DIY spa day gift basket

What do you get the woman who has everything – or the woman you don’t know very well? A spa day gift basket is an easy gift because everyone likes to be pampered. Tired moms, overworked teachers and dedicated friends all deserve some me time and the opportunity to relax and indulge in self care.

DIY spa day gift basket: Wicker basket with white spa products

Photo: Deposit Photos

Online, pre-packaged spa gift baskets start at $30 and can cost more than $100, especially if you have to tack on shipping fees. Gift certificates to salons can easily add up if you want to gift an hour-long massage or facial. Don’t bust your gift budget on these pre-made kits. It’s easy and much more affordable to put together your own homemade spa day gift basket. For this story, I made three spa day gift baskets, and it cost me a total of $5 because I found ways to fill each basket for free or cheap.

First, think about who would love a DIY spa day gift basket — and who might not. Then, consider which bath, body and beauty items you want to include in your gift basket, perhaps around a theme, such as bath time or pampering relaxation. I’ll share my tips on how to acquire gift basket items on a budget, and how to arrange everything in a basket for a gorgeous gift presentation.

Who would like homemade spa gifts?

DIY spa gift basket - woman relaxing in bath tub

Photo: Deposit Photos

Who wouldn’t like a pampering gift, thoughtfully put together by someone they love or admire? DIY spa baskets are ideal for moms, either for their birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah or other gift-giving event. Other appreciative recipients include:

  • Teachers, for holiday, end-of-year or Teacher Appreciation Week gifts
  • Friends and neighbors, as thank yous for doing you a favor or as birthday or holiday best wishes
  • Stepmoms, especially if you don’t know their tastes very well
  • Children, maybe even for a special mother-daughter at-home spa day

While this story focuses on women, don’t forget that some men love to be pampered, too!

When is a spa day gift basket not a good idea?

who would not like a spa day gift basket - woman with hands crossed to say no

Photo: Deposit Photos

A pampering gift is a great one to give someone you don’t know well, or a friend or relative you know loves bath and beauty products. But for certain special people, you might want to choose another gift. Here are some pitfalls you might run into:

She has allergies. Some people have very sensitive skin and can only use certain hypo-allergenic skin products. Or, they may be allergic to certain strong scents. If this is the case, you don’t want to give them scrubs and soaps, but consider a pampering box that focuses less on beauty products and more on relaxation items, like a back massager or a cooling gel eye mask.

She is picky about scents. Perhaps do a little digging before you gift your stepmom or best friend a basket full of scented soaps, essential oils and body lotion. She might detest fruity scents or musky ones, rendering your thoughtful gift useless. If you’re unsure, look for unscented or more neutral spa products.

She doesn’t take baths or hates nail polish. I have always preferred showering to taking a bath, so gifts of bath salts, beads, bombs and oils sit unused in my bathroom. Some people never wear nail color or dislike anyone touching their feet. If you can, ask some subtle questions to find out if the theme of your spa day gift basket is appropriate for your recipient.

But don’t worry too much. If the items aren’t a perfect match, your mom, friend or teacher can always regift the spa items. And she will still be touched by the sentiment behind your thoughtful and homemade spa day gift basket.

What do you put in a homemade spa gift basket?

A spa gift basket can be as big or as little as you’d like. You can hit up the beauty aisle for a fun assortment of gifts, such as body lotions and face masks, but it’s more fun to give your basket a theme.

If your mom loves lavender, you could do a gift basket themed around that scent. For kids, look for bubble bath and sparkly, fun-colored nail polish. For a man, try a fancy shaving kit with face and body lotions in “manly” scents. Or mix and match from the following ideas for gift basket spa items:

What to put in a DIY bath gift basket:

Spa day gift basket - Basket filled with bath and beauty products

Photo: Adam Black for Living on the Cheap

  • Fancy handmade or organic soaps
  • Bubble bath
  • Bath salts, bath beads or bath bombs
  • Body scrubs
  • Body lotion or body butter
  • Face masks
  • Loofah or shower sponge
  • Scented candle
  • Fluffy slippers
  • Hair towel or wrap

What to put in a DIY manicure/pedicure gift basket:

Homemade spa day gift basket - Basket filled with manicure pedicure items

Photo: Adam Black for Living on the Cheap

  • Manicure set with nail brush, file, cuticle pusher, nail clipper/scissors
  • Hand lotion
  • Foot scrubber or callous file
  • Nail polish and remover
  • Foot mask (yes, this is a thing!)
  • Foot soak or scrub
  • Toe dividers

What to put in a DIY sp day gift basket:

Spa day gift basket - basket full of at-home spa products

Photo: Adam Black for Living on the Cheap

  • Massage oil
  • Body lotion or scrub
  • Eye mask
  • Face mask
  • Muscle soak
  • Scented candle
  • CD of calming spa music
  • Bathrobe and slippers
  • Back or head massager
  • Fluffy towel

What to put in a DIY relaxation gift basket:

  • Nice chocolates
  • Herbal tea
  • Funny or inspirational book
  • Lip balm
  • Hand lotion
  • Scented room spray or essential oil diffuser
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Bath, body, or massage options

How can I create a DIY spa basket on a budget?

Spa day gift basket: Items for bath basket

Photo: Adam Black for Living on the Cheap

If buying all of that stuff sounds expensive – or unnecessary – I found plenty of cheap and even free ways to fill up a spa basket.

Buy Nothing Spa Basket

For this story, I asked the members of my neighborhood Buy Nothing Facebook group to donate their unwanted spa products, and I was  inundated with gifts. Everyone has been gifted that lotion whose scent they don’t like, bath salts when they don’t take baths and way too many candles. They’re happy to donate these unused products to someone who will use them.

Go through your own stash of bath products to find fancy soaps you’re not using or little bottles of lotion from hotel stays. Ask friends, neighbors, or family. You’ll be surprised how many lovely spa gifts for your basket you can get for free.

Dollar Tree Spa Basket

Dollar Tree and other dollar stores all have beauty aisles filled with nice soaps, lotions, candles, manicure and pedicure supplies. You can buy 10 items for $10, which is a very nice gift and well within your budget. Around holidays, like Easter, you can even find baskets there, though you might need to spray paint the bright green and yellow baskets a more earthy hue for your spa gift. They also sell ribbons and crinkle cut paper shreds for basket decorations.

DIY Spa Gift Basket

If you like DIY projects, you can make candles, body scrubs or bath bombs for your homemade gift basket instead of buying them. You might have to spend money on the ingredients, but you can recycle glass jars to store them. These ideas are more cost effective around the holidays, when you can whip up a big batch of body butter and then gift them to everyone on your list.

Homemade spa day gift basket - coconut lime mint sugar scrub


Try these recipes to make your own spa products:

Bath bombs – Wrap them in cellophane gift bags and tie with a ribbon.

Sugar scrubs – Save up small glass jars to put your homemade body scrubs in.

Body butter – Just make sure they know this butter isn’t edible!

Bath salts – You can whip up a batch of bath salts in under 10 minutes.

Lip balm – You’ll want to save up your old Chapstick tubes for these gifts.

Find more ideas in our story on easy spa treatments you can do at home.

How do I put together a spa day gift basket?

Homemade spa day gift basket - Several spa gifts arranged on table - eye mask, socks, body scrub, candle, face mask

Photo by Adam Black for Living on the Cheap

You don’t need to be particularly crafty to create a homemade spa day gift basket. Just follow these steps:

Step 1: Assemble the items for your basket. Do your shopping or DIY magic, pick up items from your friends, and arrange everything on the table.

Step 2: Locate a basket. If you don’t have one at home or can get one from a friend, check craft and dollar stores for baskets. Get creative – a gift basket does not need to be wicker. You can use a paper gift bag, a metal bucket, a wooden box or a decorative tin. The key is to make sure the basket or alternative is big enough to hold all the individual gift items.

DIY spa day gift basket - pile of assorted wicker baskets

Photo: Deposit Photos

Step 3: Pad the bottom. For two of my baskets, I had so many items (or my basket was small enough) that I didn’t bother padding. For the third, I rolled up a small white towel to give the gift a decorative spa look and to raise up the gifts. You can also use tissue paper or paper shreds. (Don’t buy shredded paper – make your own!)

Step 4: Artfully arrange the spa gifts in the basket. To make each item as visible as possible, I positioned the larger bottles in the back, the candles in the middles, smaller soaps and bottles on the sides and in the front. I fanned out flat items, like face masks, in the back of the basket to make a rainbow backdrop. For a small number of gifts in a flatter container, you could nestle each item lying down, perhaps in a bed of dried brown craft grass or moss for that earthy look.

Step 5. Decorate your basket. I didn’t feel this step was necessary with my baskets – and more likely, I would ruin the look with my unskilled ribboning! But you might want to wrap a ribbon around the basket or attach a bow for a more festive look.

Step 6: Make a gift tag. At the very least, a gift tag lists the giver and the recipient. But why stop there? Consider adding an inspirational or heartfelt message, or even a spa day gift poem.

You don’t need to be a poet to up your gift tag game. I found printable tags with inspirational quotes, birthday wishes and Mother’s Day messages. Funny and heartfelt poems printed on colored or decorative paper is another way to personalize your gift. Print out or rewrite in your own handwriting a poem you find online, such as this pedicure gift poem. Or write your own, based on the items in your basket.

Here’s an example of a spa day gift poem for a mom on Mother’s Day:

To Mom With Love
Mom, you take care of us every day,
So we’d love to give you some time off to play.
Your body is tired; it’s time to relax it
With lots of fun spa gifts right here in this basket.
A brightening face mask will open your pores.
You can soak in the tub while we do your chores.
Bath salts and a candle will help you feel calm.
Your lips will feel better when you use this balm.
Enjoy your time off, but whatever you do,
Remember your family will always love you.
Happy Mother’s Day!

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