If a friend or loved one has recently suffered a loss, sympathy gift baskets can be a meaningful way of expressing your condolences and providing support. Sympathy baskets are available from many florists and gourmet food retailers, but you can also make your own if you’d like to personalize your gift. Read on for some ideas for condolence baskets.
Include Simple Meal Ingredients
During a time of loss, many people have difficulty with everyday tasks like cooking. That’s why gifts of casseroles and other comfort foods are commonly given to grieving families. While you can certainly create sympathy baskets that include already prepared meals, you might want to put together a basket of ingredients and a simple recipe that can be prepared easily. For example, you might include pasta, a container of homemade spaghetti sauce, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and garlic bread for an easy to prepare meal. Other foods, such as a cooked ham or turkey, can be kept in the refrigerator and eaten over several days or as needed.
If you’re putting together condolence gift baskets yourself, then you may be able to include more perishable ingredients than might be found in a store-bought or other pre-made basket. Fresh ingredients may also be a welcome change for the family from heavy casseroles or frozen meals. The idea is to keep the meal simple so that there is little effort required by the family, so keep that in mind when choosing a recipe.
Choose Comforting and Healthy Snacks
Rather than a full meal, you might want to include more snack items in your sympathy basket. Comfort foods like chocolate and cookies are often a welcome distraction, but you may want to limit how many unhealthy options you include. Consider fresh fruit, nuts, and cheese and crackers as an alternative to sugary treats. Some people find that foods high in sugar and fat leave them feeling sluggish, while healthier treats can provide more positive energy. If you know that the family likes a particular type of snack, make sure to include it.
Include Foods that Are Easy to Share
Many families hold visitations or receptions either before or after a funeral so that friends and other mourners can stop by to pay their respects. Consider including foods in your sympathy gift baskets that are easy to share with a crowd. You might include several types of cookies, for example, which could be offered with coffee. Other options include nuts, dried fruit platters, brownies, or other easy to serve desserts. Include a note with your condolence basket offering your sympathies and telling the family that they are welcome to share the gift with their guests.
In addition to – or in place of – food in your sympathy gift baskets, you may want to include a meaningful book or other memorial gift. There are a range of books available for dealing with grief, and if you’ve found one that’s been particularly helpful for you in the past, it can be a good addition. Alternately, you might want to include a book by an author that you know the recipient likes, even if it’s not directly related to their loss – your friend might appreciate the distraction. Other good options include books of poetry or biblical stories, if you think the recipient would enjoy them.
There are many other gifts and mementos that you may want to include in your sympathy gift baskets. Items like memorial stones, funeral wind chimes, and personalized picture frames can all be affordable and meaningful gifts to include.
Many people like to send flowers to honor the deceased, whether they are part of sympathy baskets or sent separately. If you’d like to include flowers in your basket, you should bring it to the family’s home rather than the funeral or other service. It’s also a very good idea to put the flowers into a vase or other container so that they are ready to be displayed and so that the recipient doesn’t need to worry about arranging them.
Don’t send flowers or bring them to a Jewish family that has experienced a death. For a week after the funeral, the family will typically be in deep mourning and may be observing a shiva. During this time, mirrors are usually covered and mourners should not be worried about their appearance or the beatification of their home or surroundings. Displaying flowers at this time, therefore, is generally not considered to be appropriate.