Gift cards are not the last word in gift-giving. For a higher degree of creativity and personality, gift baskets can be the perfect solution. Easy to assemble and personalize to the recipient, a gift basket is an experimental playground for occasions, whether the need is for the holidays, a birthday, or even an end-of-year gift for a teacher. The first step to assembling the gift basket is---you guessed it--- the basket. Most craft stores sell a wide variety of baskets made of wicker, wire, or plastic, and in a wide palate of colors to suit any theme. Another resource for baskets is the secondhand store; chances are the local thrift shop has shelves full of wicker baskets for use by the gift-giver on a budget. For a personal touch, a can of spray paint can work wonders; silver or gold paint over a wicker basket adds a pretty shine to a holiday present. (Make sure to take necessary precautions to paint safely.) The next step to assembling a special and personal gift basket is choosing the contents. This is the giver's opportunity to showcase creativity, to coordinate the contents to a theme, and to demonstrate a knowledge of the recipient's taste. The possibilities are limitless. Consider some of the following ideas for your gift basket: Coffee and Tea---When sealed in air-tight containers, they stay fresh longer. Candy---Try putting it in glass jars for a polished, professional look. Books---Many pieces of literature come in pocket editions, the perfect size for a basket. Ornaments---A great addition to a Christmas gift. Music---Burn a mix CD of all the songs that remind you of the person for a sweet, personal touch. These ideas are meant to be a starting point for the basket, a point from which it can be further personalized to the recipient; there are countless more options that cater to the person's taste. For a woman who wears jewelry, a pair of earrings may be an choice; maybe a cousin would like a Swiss Army knife or a fancy personalized lighter. This is your opportunity to be creative and show how well you know the person who will be receiving your gift basket. Also, consider varying the sizes of the items; a larger item, like a pound of coffee, surrounded by a spread of smaller pieces will help your arrangement look deliberate and keep your gift basket from looking thrown together. Once you have the basket and contents picked out, start putting together the arrangement. It may be a good idea to lay some filler, like shredded paper, in the basket before the items; not only does this help them look nestled, it raises them up so that they can be showcased. Lay the items in the basket with any labels facing out. Add any finishing touches you'd like. Some people choose to wrap the whole basket in cellophane, some top it off with just a ribbon or a bow, and still others choose to leave it just the way it is. These are all simply helpful suggestions---the point is to express yourself. Just be creative, be thoughtful, and a beautiful gift basket will practically make itself.