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Gift Baskets

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A staple of holiday gift-giving is the mail-order gift basket. Pictures online and in catalogues look great, but what actually arrives at the door?

The easiest way to buy a holiday gift basket is probably to go to a store where you could pick what goes into the basket you're giving. But for those who need to send their gifts, Consumer Reports just tested 11 mail-order baskets and found a wide range of prices from just over $40 to $80 a basket.

But beware, that doesn't include shipping costs, which can really add up.

"For one of the baskets, the shipping and handling charges added up to more than $35, almost two-thirds the cost of the gift," said Ellen Klosz of Consumer Reports.

Some of the lower-rated baskets had food that was nothing special.

"The classic gourmet sampler tray from Cherry Moon Farms, for example, the sausage tasted more fatty than meaty and some crackers were stale," Klosz said.

Consumer Reports rated five baskets very good. Among them:

  • For the gourmet, the International Gift Basket classic from igourmet.com includes four interesting cheeses, a serano ham, and crisp crackers at $59.99.
  • For the fruit lover, the Harvest Selection from the fruit company.com with a selection of pears, crisp apples, and flavorful nuts at $79.95.
  • For the no-frills meat lover on your list who doesn't care about fancy packaging, the Gift Party Traditions from usingers.com has a large selection of flavorful sausages and cheeses at $42.50.

    The prices for these baskets doesn't include the cost of shipping.

    No matter which type of basket you choose, make sure you get the tracking information when you order. That way, if the gift basket ends up off track in the holiday crunch, you can get it back on track quickly.


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