How to arrange the items in a gift basket is probably the most often asked question in my gift basket workshops. It is also the most difficult to answer. I believe the easiest way to answer the question is by asking a series of questions. The answers to these questions will present the solution for arranging each basket.
What is the shape of the container? Flat, deep, tall, with or without a handle, one large handle or 2 small side handles, with or without sides
How is the basket going to be view? From the front, from 2 sides or from all sides?
Are there going to be tall items in the basket or with the items be mostly flat and low?
If a basket is flat and going to viewed from above, then arrange the items so they can be seen from above with some overlapping of the edges for interest.
If the basket is going to have tall items but be view from the front, then arrange the tallest items at the back to form a kind of wall and work forward with shorter and shorter items as you move towards the front.
If the basket is going to be viewed from 2 sides, you will need to make 2 fronts. A central focal item or items will fill the center with a similar view from both sides. Then as much as possible, arrange duplicate items on each side in a uniform manner until all the items are placed.
If the basket is to be viewed from all sides, begin in the center with the tallest item and continue placing the rest of the items in lower and lower steps towards the front edge.
If the basket has a tall handle, it will present the most challenging kind of basket. Arrangement similar to those recommended for the 2 sided basket will work best. The main difficulty will come with the cellophane is added. Tall handles require much more cellophane and often require special handling of the cellophane. We will leave that for another guide.
Baskets with 2 low side handles are not a problem for the most part and should be treated like a similar basket with no handles. The only thing that will be different will be that we usually think the handles belong on the sides. So place the items with that in mind.
Finally baskets that are top heavy such as those with wine bottles in them may require some ballast to keep them from tipping over. Zip bags filled with clean sand will help stabilize the basket so it is less likely to tip over. Put the sand bags under the filler around the base of the bottle and put the filler over the bags so they can not be seen.
It is also helpful not to feel that every single item you planned to go in the basket absolutely must be included. If you find a pleasing arrangement with things left over, don't worry. You have been successful and the extra items will come in handy at a later date.
Each basket is a new adventure and will need some special attention unless you are repeating the same one several times. In that case, you labor over the first one and skate through the rest. Makes the job easy, but rarely happens. So have fun with it. Enjoy the process.
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