Sometimes it's hard to find a good gift for friends or family members who live far away, and flowers aren't always appropriate. Gift baskets present a great alternative: They contain a variety of interesting and sometimes unique items, are attractively designed, and can ship just about anywhere in the world. That also makes them a great idea for impressing a new client or business associate. As they've become increasingly popular, gift basket services have sprung up online, but not all services are created equal. Each has its own specialties, shipping policies and products.
We've examined some of the best online gift baskets resources. While we've found Harry & David, GiftTree and GiftBaskets.com to be the top gift basket companies, all of these companies offer a wide variety of products and good customer service, plus flexible shipping and delivery options. In addition, if you're looking for ideas on gift baskets and gift-giving, check out our articles on gift baskets.
Nearly every gift basket company offers baskets suitable for any occasion, such as a new baby, the loss of a loved one, a marriage or just because. However, companies specialize, offer different products, have different prices and rules for shipping, and, above all, differ in their websites, which affects how easily you can find that perfect gift.
The easier you can find an item and learn the details about it, the easier you can make a choice you're confident about. Some sites have search bars that bring up appropriate suggestions for baskets, as well a sort function to let you organize the finds by price or other features. We awarded points for product pages that let you zoom in on images and read customer reviews of those items. Some companies let you upgrade their standard baskets with additional items, and a few even let you choose from their inventory to design your own basket – a nice feature if you want to get creative or have someone with particular interests. In case you aren't sure a basket is the right choice, some companies offer gift certificates as well.
Gift baskets aren't just for faraway loved ones. Many corporations favor them as a classy way to welcome a client or bid a faithful employee a happy retirement. Some also make great wine gift baskets or items for raffles in charities or publicity campaigns. Thus, we looked at what extras the gift basket companies offered corporations.
Some gift basket companies also have products and baskets suited for special dietary needs, like kosher or gluten-free foods. While you might be able to get by with a generic fruit or chocolate basket for this, these companies include other items that recognize these particular issues.
You'll most likely be able to find a basket suitable for any common occasion on any of these sites – who can go wrong with snacks and a ribbon? – but many of these companies go out of their way to find specialty foods or create gourmet gift baskets specific to an occasion. Some dress up baskets with other items, like plush toys, lotions, gardening gloves or personalized keepsakes, to make them more occasion-specific.
Payment & Delivery
Sharing credit card information online can make people nervous, which is why we looked for services that are not only secure but have third-party verification from companies that specialize in internet security, like McAfee or Comodo. Some websites also offer other popular payment options, like PayPal or Google Wallet.
Considering many gift baskets contain perishable and temperature-sensitive food items, shipping and delivery must be a priority for any successful online gift basket service. We evaluated several factors when it came to each site's shipping and delivery options, including expedited and standard shipping methods available and specific delivery date options.
While all the sites we reviewed offer shipping to the continental U.S. (excluding certain baskets containing liquor), many do not offer international shipping, or shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or APO and FPO boxes. Most of these sites also list shipping costs associated with each delivery option.
Help & Support
Top-notch gift basket services offer customer service options to enhance your overall shopping experience. The websites that really shine in customer service offer comprehensive and detailed FAQs, store policies, and shipping and delivery information. They also provide customer support via email, telephone and, in some cases, live online chat with a company representative for immediate and personalized customer service.
There's nothing like getting a surprise delivered to your doorstep. Gift baskets are thoughtful as well as beautiful, making them a great choice of gift, especially for faraway friends and family. However, shopping for gifts should be fun for you, too. With the best gift basket websites, you and your recipient will both be delighted.