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Gift Baskets Review
Why Shop For Gift Baskets Online?
Reviewing gift baskets can literally involve comparing apples and oranges, but we taste-tested 11 gift baskets to find the best ones for most people. The best gift basket we evaluated is the Founders’ Favorite Gift Box from Harry & David. It’s our number one pick because the fruit was perfectly ripe and our taste testers loved the selection of cheese, crackers, sweet-spicy relish and chocolate treats. This is the best gift basket for you if you’re looking to include a basic selection of the foods that most people expect in a gift basket.
If you want more exotic flavors, the California Classic Gift Basket from igourmet.com includes Cypress Grove’s Purple Haze, a goat cheese mixed with lavender buds that wowed our tasting panel. If you want the most gift basket for your buck, the Gourmet Choice Gift Basket from Wine Country Gift Baskets featured an enormous selection of food that rated highly on our taste test.
How We Tested
To test gift baskets, we ordered 11 baskets that cost around $100 from each of the top companies we researched. We took careful notes of how the baskets arrived and what condition they were in before we opened them up and spread the contents out in our breakroom. Then we put out the call and our coworker testers came running.
We gave each tester a ballot with the names of each basket and room to rate five food items from each one. Many people ate and commented on more than the five items. We also had our testers vote on the best basket overall and any food items that exceeded expectations. After our official testers went through and tasted the baskets, we invited everyone else in the building to come taste the food and give their opinions as well.
We then collected all the ratings and ranked baskets by the average food scores. Over the course of our afternoon of testing, we compiled almost 1,000 individual food ratings. We took these ratings and considered them with other ratings on delivery, payment options and extras to come up with the overall best basket.
There are hundreds of different gift baskets to choose from, so we chose baskets that offered similar foods and that cost around $100. Many of the baskets had fruit and most included crackers, cheese, sliceable meats and popcorn or other sweet treats.
If there’s a Platonic ideal of a gift basket, we feel that it would contain fruit, crackers, cheese and a great sweet like the chocolate covered cherries from Harry & David, all presented in a beautiful basket. Of all the baskets we tested, we feel that the Founders’ Favorite Gift Box from Harry & David is closest to this ideal.
Specialty and Themed Gift Baskets
If you’re looking for flower delivery websites, we didn’t test them here, but we’ll be testing them later. FTD, one of the biggest names in flower delivery, also has a selection of gift baskets and treat baskets.
We found that most gift basket companies sell themed baskets designed for thank you gifts, get well wishes and other major occasions. Most companies we tested sell holiday gift baskets for Christmas, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and other major holidays.
If you’re searching for a basket for a specific occasion like a new baby, a sympathy gift or a birthday basket, GourmetGiftBaskets.com has many fun and unique baskets that fit specific occasions. Many companies also feature baskets that are kosher or vegan, though we found that searching for vegan baskets on many websites only pulls up lists of fruit and nut samplers.
There are also many companies that offer wine gift baskets or that offer wine as an add-on to baskets. Much to the disappointment of our tasting panel, we didn’t test baskets with wine for several reasons, the biggest being that Utah, where our office resides, is a state where winery direct shipping is prohibited.
Meats & Cheeses
Though meat and cheese are often included in a gift basket, there are several companies that specialize in meats. One of the most well-known meat-focused gift companies is Hickory Farms. This company sells gift baskets and boxes with a focus on sausages and cheeses. However, it only offers a small selection of gift baskets and none are explicitly themed or focused on specific occasions. Dean & DeLuca is another company that specializes in fine foods with a focus on meats and cheeses. We didn’t test Dean & DeLuca’s gift baskets, but they look delicious.
Gift Baskets for Men
Several companies sell gift baskets specifically tailored for men. While these baskets are suitable for many women as well, the assortments of liquor, sports paraphernalia and snacks can be a unique and fun gift for the man in your life. The Bro Basket offers many assorted baskets with whiskey and beer samplers that get good reviews. GourmetGiftBaskets.com also offers a selection of sports-themed baskets for men with candy and meat. Man Crates sells out-of-the-ordinary gifts for men, such as boxes and crates that focus on hobbies like knife making, beer, motorcycles and golfing.
Notes About the Food in Gift Baskets
As far as we know, no one else has tested gift baskets to the extent that we have. That gives us a chance to make some general comments about the food items you’ll find in the gift baskets we tested.
In general, the fruit we found in the gift baskets was very average. Some baskets contained pieces of fruit that were overripe or underripe, but all the fruit in a basket was rarely the same quality. We found everything in the fruit that was shipped to us, including mold, yellow oranges, overripe and squishy pears, and soft and tasteless apples. As one of our testers said, “Fruit is a risky choice; cheese and crunchies are best.”
Harry & David was one of the few exceptions. Its apples and pears got high marks from all of our testers, and we had only positive things to say about its fruit.
Most of the gift baskets we tested included crackers, which is important because they go well with the cheeses and mustards that many baskets include. Many baskets we tested included multiple brands and varieties of crackers. But variety doesn’t mean they are delicious. In the words of one of our testers, out of all the baskets there was a “surprising lack of good crackers.” Many of the crackers were just slightly stale and tasteless.
If you’re sending a basket to a loved one, maybe suggest that they buy a box of their favorite crackers separately. The rosemary and olive oil crackers from Wine Country Gift Baskets were the highest-rated crackers by our testing panel.
While cheese preferences vary from person to person, generally speaking our taste testers rated the spreadable cheeses lower than sliceable cheeses. However, the lavender-infused goat cheese from igourmet was one of the highest-rated cheeses our testers ate.
In the 11 baskets, we found that several contained the exact same Sonoma Jacks wedges of spreadable cheese. This cheese wasn’t rated highly by our testers. The gouda cheese included in the Harry & David box we tested was highly rated, as were all of the cheeses in the igourmet basket.
If you want to send a gift box that has the best of all foods, we recommend the Founders’ Favorites Gift Box from Harry & David. Not only does it come with incredible-tasting fruit, but the cheese and crackers were highly rated. You can read more in our in-depth reviews of each basket we tested.