used the bamboo stencil and painted the outside. Nick later added 'grass leaves' on the bottom, all tied together with some twine.
The glassware had also come from Dollarama, once again for cost efficiency, just in case I mess up the paint detail. I guess the plates gave me good practice, because these turned out fantastic! I had painted a white bamboo stalk using the stencil on the side of the glass - just one! (Sometimes less is more!) The candles I had purchased were in glass votives, and the lip sat perfectly along the edge of the glass. A drinking glass with a dual purpose! I hadn't painted anything on the wine glasses, instead opting to wind the stem with the same twine used to pack the basket. I then added river rocks from my own personal collection and aquarium pebbles inside the glasses. Two reasons - although they're rocks, they'll keep the glasses from chipping or breaking on transport (like foam peanuts), and for the aesthetics.
I arranged everything in a multi-purpose basket Nick found in Zellers, made out of recycled Asian newspapers (we think it's Korean). I made some origami cranes of different colours, placed them about the basket and among the decorative green bamboo stalks, and wrapped the whole thing in a cute patterned cellophane. I made a note card for the basket and listed everything included.
The result was a success! I had asked Karen and Curtis (friends since high school, and Karen is Megan's sister) to take the basket for me to the wedding, as they were leaving earlier. I didn't get a chance to take a photograph of the basket all pretty with the cellophane on the gift table. That's alright - Megan and Mike had said it was their favourite present, especially because Nick and I had made it ourselves.
The basket, all its contents, materials and gift wrap came to a accumulative amount of about $65, which was a score, being on a budget and all. It probably took me about a week or so to finish the basket. Work well worth it for a beautiful couple! Take a look at some pictures from the wedding!
So, for your awesomely unique friends, like my good friends here, consider the handmade option and give a gift you've put all your love into! I hope this gift basket gives you lots more ideas for alternative options on gift giving!
Photography credit: Cassandra Watsham