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Out of 24 gift baskets, we found the 10 worth spending your money on.
If you’re unsure what to get someone for a special occasion, whether it’s a birthday or holiday, a great go-to is a gift basket. Gift baskets offer a variety of products instead of just one, and require little effort on the part of the gift giver, making them a great option for people who want to put something special together for their loved ones but don’t have enough time to create a gift basket from scratch.
Michael Benevides, Vice President of Portugalia Marketplace, says there are certain factors you should consider before you decide on a gift basket. “[This includes] the recipient’s interests and taste, the theme (e.g., should the food be sweet, savory, or both?), the quantity of products (e.g., a basket with few higher-priced items or one with many less expensive ones?), whether there will be perishable offerings, and how the gift will look when the recipient opens it,” he says.
To help you weed through the many gift basket options on the market, we also talked to gifting experts Cristina Flores, Vice President of Product at Eataly North America, and Kristin Fisher, founder of Bocu, and tested 24 different gift baskets, evaluating them on selection, quality, and overall value.
Read on to learn about our top picks and how to choose the best gift basket for that special someone, or group of people, in your life.
Cheryl's Cookies Classic Assortment Bow Gift Box
Best Cookie Gift Basket
Who it’s for: People who want to get a gift basket to share with a large group of people.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a cookie basket with greater flavor variety.
If you’re looking to get a gift basket to share with a large group of people, such as family or co-workers, our testers think this one from Cheryl’s Cookies is a great option. The gift basket we tested contained 72 cookies and five flavors, which most of our testers thought was a great value for the price tag. For this price point, you get 16 chocolate chip cookies, 16 oatmeal raisin cookies, 16 frosted classic cut-out cookies, 12 sugar cookies, and 12 chocolate obsession cookies.
Most of our testers were pleased with the taste, with one telling us that the cookies were “soft, easy to break and chew,” while another was impressed with how flavorful they were, especially considering they were sitting in the freezer for two weeks and just taken out for the test.
Another thing that our testers liked was the presentation: Each of the cookies are wrapped, creating an individualized experience for each recipient. Some of our testers said they wished there was a little more variety in terms of flavor, while some others said that the cookies were too sweet for them, or had an artificial type of flavor. Still, if you’re looking for cookies, this basket can’t be beat.
Price at time of publish: From $30
Shipping: From $11
Number of Items: 12, 24, 36, 72, 100, or 200 cookies
Harry & David Signature Bakery Tray
Best Baked Goods Gift Basket
Who it’s for: People who want a gift basket that contains different types of baked goods.
Who it isn’t for: People who want more of a variety beyond cakes and cookies.
Sweet tooths will relish in the variety of baked goods this gift basket contains. The Harry & David Bakery Tray is a smorgasbord of desserts, including a number of cookies, ranging from lemon shortbread to walnut chocolate chunk, and cakes, such as an apple streusel loaf cake and a whole lemon poppyseed coffee cake. There are also raspberry galettes, baklava, cinnamon swirl, and more. All of our testers liked the variety of baked goods offered, with multiple people telling us that there is truly something for everyone in this basket.
Opinions on taste were mixed, with some testers noting that the baked goods were dry. However, considering that we had to freeze and unthaw the baked goods, this isn’t unexpected. Regardless, our testers said that the value of this basket is worthwhile, with one noting that getting this will save you so much time having to bake it all yourself. The Harry & David Bakery Tray comes with 17 total items and a beautiful pine wood tray to display the baked goods to its recipients.
Price at time of publish: $100
Shipping: From $21
Number of Items: 17 baked goods plus a tray
Murray's Cheese Greatest Hits Gift Box
Best Cheese Gift Basket
Who it’s for: Cheese lovers who want a cheese basket that comes with complementary foods as well.
Who it isn’t for: People who want more than four cheese options in their cheese gift basket.
All of our testers loved the cheese included in this Murray’s Cheese basket. One tester told us that the “quality of the cheese is fantastic,” while another said “the freshness was stellar. I could have eaten the whole thing.” Others liked the variety of cheeses as well as the large portions. With this gift basket, you get a block of English cheddar, a mini brie, cave aged gruyere, a young manchego, and other snacks to go with the cheese, including sea salt and olive crackers, marcona almonds, and spiced cherry preserves. A couple of our testers really liked the spiced cherry preserves, with one telling us that they haven’t seen anything like it in the grocery store before.
Some testers did feel like more could have been added to the basket, such as charcuterie or even a bottle of wine. “I feel like you're paying for the Murray's name a bit,” they said. “But if you know the recipient is a cheese lover, then this could be worth the splurge.”
Price at time of publish: $108
Shipping: From $7
Number of Items: 7
Olive & Cocoa Italian Market Snacks Crate
Best Charcuterie Gift Basket
Who it’s for: People who want their gift basket to come with a tote bag for easier transport.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a charcuterie board with more meat options.
The various snacks available in this gift basket, along with the included tote bag, make this assortment great to take with you on a picnic with loved ones. Olive & Cocoa’s Italian Market Snacks Crate contains eight items, including a bag of mixed nuts, a bag of sea salt caramels, a jar of basil pesto, a jar of sun-dried tomato bruschetta spread, a box of rustic crackers, one artisanal salami, and farmhouse cheese, all of which are boxed up in a nice wooden crate with a ribbon.
Most were pleased with the variety of snacks but split on the taste. One of our testers told us that “everything tasted high quality,” while a couple others liked how fresh the items were. However, there were some who weren’t pleased with some of the offerings, such as the cheese and the quality of the salami. But as one of our testers pointed out, this gift basket would be a great treat for someone who doesn’t have this kind of food often.
Price at time of publish: $98
Shipping: From $26
Number of Items: 7 plus crate
Gourmet Gift Baskets The Ultimate Beer Gift Crate
Best Beer Gift Basket
Who it’s for: People who want a beer gift basket with snacks included.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a beer gift basket that contains fewer IPAs.
Instead of getting the beer lover in your life a six pack, splurge on this super cool beer gift crate from Gourmet Gift Baskets. The crate contains four 16-ounce premium beers, Battle Axe IPA by Kelsen, Boom Sauce by Lord Hobo, Ishmael Copper Ale by Rising Tide, and Blood Orange Wheat by Jack’s Abby, as well as snacks including seasoned beef jerky, water crackers, garlic sausage, and jalapeno Monterey jack cheese.
Our testers were mixed on the offerings in this box, although they were keen to point out that everyone has different tastes when it comes to beer. Many of our testers said that they would have liked to see more variety in the beer, saying the box leaned too much on IPAs. One tester said that as someone living in the Midwest, they liked trying out East Coast beers present in this basket, which they think would also be appealing to people receiving this box. Most of them were pleased with the snack offerings, calling the items fresh. Just note that this box cannot be shipped to Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah, or Washington.
Price at time of publish: $85
Shipping: From $6
Number of Items: 8 plus crate
Wicked Good Cupcakes 6-Pack & Rosé + Moscato Gift Set
Best Wine Gift Basket
Who it’s for: People who like dessert wines.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a wine gift basket with red wine.
Our testers had great things to say about this cupcake-wine combo gift basket. The majority of our testers loved the taste of the cupcakes and appreciated that the gift basket looks exactly as it does advertised on the site. “The quality of the cupcake jars was like eating a freshly baked cupcake,” one tester told us, while another said “the balance of flavors in each cupcake jar was spot on.” One of our testers loved the frosting so much they told us they wished they knew the recipe so they could make it themselves whenever they wanted to at home.
Each gift basket comes with three red velvet and three chocolate ganache cupcake jars, with each jar equivalent to two cupcakes. One thing our testers did wish was different about the cupcakes was that there was more flavor variety.
Our testers were mixed on the wine options, which included a moscato California sparkling wine and a California rosé from Ilo. One tester liked that the wines lacked sweetness, which they felt complemented the cupcakes well, while another tester found the Ilo Moscato to be sweet. We also had one tester who found the wine to be too dry. So the quality, we figured, really comes down to personal taste. Because this is a wine gift, it cannot be shipped to Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Dakota, or Utah.
Price at time of publish: $100
Shipping: Free or $5 depending on location
Number of Items: 8
Recchiuti Confections Burgundy Box
Best Chocolate Gift Basket
Who it’s for: People who want to splurge on premium chocolates as a gift.
Who it isn’t for: People allergic to soy, milk, and tree nuts.
One of the best foodie gifts you can get someone is an assortment of fine chocolates. This popular gift basket from Recchiuti Confections contains a delectable selection of chocolates, and according to our testers lives up to its consistent five-star rating. “The variety was fabulous, the value was exceptional, and the presentation was perfect,” said one of our testers. The Burgundy Box contains three tiers of chocolates that total 32 pieces. Flavors include brand signatures such as Burnt Caramel and Cardamom Nougat, as well some pates de fruits. One of our testers told us that “all pieces tasted above expectations,” while another said the ganache centers were “creamy and smooth” and compared the taste of the caramel to “liquid gold.”
In addition to their great taste, these chocolates are also pretty to look at. Some morsels contain embossed tops, glittery gold dusting, and chocolate swirls, among others. Overall, our testers agreed that what you get for the price is great, with one saying they were surprised the gift basket didn’t cost more than it did. A couple of our testers did remark that this mostly contains dark chocolate, so it may not be an appealing gift for people who prefer milk chocolate.
Price at time of publish: $92
Shipping: From $20
Number of Items: 32
Bonnie & Pop Dried Fruit and Nut Basket
Best Dried Fruit Gift Basket
Who it’s for: People who want a vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free food gift basket.
Who it isn’t for: People who would like a drink to come with their gift basket.
The Bonnie & Pop Dried Fruit and Nut Basket comes with more than three pounds of snacks, including dried mango slices, Mediterranean apricots, California yellow peaches, pears, Washington apple wedges, kiwi slices, California dates, plums, sweet prunes, tamari almonds, and cashews. The package also comes with an incredibly unique serving tray in the shape of an apple, which can be used to lay snacks flat or freestanding by converting it into a basket.
Our testers loved the apple trivet/basket, saying this feature is what makes the package so giftable overall. Many also appreciated the fact that what you see online is what you get in person. In terms of taste, our testers were mixed. Most liked the taste of the fruit, with one tester telling us that “they were very fresh for dried fruit,” while another said “the fruits were fresh, sweet, and kept me wanting more.” Another tester found that overall the offerings were too sweet. No one had any issues with the nuts though, with many saying they complemented the sweetness of the fruit nicely.
Price at time of publish: $60
Number of Items: Not listed
Pearl River Mart Snack Attack Friendship Box: Surprise Edition
Best Snack Gift Basket
Who it’s for: People who want a variety of fun snacks with a surprise element.
Who it isn’t for: People who want to know exactly what they are getting in a gift basket.
This unique gift basket from Pearl River Mart combines some of the tastiest sweet and savory Asian treats you can get at the grocery store. Unlike other gift baskets where you know exactly what you get, this one is a complete surprise. You could get wasabi peas or an assortment of Hi-Chews, or Taro chips and Pocky. Our testers loved the variety of the snacks that they got, with one telling us that the snacks were “a good sampling of sweet, spicy, fruity, and salty.” They also liked how fresh the snacks tasted as well as the size, with a couple testers saying that the snacks were big enough to share with multiple people.
Another standout of this gift box is the price, which is considerably lower than many of the other gift baskets we tested. Considering what you get, our testers found the value to be excellent. One of our testers felt this would be great to give at a gift exchange. One tester was so happy with the product that they recommended not waiting for an occasion to get this for someone you love.
Price at time of publish: $40
Shipping: Depends on location
Number of Items: Not listed
Mochidoki Mochi Ice Cream
Best Ice Cream Gift Basket
Who it’s for: People who love mochi and want the opportunity to sample a variety of flavors.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a gift basket with a low shipping cost.
Mochi lovers will be thrilled by this carefully curated assortment of the famous Japanese dessert. This gift basket contains eight of Mochidoki’s best-selling flavors, including classic flavors like matcha, black sesame, and purple sweet potato as well as common American-loved flavors such as cake batter, vanilla chip, and strawberry. What’s great about this box is that you get to have four pieces of each flavor, giving you 32 pieces of mochi to taste test and savor.
When our testers tried out the Mochidoki Best Sellers Collection, they were collectively pleased with the offerings in the basket and the delectable flavors. “The quality was spot-on,” said one of our testers. “The shell was squishy and the ice cream super creamy. The items look exactly like the picture.” They also liked that the mochi arrived with no freezer burn, and despite spending time in transit, managed to taste fresh, according to one of our testers. “I really enjoyed the flavors, which were subtle yet pleasant, and not overly sweet,” they said. One thing our tester wished was different was the shipping price, which cost about $30 to ship to our Lab in Iowa. Keep this in mind before you buy.
Price at time of publish: $96
Shipping: From $10; Free shipping is available it but depends on your location and the minimum price of the order (between $100-$200).
Number of Items: 32
Our Testing Process
We tested 24 different gift baskets and evaluated them on the selection of goods, freshness and quality of the products, and overall value of the basket. We had our testers taste each of the products that came with the gift baskets, and asked them to give feedback on the variety, including if the food items complemented each other and if they would add or get rid of anything included in the basket.
We also asked them to describe the quality of each item, noting any staleness or off tastes, and whether the basket looked as it does on the brand’s website. After they sampled everything that the baskets had to offer, we asked them if the price was justified for what they got. We used all of this information to come up with the best gift baskets.
How to Shop for Gift Baskets Like a Pro
According to Benevides and Flores, knowing your recipient (or recipients’) interests is of the utmost importance. “The most important factor in selecting a gift basket for someone or a group of people is to know your audience!” says Flores. “For example, do they lean sweet or savory? Are they adventurous eaters or is crowd-pleasing a safer bet? Does this person/group like to cook, or do they prefer to simply open a package/jar and enjoy? Finding the right balance is key.”
Once you’ve chosen the theme of the basket, Flores says the next best thing is to ensure that there is also balance in the product selection. She suggests getting a mix of sweet and savory items and products that have variety when it comes to color, size, and packaging materials, as this creates a more visually stimulating experience for the giftee.
Benevides says that if your gift basket has a singular food theme, there should be variety within the category. He also says that a marker of a great assortment are brands or products that aren’t readily available elsewhere, especially the grocery store. We found this to be true while testing. When one of our testers tried out the Murray’s Cheese Greatest Hits Gift Basket, they said they had never seen anything like the included spiced cherry preserves in their local supermarket, which made the experience of discovering it from the gift basket all the more special.
Flores told us that in addition to product variety, she also strongly believes in giving a gift basket that exposes people to new products they’ve never experienced before. “I know I’ve done my job well when a friend I’ve gifted begins to purchase the same product(s) for themselves or, even better, gifts to others!” Another important consideration that Fisher pointed out is knowing the receivers’ dietary restrictions.
People sometimes gawk at the high price of gift baskets, as many are more than $100. It’s important to know that the price you are paying for a gift basket is more than just the products within it. It’s also the expert curation of those products, the packaging of it all, the shipping costs, and the assurance that it will arrive safely (and beautifully assembled) to its recipient.
Flores told us that the number of products also affects the price. “Just under $100 is very doable for a smaller selection of goods," she says. "I do think one should be able to purchase a very well-appointed, premium, and generous gift box of dried goods for $140 (8-10 products inside depending on what they are)."
Based on her experience, Flores says that it’s best to buy a gift basket from a brand that makes gift baskets a central part of what they do, as this will ensure you get a good value for your money. “I do see examples of businesses where gift baskets are clearly not their main priority, so prices are very high compared to what you would pay for the products individually in store,” she says. “If a gift basket is double what you’d pay for the same products in store (less shipping), you’re probably not in the right place.” Fisher echoes this, telling us that she personally wouldn’t pay more than two times the retail value of each item in the basket.
More Gift Baskets to Consider
Best of Magnolia Bakery Baked Fresh Sampler Pack: You can now get Magnolia Bakery’s famous banana puddings shipped directly to your home, as well as some brownies. While our testers said the puddings were great, some did say the brownies were dry, which lowered the overall value of this gift basket.
Compartés Vegan Dark Chocolate Assortment Gift Box: This vegan chocolate was so good that one of our testers said that if they hadn’t known the chocolate was vegan, they wouldn’t be able to discern the difference between normal chocolate. Our testers were split on the value though, with some not liking how promised goodies, such as pretzels and pineapple, weren’t included in the box.
Questions You Might Ask
Are gift baskets worth the cost?
They can be. Our testers frequently said while trying out different gift boxes that they could get all the items included for less at their local grocery store. While that may be true in some cases, Fisher says there’s more to the cost than the total sum of the included products.
“Consider the value of your time!" she says. "Going out to select and purchase each item, then assemble properly for shipping (not to mention the shipping itself) is time-consuming, and more than likely your basket won't arrive looking as beautiful as you hoped. Gifting companies go to great lengths to curate the perfect gift for you and package in a way that will ensure a beautiful experience upon delivery. There is serious value in their expertise and freeing up your time so that you can make someone's day and still enjoy your own.”
Considering all of this, Flores told us that going with a professionally assembled gift basket may end up actually costing you less in the end than if you did it all yourself, so it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.
Is there a chance food in a gift basket will spoil while in transit?
This varies greatly by the goods in your basket as well as the brand you are buying from. Although fear of food spoilage is a legitimate concern, our gift basket experts assured us that there are techniques and systems in place to prevent this from happening. “When we receive a gift basket order that contains perishable items, we pack those separately inside an insulated sleeve along with ice packs, which prevents the food from spoiling,” says Benevides. He suggests looking into exactly how the brand packages their perishables for reassurance.
Flores also stresses looking into the brand at large to ensure that they are credible, as this can affect the state of your product when it gets to its recipient. “If you select a reputable retailer, they will have the proper supply chain in place that guarantees freshness," she says. "If you are shipping perishable items, the correct 'cold chain' will be in place via their delivery courier.”
She also explains that retailers usually aim to include dry goods that are fresh for six or more months. “Unless a product is perishable, a gift basket shouldn’t have to be consumed immediately. The receiving party should have time to enjoy their gift,” she says.
If you want to be extra careful, Fisher recommends not ordering specific foods during certain times of the year. “Steer clear of cheese, chocolate, or fruit baskets during the hotter months where spoilage and melting may occur, and instead opt for alcohol, snacks, or cooking themed baskets that are more stable,” she says.
Regardless of whether or not the items in your gift basket are perishable or not, always read the brand’s direction on consuming and storing the food, which should be included with the gift basket.
What are good occasions to get someone a gift basket?
In addition to the holidays, our gifting experts pointed out other occasions that call for a gift basket. “I like to send a gift basket as a pre- or post-hosting gift," says Flores. "For example, if a friend is hosting me as a weekend guest in their home, it’s fun and unexpected when the basket arrives either before or after your stay.“
Additionally, says Flores, "any sort of life event that might make cooking difficult or inconvenient is a great time to gift food—like a new baby, new house, or if someone is not well.” Fisher also loves the idea of getting a gift basket for a housewarming gift. “When you move into a new home, you often only have the condiments that you brought with you and the bottle of champagne to pop. A charcuterie themed gift basket would be a nice addition to the new home,” she says.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Rachel Center, a product reviews home writer for Real Simple. We researched the best gift baskets and tested 24 of the most popular options in our Lab, evaluating them on selection, quality of foods, and overall value. We also sought the advice of gift basket experts, including Michael Benevides, Vice President of Portugalia Marketplace, Cristina Flores, Vice President of Product at Eataly North America, and Kristin Fisher, founder of Bocu.
What Is Real Simple Selects?
Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible.
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