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I’ve been a long time proponent of using gift baskets as the perfect gift for any occasion.    Know someone getting married?   Get a gift basket.   Someone having a baby?  Get a gift basket.   Christmas time?  Get a gift basket.

Fortunately gift baskets are not a one size fits all.    One common style of gift basket are ethnic ones and Italian themed baskets are no exception.

You can buy premade gift baskets online at places like Amazon where you can see a variety of styles and prices to choose from.

Alternatively you can also choose to make your own gift basket.    To make one with an Italian theme, think of items which are frequently associated with Italian culture.

Ideas could be pasta bowls, pasta noodles, tomato sauce, garlic, olives, pepperoni, biscotti, cheese, etc.

Pasta bowls: These come in a variety of styles.   A common style is the kind you see when you go to an Italian restaurant.  The basic white color, shallow bowl, and over sized wide rim.   You can also find more colorful bowls in stores which have typical motifs with olives or fruit.

Pasta noodles: The most common are long noodles called spaghetti.   But you can also add in other styles such as ziti, penne, etc.   Pasta is inexpensive and you can get them for around $1 each.   To make a good impression, get a known brand like Barilla, or San Giorgio.

A quick note – if this is for someone who is not familiar with Italian culture or food, use short noodles which are easier to eat for a person who is inexperienced with eating long pasta.

Olives: Olives are so wonderful because they taste so good just by themselves.   Plus they are just impressive no matter how you look at it.   Italian olives are green olives, but you can get a basic Mediterranean mix which is a good idea.    Olives can be used in recipes like antipasto, or added to salads.

Cheese: Who can forget the cheese?   Italian cheeses are Romano, Asiago, and Parmesan.  I know there are a bunch of other kinds, but these are the most common.   If the person you are giving the basket for is not particularly fond of cooking, make sure to include a cheese shredder for the block of cheese.

Note – Get the cheese at the deli department at the grocery store.  Do not go for the Kraft brand of mozzarella.   You want the real deal.

Tomato Sauce: Ok, this can be disputable as to what kind to buy so be flexible.  Go with a trusted brand or get a brand of a popular chef which makes it more fun.  Alternatively you can also choose to just include an Italian brand of canned tomatoes if the person likes  to make their own sauce or would consider it fun to try it.

So there you have it – a quick and easy way to make an Italian themed gift basket.    Of course, don’t forget the basket, and you can add some more color by purchasing some Italian looking hand towels to include as well.

Have Fun!

Check out our section on pasta bowls which talk about the craftsmanship of truly authentic hand painted bowls from Italy!

www.simpleitaliancooking.com