Last minute gifts are the worst! It is so difficult to fight all the other last minute shoppers while trying to figure out just what to buy.

It can be tough to do last minute shopping, especially if you don't have a plan. It is particularly bad because last minute gifts are usually either really cheesy and cheap or super expensive. However, that does not have to be the case. You can find unique, special gifts at the last minute and they don't have to cost a small fortune.

Gift baskets are a great gift idea. You can create a gift with a special person in mind and tailor it just for them. On the other hand, if there is someone you don't know very well, you can create a somewhat generic gift basket as well.

The gift baskets listed here cost less than $25. Most of the items included in the basket can be bought at a mass merchandising store such as Target or Wal-Mart, at the dollar store and even at the grocery store.

Of course, some items may be purchased at specialty stores and this will increase the cost, but if you keep to these guidelines, you can easily create a beautiful gift that will be enjoyed and remembered.

When creating a gift basket, you don't have to stuff it with a bunch of items. A few nice things go a long way. Choose a basket that reflects the person you are gifting or compliments the theme of the basket. Thrift stores and yard sales are a great place to get inexpensive baskets. Get in the habit of picking up baskets whenever you run across a great deal.

Craft stores and stores like Wal-Mart and Target also have some very attractive, inexpensive baskets. It is up to you how much work you actually want to put into it. You can line your basket with some pretty, colored tissue, tinsel, grass, moss or anything that is attractive and matches the theme and the basket.

These are ten common types of baskets to create. You can come up with your own ideas and even add to the ideas here. This is only to get you started and inspired. Let your creativity flow!

The Gardener

Use a planter or flower pot as the basket. Add items such as a trowel, spade, watering can (this can also be the basket), seeds, a book on growing vegetables, flowers, herb gardens, etc., and gardening gloves. Tie a ribbon around the items such as the spade and the trowel and arrange all the items in the basket in an attractive way. This little basket is sure to delight the gardener in your life!

Other items to consider: kneeling pad, bulbs, plant food, seedlings.

The Coffee Drinker

In a pretty basket arrange a bag of coffee (specialty or flavored coffee is especially nice), coffee cups, and biscotti. Add a pretty ribbon to the cup handles. If the person has a coffee grinder, you can give them whole coffee beans. Many grocery stores have gourmet coffee that is very reasonably priced. You can purchase the coffee cups at the dollar store. They often have some really cool designs.

Other items to consider: chocolate spoons, flavored syrup, cinnamon sticks

For the Kids

A grab bag type basket is lots of fun for kids of just about any age. Use either a colorful plastic basket, nylon netting or a fun, decorative bag and wrap each item individually in colorful tissue, tied at the top with a ribbon. Items to add can be just about anything you can imagine. Most things you can find at the dollar store, such as bubbles, silly putty, mini games, small toys, Play Dough, marbles, jacks and bouncy balls.

Other items to consider: candy, video rental gift card, toiletry items, flashlight

Fun for Teens

This is a fun gift to give for teens, especially if you have one nice gift, such as jewelry or clothing. Wrap the nice gift and put it in the bottom of the basket or bag. Add fun items like silly putty, coloring books and crayons, bubbles, silly string and other fun gadgets on top (Hint: All the teens I know really like the silly string. A 15-year-old girl got so excited when I gave her bubbles with her earrings. She likes the earrings, but she went on and on about the glow in the dark silly putty and the bubbles). Boys may like things like a gift card for video game rentals, sports items and magazines.

Other items to consider: bubble gum, bubble gum machine (the cheap plastic bank kind)

Tea for Two

This is one that I love to give. It is so easy and costs very little. Get a pretty basket that is rather shallow (I actually prefer a decorative tin with a hinged top that I can leave open). Pick up a couple of pretty dishtowels at the dollar store and drape them across the bottom and over the sides. Get two coffee mugs at the dollar store and place them in your basket. Add a box of tea, a bottle of honey and some shortbread. Decorate with a couple or ribbons and you have a very pretty gift that any tea drinker will love!

Other items to consider: a book or gift card to a bookstore, soothing music CD

The Chocoholic

This is a fun gift basket. You can go just about anywhere you want with this one. If your chocoholic likes all types of chocolate, you can get dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. If they only like a certain kind, you can just stick to that type. Get truffles, chocolate with caramel, mint or some other filling. Kisses and peanut butter cups are also a hit. Add some candy bars and some pretty ribbons and you have a hit!

Other items to consider: hot cocoa, chocolate milk mix, chocolate spoons for coffee.

For the Couple with Everything

This basket is a great hit with couples. If they drink, get a bottle of champagne or wine. An Asti is nice as a champagne and you will probably pay $10 - $14 for a bottle. You can get a white zinfandel wine for a bit less. Get two wine glasses and tie a ribbon around each stem. Add a couple of small scented candles and a CD of "mood" music (I found a great one at the dollar store) and you have a romantic evening basket for the couple who has everything.

Other items to consider: chocolates, chocolate covered strawberries (this will definitely have to be last minute).

The Avid Reader

You don't have to get a book for this basket to be a hit. Get a gift card to your recipient's favorite bookstore and enclose a list of their favorite author's books. Add some chocolate truffles, cocoa and a mug. This is a smaller gift but it is always appreciated.

Other items to consider: candle, bath pillow, aromatherapy oils (to create a spa experience)

The Fitness Fanatic

It really depends on what type of activity the recipient does as to what you put in the basket, but this is basic. A sports bottle, energy bar, a book on healthy eating, fitness journal, a pedometer and other small items can all be included in the basket. A person who is into weightlifting may like some gloves and someone who likes running may like some cool shoelaces. Hit the sporting goods department of your favorite store and see what catches your fancy. It really depends on how much you want to spend.

Other items to consider: tai chi video, medicine ball, exercise ball, resistance bands, jump rope

The Gamer

This is another fun and easy basket for kids of any age. Teenagers love this basket as well as adults. A video game rental gift certificate (or a video game) is the focal point. Add some snacks such as chips or microwave popcorn and soda. You can also include a gamer magazine (it helps to know the gaming system so you can get the right type) or book. If you want to spend the extra money, you can include accessories like memory cards or controls.

Other items to consider: cheat codes for their favorite game (you can get these off of the internet), a 6-pack (for the adult gamer)

This is a good start and hopefully will spark your creative juices. Gift baskets are easy, fast and inexpensive. Plus, they are lots of fun to create and give!

There is no limit to they type of basket you can create. Put together a gourmet cook basket with cooking items, utensils and put it in a mixing bowl lined with a dishtowel.

For the gearhead, have various car gadgets, tools, and a car book or magazine. Take a minute to think about the person for whom you are buying and make a list of the things that you know they enjoy doing or that they like. You can go from there.

Get creative, have fun and give this unique, memorable gift that won't cost a fortune!


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