If you know a Francophile, delight him or her with a great France-themed gift basket. You can make a one-off unique gift and have great fun yourself choosing what to go into your present. While each basket will be different, there are some general tips to follow. Here are step-by-step instructions, including links to compare prices on suggested items to use.
Start on Vacation in France and Pick a Container
If you're on holiday in France, bear the gift theme in mind as you travel.
Find a great container that will be as important as the gifts inside. Don't limit yourself to simple baskets but think imaginatively and think quintessential French. Find a hat box with a pretty toile fabric, or pick up a Provençal tote bag on holiday in one of the many outdoor markets in Provence and every major city. As you're walking past the different stalls keep an eye open for odd boxes, or even a wooden crate if it's not too heavy. When you're in the countryside, check out the local vide greniers (literally 'emptying the attic, the French equivalent of yard or car boot sales).
There's a website in French, which lists every vide grenier, down to the smallest village; check out the website here. In France it's always worth keeping an eye open for bargains; check out the discount and shopping mall article which includes information on vides greniers and brocante (bric-a-brac) fairs.
If you're thinking French, then Le Creuset springs to mind, particularly if you want to make a food-themed basket. The Le Creuset Tomato Casserole is delightful and practical as well as any cook will love to use it afterwards. (There's an excellent Le Creuset outlet in the discount mall in Troyes where you'll find lots of good bargains on housewares.)
Pick a Theme
Is your gift recipient a Francophile who loves to cook? Or perhaps he or she loves wine or cheese? Maybe he or she loves French soaps and other indulgences, loves to travel, or is a bookworm. There are endless possibilities; just take a little time to remember your recipient's tastes. Here are some possible themes:
- Gourmet gift basket - You can choose a fine mix of French food staples, cheeses, and other goodies. Ditch the gift tissue, and wrap everything inside an I Love France Apron.
- Cheese lover gift basket - Give an emphasis on cheese with these great cheese plates, plus the Cheese Companion encyclopedia of cheeses.
- Wine aficianado gift basket - This gift basket can show off the best of France's wines. Start with a good bottle of wine. Add a Wine Cork Bulletin Board Kit which is great fun and useful. Then add the useful latest Wine Spectator's Annual Restaurant Guide.
- Travel junkie gift basket - Include great items for the travel junkie. Start with a container like one of these Top Bags for Traveling With Laptops and Gadgets. If it's for a woman, throw in some of these Packing Must-Haves. Is the recipient planning a visit? Give a rail pass or France map.
- Bookworm gift basket - Give someone the gift of great reads with books set in France. Tuck everything into an "I Love Paris" totebag.
- Christmas gift basket - This is the perfect excuse to go to one of those fabulous French markets where the streets are filled with little stalls selling local wares. Check out the major French Christmas markets here, and in you're in North France, try these markets.
Pick a Centerpiece Item
You probably don't want to spend a fortune on the gift basket so it's a good idea to pick one central item to focus most of your budget on, and/or to draw the eye and make the gift basket look particularly appealing.
Choose Smaller Items
Look for items that are less expensive to fill out the basket. Wine label removers are great, as well as smaller gourmet items like jams, mustards, crepe mix, and so on.
Close With Creativity
Think of a creative way to finish it off. Visit your local bookstore or Barnes and Noble and find a French newspaper, then shred it to make a filler. Wrap the basket with plastic wrap, and attach a tag with a French phrase printed on it, like "Joyeux Noel" for Christmas, "Bonne Anniversaire" for a birthday, or simple terms like "Bonjour." Et voilà as they say.