December 05, 2008

The idea of giving a gift basket to a family member, friend, coworker, or colleague during the holidays or for any special event has always been a part of my life. My grandfather, Raymond Contri, opened a gift basket and specialty foods shop called Contri Brothers Gift Basket in Birmingham, Alabama, 41 years ago as an expansion of the family grocery business begun in 1925. Since then, the Gift Basket has remained in the family managed at some point in time by my father, uncle, mother, aunt, and cousins.

For as long as I can remember, the holidays have always revolved around "The Basket." Looking back at the time I've spent working at Contri's, I think it is pretty safe to say I've done just about all things one can possibly do to a gift basket--make, shrink wrap, drop, stock, accidentally destroy, create themes for, ship, inventory, sell, eat the contents of, deliver, and of course, give as a gift.

So, when challenged to create The Ultimate Gift Basket Guide for our Holiday Food Gifts channel, I reverted back to my high school holiday break mentality and was geared up to work on all things gift basket.

I've been fortunate to have attended many food shows and developed relationships with various companies, PR agents, and purveyors of specialty foods and food related items. Based on some of the favorites I've found, as well as some of the staffs' favorite products and recipes, I was able to create 10 different themed baskets featuring everything from Italian and wine to spices and cookie decorating. What I love most about giving a gift basket is the opportunity to be thoughtful and to find the perfect items to fit your recipient's needs.

If you have any favorite basket themes or other personalized gift ideas--please share!

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