Following the death of a loved one, prayers and well meaning words of condolence are appropriate but sometimes people feel the need to reach out and find other ways to express support for the bereaved. One option is through the gift of a homemade sympathy basket. While there are many fine prepackaged gift baskets that can be found in stores and online, being aware of the preferences of the recipient will make a homemade basket a welcome and memorable present. Here are some suggestions for assembling such a heartfelt gift:
FOOD AND SNACKS – One of the advantages in giving a sympathy gift basket to someone you are acquainted with is that it allows you to personalize the basket and provide food items that the recipient is fond of. While the purpose of food in the sympathy gift basket is to offer quick snacks for the bereaved, many times the grieving may not be hungry or have time to eat. Due to these factors, food that may spoil should be avoided. Fill the basket with food items that are prepackaged so when the recipient is ready to partake of your gift it is fresh and tasty. Some examples include teas, cookies or crackers, non-perishable cheese spreads, nuts, candy, and gourmet popcorn.
MEMORIAL ITEM – Another suggested item for a sympathy gift basket would be an inspirational or memorial gift, which the bereaved will find comforting long after all the food items are eaten or forgotten. Such gifts could include:
- Memorial Picture frame with a photo of the deceased, if available
- CD with soothing music; classical or instrumental would be appropriate
- Memorial Angel figurine
- Book – Many books on coping with grief are available. Some people may prefer journals to capture their feelings and memories, and assist them through the grieving process.
- Keepsake Box to store pictures or mementos of the deceased
SPA ITEMS – The grieving are dealing with what is probably the most stressful time of their life. Incorporating products, such as lavender bath salts, a sleep mask, or candles will soothe and pamper.
THE BASKET – A wide variety of inexpensive baskets can be found at most craft stores. Discount outlets may also have suitable baskets for gifting. The basket color should be deep enough to hold the gift basket items. Avoid loud and bold colors.
ASSEMBLY – To allow for different heights and to stabilize the basket, foam blocks and/or newspaper/craft paper is used. If using newspaper, first wad the paper and create indentations within the paper for the sympathy gift basket items. To keep the basket items fitting tightly, pack the space between the items with the filler paper. Shredded paper, confetti, or curling ribbon is most often used within a basket as filler. For an enhanced presentation, the taller items should be placed toward the back of the basket. GlueDots are available in most craft stores and can be used to anchor items to the basket or to other items within the basket. The final step is to wrap the basket in cellophane. Cellophane bags are available, as are cellophane rolls. For an attractive presentation, a bow with ribbons can be draped around the basket.
CARD – The basket should contain a sympathy card with a short, personal note using the name of the deceased.
Using these basic suggestions and a little creativity, a homemade sympathy basket provides a comforting gift during a difficult time.