5 Easy Ways to Make Food Products Perfect For Gifts & Baskets

Use These Simple Ideas To Give Your Foods and Drinks Gift Appeal

There's no shortage of non-food holiday gift options these days, let alone the many wonderful chocolate options.

So how can the 80 percent of non-gift oriented food makers get on the lavish gifting bandwagon? (Valentine's Day givers spend an average of $199 for online purchases.)

Good news. The craft and DIY movement has simplified turning everyday food products into gifts—not only for Valentine's Day but for any occasion where food and drinks will fit the bill.

Plan early: Retailers shop for the holidays six months or more in advance. For your own shop or online store, put these ideas into action right away, analyze results and adjust your approach based on feedback.

Everything's Better In a Striped Linen Satchel

Artisan goat milk caramels Valentine's Day gift from Big Picture Farm
Caramels made with Big Picture Farm's own goat milk packed into a country chic Valentine's pouch. Louisa, Big Picture Farm

Big Picture Farm loads their hand-sewn linen bags with their award-winning goat milk caramels. Hand this simple country-chic gift to any candy lover, and you'll be dubbed a Valentine for life.

For food crafters who are not handy with the sewing machine or just don't have the time, plenty of ready-made, eco-friendly gift bags in cloth, jute, recycled gable boxes, kraft paper and other compostable (and collectible) materials are plentiful from online gift supply catalogs.

PapabubbleNY Skips Heart Candy for Heart Shaped Packaging

Pappabubble New York Valentine's Day
Pappabubble New York makes their hand made red hots giftable in a unisex glass heart-shaped jar. Pappabubble New York

Pappabubble New York trains art school graduates to transform sugar, natural flavors and natural colors into artistic hard candies that often look too pretty to eat. For Valentine's Day they naturally pump out, or rather shape, pull and chop, heart-shaped candies. What's also interesting is the company's proprietary heart-shaped glass bottle with a stopper resembling a jaunty top hat.

Pappabubble's Love Potion #9 appeals to natural product lovers and craft-loving hipsters in a few ways:

  • The beautiful jar can be reused in the kitchen or bath.
  • Familiar cinnamon red hot candies made with natural red color and flavor come as a relief to old-time candy lovers who've given up the artificial stuff.
  • The handmade nature of Pappabubble's candy, which they show off at their shops, makes the gift really special.
The lesson: Exclusivity and excellent execution can turn simple products into no-brainer Valentine'

Exclusivity and excellent execution can turn simple products into no-brainer Valentine's gifts.

It's No Frank Sinatra, But This Singing Pasta Got Lots of Amore

Lasagna dinner
Sometimes a lasagna isn't just a lasagna. Like when the package sings to you. pierluigi meazzi / E+ / Getty Images

In 2014, a singing lasagne delighted customers of UK grocery store Waitrose. Sales of chef Charlie Bigham’s ready-to-eat meals more than tripled as a result of a romance-themed novelty lasagne package: Upon opening, Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" begins to play.

The pasta dish came with a unique money-back guarantee for customers who scored the limited-edition lasagne: Get lucky or your money back. That is one cheeky ready-to-eat dish and light-hearted Valentine's Day twist.

Anyone Can Add Custom Music or Messages to Gift Packs

Even the most artisanal, small-batch producers have the technology at your fingertips to blow a gift recipient's mind. Companies supply programmable sound modules for about $10, which of course would cost less when purchased in high volume.

With a high enough gift pack price, or a gift basket, what's another $10 to add a custom song or message? Priceless.

Heart Cookie Cutters and Natural Red Food Dye Add Instant Valentine's Day

Beet Heart Pizza
A Heart-shaped Cookie Cutter Adds a Valentine's Twist to Pizza Toppers. TheTomatoTart.com

We can't get enough of hearts. No matter how trite, love makes the world go around and turns everyday foods into experiences.

Take the HeartBaker (get it?) from the popular pizza chain Papa Murphy's. Ken Calwell, president and chief executive office of Papa Murphy's says this seasonal pizza has been a favorite among staff and customers for over 30 years. Pizza dough sellers can inspire customers to Valetines-ize dinner with heart-shaped homemade pizza.

But what if your company doesn't make pizza pies or sugar cookies?

Enter the heart-shaped cookie cutter. Anything you can cut you can slice and cut into a heart shape. Top off your foods or use the cookie cutter like a stencil for labels or packaging hang tags. This small twist could help you target your foods to kids as well as to love-seekers.

Fall back on the red food dye. Hearts tell a story in all kinds of colors. Similarly, coloring foods red adds a Valentine's Day twist. That being said even when using natural food dyes, the association with bad for you artificial dyes might turn off customers.

Aphrodesiac Foods Gift Basket

Couple with a basket of food
A basket full of aphrodesiac foods makes for a lively conversation and easy gift. T-Pool / STOCK4B / Getty Images

Valentine's Day or weddings offer food crafters, restaurants and specialty food companies with foods or drinks based on legendary, or alleged, aphrodesiac foods such as vanilla, honey, ginger or rosemary, have an incredibly simple opportunity to appeal to gift givers:

  1. It's easy to make a gift basket full of foods made by you or other food companies. Add in wine or liquor, and your basket's romantic appeal (and aphrodesiac effect) only grows.
  2. Include aphrodesiac food recipes or creative usage suggestions.
  3. Market your "love basket" as a unique interactive gift that keeps on giving.

How Can You Turn Valentine's Day Into a Buying Event?

As you've seen, most any food can be Valentine's Day-ized or packed into a gift basket for instant appeal. More seasonal sales are only as far as your imagination and willingness to put your heart into a little creative re-positioning.

What you dream up for Valentine's Day can translate to wedding, anniversary and other romantic gift-giving occasions.