Once upon a tiwoodsmanme, a lovely maiden had an extra basket lying around the house, just collecting dust from sitting on her dirt floor. She also happened to have a stockpile of extra spices, fruit, dried venison, and other sundries. “What can I do with all these excess foodstuffs?” she wondered to herself. “And what about this basket that keeps tripping me up every day as I head out to milk the goats?”

One day, a handsome, strapping stranger came to town and proceeded to build a home just o’er the hill and across the stream. “I must welcome the  virile newcomer to town before witchy Esmerelda gets her claws on him,” the maiden thought aloud. “I wonder what I can take over to him as a welcome gift, as my baking is atrocious – not even the goats will eat my biscuits,” she muttered as she again tripped over that blasted basket. Ahhh…the basket!

And that is how gift baskets were born.

No – not really. Well, maybe!? In my thorough 5-minute search, I unearthed absolutely no information on the history of gift baskets … so voila … I fabricated a plausible explanation of my very own.

Gift baskets have come a long way since our merry maiden’s time. Gift basket services litter the Web now, and you can spend into the hundreds of dollars on a single basket.

One innovative holiday spin on the gift basket idea is creating themes for your Christmas stockings! Rather than fill your loved ones’ stockings with random goodies, you can single in on a particular passion, and fill the stocking with items that all relate to that pursuit.

Here’s my tiny stab at the no-doubt endless ideas for stocking themes:

  • gardening
  • wine
  • movies
  • foodies/gourmet cooks
  • handyman
  • high-tech
  • swimming
  • golf
  • baseball
  • tennis
  • sports fans
  • college alumni
  • metaphysical
  • religious/spiritual
  • music
  • dogs/cats/horses/animals
  • travel
  • letter writing
  • journaling
  • teaching
  • nature
  • bird watching
  • exercise
  • patriotic
  • ethnic
  • political

In case you’re still not convinced a themed stocking is a good idea, here are a few reasons to consider it:

  1. A themed stocking will save you time, because you can probably find all the “stuffers” in a single location, preventing the need to drive from store to store.
  2. Themed stockings can be made in a variety of sizes and price ranges, so they flex to fit your budget.
  3. A themed stocking will demonstrate to your loved one how much you care, because you personalized their gift.
  4. A themed stocking makes a great present for that difficult-to-buy-for person who has everything.
  5. You don’t have to wait till Christmas to give one – a themed stocking works for any occasion, year-round.
  6. Let’s face it – they’re fun to make!