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Friday, August 04, 2006

Gift Baskets With International Appeal, Great Fun To Put Together

Whether you need a gift for a special traveler, a friend interested in various cultures or someone of a particular ethnicity, you can tailor a gift basket to represent a particular country or world region.  It allows the giver to be both creative and thoughtful—such baskets are also great fun to put together as you may want to hunt for particular items to suit your needs.  The following article suggests some wonderful ways to create gift baskets with international sensibilities and charm.

Russia offers a wide array of items that represent its wonderfully colorful history and various cultures.  When designing a gift basket for a friend with Russian heritage or interests consider a large peasant-style basket beset with a layer of Russian embroidery or a large piece of canvas on which you trace a map of Russia denoting various cities and landmarks.  Then, fill your basket with items like freshly baked brown bread, a small decorative lacquered box, a set of Martryoshka dolls, a small bottle of good vodka and you have a memorable gift with Russian appeal. 

Know someone who loves Chinese food?  Consider a starting with a bamboo or large reed-woven basket and fill with a small wok, wok oil, chopsticks, a Chinese cookbook, various bottles of Oriental sauces and a gift certificate to a local or online Chinese cooking specialty store.  Top off with a bag of fortune cookies and a copy of Pearl S. Buck’s Nobel Prize winning book The Good Earth.

Many women would adore a touch of France with their gift.  A romantic French gift basket could employ a vintage suitcase marked with French luggage labels to replace the traditional basket.  Then, pack up a new nightgown with a French tag, an exquisite bottle of French perfume such as Balle a Versailles or the classic Chanel Number Five.  You may want to include a book about French Fashion and if it’s a special anniversary gift, slip a pair of round-trip tickets to Paris into a new Pierre Cardin evening bag.

An Italian gift basket will have little trouble filling itself with items like pizza stones, Murano glass candy, a Venetian filigree vase, a Tuscan-inspired cookbook, a book about ancient Rome, various bottles of spices imported from Italy, a set of note cards depicting various Florentine artists, and so forth.  Italy is a culturally rich nation famous for so many things.  Your basket may represent Italy’s art, cuisine, history, etc…

How about a basket with Egyptian appeal?  Fill a large basket with decorative Egyptian papyrus, a jackal-headed pen-knife, a book about Egyptian archaeology or hieroglyphics, a carved scarab made from lapis lazuli, glass crocodile paperweight, a tin of figs or dates, small statue of Cleopatra, sphinx bookends and so forth.  Alternative books might cover topics like the pyramids, pharaohs, the famous lighthouse or library or Alexandra, Egyptian flora or ancient Egyptian society.

Or, your gift basket may exhibit southwestern gift basket Native American appeal.  Line a basket with a small woven blanket in the Pueblo or Navaho style.  Then, fill with a Kachina doll, prickly pear tea, decorative stones denoting various animals, beaded necklace, a turquoise-studded belt or bracelet, a book about Anasazi culture, a teepee-shaped candle holder, etc…

An English basket will provide considerable charm.  Fill with a small big-Ben replicated desk clock, English toffee, Earl Gray tea, a Victorian stationary set, a biography of Shakespeare or the Bronte sisters, a set of postcards of English landmarks, and possibly some examples of decorative fine English bone china. 

Alternatively, your gift basket may be continental in nature.  Fill with various famous offerings from states like Texas chili mix, Louisiana hot sauce, and Virginia ham.  Or, go with an Africa-inspired basket—a book about the Maori, a Moroccan tapestry, a video about the breaching Great Whites of South Africa, etc…

An alternative to focusing on one country could be to focus on a particular item like chocolate or tea and fill your baskets with examples from various countries.  For chocolate, fill your basket with Mexican cocoa, dark chocolate candy bars from Switzerland and German chocolate cake on a platter decorated with vintage chocolate adds.  Other items available with international stamps include candy, costume jewelry, music, films, books, dolls and so forth.

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