Gift shopping can be a difficult activity. It’s either you don’t know the recipient well enough to be sure of any one gift item, or you know him/her too well that you can’t decide what to buy for them. It’s not unusual to window-shop throughout the entire mall only to be at a total loss at the very end. Maybe you should just give the whole thing up and just send a lousy card?Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of buying only one gift item, why not give gift baskets? A gift basket contains more than one gift items, placed in a container (usually a basket, hence the name), and wrapped in an attractive way. A gift basket can make your shopping trip a little easier and quicker, without sacrificing any sentiments you wish to convey with your gift.There are many kinds of gift baskets – all you have to do is lookHave you ever walked through the supermarket’s discount goods section and seen baskets of bundled items being sold for less? These are examples of the more generic gift baskets out there – they’re not made specifically for anybody, but it’s still a pretty useful thing to buy. When you’re the head of a company, such baskets may make a good addition to your employees’ mid-year bonuses.But if you’re looking for a gift basket that’s suited for the occasion, you might want to stay out of the supermarket and spend more time in the department store. During the Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays, for instance, it’s easy to find holiday-themed baskets in malls and gift shops. Baskets made for the occasion are appreciated more than generic baskets.For the more important occasions and persons in your life, it’s a good idea to get a customized gift basket instead. Many gift shops that have gift baskets on their shelves can put together a personalized gift basket for you for a reasonable price. All you need to do is give your ideas as to what you’d want the basket to contain and look like, and they’ll set to work right away.What to know about customizing gift basketsIt’s often fun and rewarding to customize a gift basket for the special people in your life. When you know their own unique traits, affinities, and quirks, it’s easy to put a fun gift basket together. In addition, when you know what they’re truly passionate about (like their career, their hobby, the environment, etc.), you can easily customize a gift basket to contain gift items that hit home.When you want to have a customized gift basket prepared, look for a good gift basket shop that offers these services. You can even find gift shops on the Internet who also customize baskets for you – and some even offer to deliver the gift to your recipient’s doorstep. Of course, you might want to hand-deliver the gift basket on certain occasions, since it’s always better when you see the expression on your recipient’s face when they see it!If you know your recipient really, really well, then you might want to put it together yourself to make it even more special. Creating your very own gift basket is fun and challenging at the same time – in fact, it might even give you an idea for a business you can do on the side. Wouldn’t that be a fun way to ride out the recession?What makes a great gift basketThe sky’s virtually the limit when it comes to designing a great gift basket, but there are two elements that should always be present – the gift items, and the basket container. (Oh, really?) Some gift wrapping and maybe a dedication card will fit right in, but some gift baskets often do just fine without these. But if you want the gift to be a surprise, some wrapping paper will definitely be in order.First of all, the gift items would be great if they were related to each other. For instance, if your recipient is a romance novel lover, you might put together a few new romance titles, some candy, and a hot chocolate recipe. If he’s a desk jockey, throw in an organizer, a picture frame, some plastic plants to put on his desk, and maybe even a book on time management at the workplace. A targeted gift basket is always better than a scattershot one.When it comes to wrapping, you have three choices – the usual wrapping paper, some transparent/translucent wrapping, or no wrapping at all. This really depends on whether you’d like your recipient to see your gifts right away, or you’d like to give them the glee of ripping off the wrapping!Any occasion is a great occasionWhile there are fixed “gift-giving” seasons throughout the year, anytime is always a great time to give gift baskets. No matter the occasion, a well-prepared gift basket will always be a thoughtful gesture – and the more personal the gift basket is, the more meaningful and memorable it will be.Seasons such as Christmas and Thanksgiving are great times to give a gift basket to the people you love. A Christmas gift basket may contain some toys and candy for a younger recipient, while parents may appreciate some good wine and cheese. And it’s hard to go wrong with some well-selected food items in a Thanksgiving gift basket.Birthdays and weddings are also good occasions to give a meaningful gift basket. It’s pretty easy to come up with ideas for a new baby or a new couple, especially if you know them well. A set of dinnerware and cutlery will make great wedding gifts, and a baby’s gift basket may contain toys, vitamins, and some new shoes.So if you want to make the occasion a little extra special, go the extra mile and put a gift basket together. It’s one of the best ways to make a great impression to the special people in our lives.