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Michael Scott said it best in Season 4 of The Office: "Gift baskets are the essence of class and fanciness. They are the ultimate present a person can receive." I have to agree.
When I was growing up, I came home from school one day to find an opulent gift basket on our kitchen counter. Pears wrapped in gold foil caught the light. I marveled at the vast, non perishable (?) cheese selection and the poshest popcorn I’d ever seen.
This holiday season, make someone in your life feel the way I felt about that basket. Yes, you can hit our old friends Harry & David up for this kind of thing, but why not assemble one yourself? The whole thing comes together quickly (Hello, last-minute gifts!) and strikes a nice balance between the thoughtfulness of a homemade gift and ease of a store-bought one. Here's everything you need to assemble a gourmet food basket.
(Duh!) Start assembling your gourmet gift from the basket up. Choose a durable, sturdy variety that can be used again, whether it's a woven leather basket or a metallic wire option. Also think about how much you want to put in the basket. If you're giving it to a couple or a family, go with a larger model. If you're assembling a gift basket for one, stick with a not-overwhelming single-serving style.
BUY IT: Woven Basket. $37 at Wayfair
This time of year, you can never have too much bubbly on hand, whether it’s true Champagne or quality domestic fizz.
Coffee and tea
On the flip side, how about some caffeinated components? Choose a bag of coffee from your favorite local roaster, or allow them to try a variety of beans with a coffee subscription service like Atlas Coffee. (You could even throw in a travel mug or some new-wave instant coffee.) Does your giftee prefer tea? We love Alfred’s loose leaf collection—and it gets extra points for its beautiful packaging.
Add color and freshness to your basket with winter fruit. This time of year, opt for pears and any kind of citrus, especially special varieties like sumo or kishu mandarins, pomelos, and pink lemons. Include an assortment of fruit in different shapes, colors, and sizes for maximum visual impact.
Make your gift even sweeter with some fancy chocolate. Whether in the form of an oversized bar (in design-y packaging) or a jar of Nutella-inspired spread, chocolate is a gift basket staple for a reason and that reason is that everyone loves it.
It's hard to give someone a cheese plate for Christmas, but you can give them everything they need to build their own. We love the paper-wrapped sausages from Olympia Provisions and Murray's Prosciutto di Parma. Also include a few cheeses, and throw in some colorful Portuguese sardine tins for good measure.
Add crunch to your gift basket with some savory, salty crackers—after all, they’re going to need something transport that cheese into their mouths. Try tortas flavored with Seville oranges, or something spicy, like harissa crackers. Salty, onion-y flatbread crackers are another star player.
Olive oil has that rare gift quality of feeling both special and practical. For holiday purposes, choose one that comes in an eye-catching bottle (no wrapping required). We love the minimalist design of Brightland's extra-virgin olive oil and the beauty of Especially Puglia's canister, which comes with an olive oil cruet.
Fig jam is a classic (especially with the aforementioned charcuterie components), but Epicurious editors also love Inna's strawberry jam (it won their taste test of the best strawberry jams. Or throw in a jar of gourmet honey, like this lavender-scented option from the Savannah Bee Company.
Complete the basket with an assortment of savory condiments and spices they can use in their cooking all year round. Tuck in some cardamom pods and za'atar, or fancy versions of pantry staples like soy sauce, whole grain mustard, and flaky salt. To really go above and beyond, include a good-looking salt cellar.
BUY IT: Za'atar, $15 at La Boite
BUY IT: Whole Grain Mustard
Originally Appeared on Epicurious