Monday, May 23, 2016

Special Orders Don't Upset Us

Remember the lyrics to the Burger King jingle?  Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, etc.  Well, at Laurel Mountain Basket Co. we also know that tastes differ.

Our website is filled with gift baskets designed for a wide range of tastes and budgets but we know that even this wide assortment doesn’t include something for everyone.  That’s why we’re more than happy to work with our clients to design gifts that are specific to their need.

Most gift basket you see on our site and others are filled with chocolates, cookies and other “feel good” treats.  After all, a gift basket is supposed to lift the spirits and satisfying the sweet tooth usually does just that.  But there are some folks who just can’t enjoy a couple of cookies or crackers and dip without becoming ill.  I’ve discovered that more and more people are becoming gluten intolerant or have other dietary issues.

Thirty years ago I knew one person who had a gluten problem and twenty years ago I knew two.  Today several of my friends or their children are gluten intolerant.

I do have my own briefs about why so many are getting ill from common foods but I’m not a scientist so my opinion doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I do understand that gluten intolerance and other types of allergies do have a real impact on lives.  That doesn’t mean that a person who suffers from gluten intolerance can’t experience the joy of receiving a beautifully designed gift basket filled with yummy foods they can actually eat and enjoy.

We can design a gluten free gift basket for any occasion and have worked with clients to design baskets for birthdays and other celebrations, various holidays and to express get well or sympathy wishes.

So the next time you want to send a gift to a friend or family member who is gluten intolerant, you can send them a beautifully designed gift basket.  You just need to order it from a company that has years of experience designing gift baskets using products that are suitable for those with gluten allergies.  A company like Laurel Mountain Basket Co where special orders don’t upset us.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Can't Get That Here

Dom Perigon, Russian Tea Cakes, Pistachio & Almond Croccante and Truffle Oil are just a few of the items you won't find in our gift baskets.

I don't think many of the folks I know would be watching the Sunday game munching on Russian Tea Cakes and drinking Dom. Most folks I know, and I bet those you know too, are more of the chip and dip types. Not that they wouldn't enjoy a nice hot and spicy mustard with their pepper jack cheese and a three pepper cracker with their summer sausage, but you get the idea.

Years ago my husband managed a large warehouse operation. During the Holiday Season he would receive gift baskets from vendors and clients.

The first thing we would do when we opened one of those gift baskets was divide the contents into two piles. One pile was for “Who eats this stuff?” and the other was for “This looks pretty good”. I'm not a big fan of glazed roasted figs or Kalamata olive spread but give me any kind of cookie or chocolate and I'm your friend for life. Another thing about the contents in those gift baskets, by the end of the season , we would have a third pile consisting of all of the Starbrite peppermints.

I realize that sending gifts at the Holidays was a smart way to do business and that a busy executive didn't have time to personally select a gift for everyone on their list. It made sense that they would contact a local company or go on line, choose something in their price range and be done with it. I think the saddest thing was that I knew the gift baskets we received weren't cheap as far as cost but they looked pretty ordinary as far as presentation. Those gift baskets were what got me started in the business. I knew I could do better.

At Laurel Mountain Basket Company we create every gift as if we were personally sending it to our best client or our best friend. We fill our baskets with gourmet treats we know they would like. Sure, we like to surprise your taste buds with treats like yogurt covered cranberries but mostly your find high quality “simpler” items like Brent & Sam chocolate chip cookies or Ghirardelli chocolates. We also know that our clients work hard for their money so we work just as hard to give them the most value for their dollar.

Shopping local is a big deal for us and we are always on the look-out for new vendors, We have a great time attending Farmers' Markets and Craft shows making new friends and taste testing new product.

If you're looking for a gift basket with champagne and caviar, we can recommend a couple of places but if you are in the market for some down to earth, really good gifts for your friends and family, we can help.

Check out our website for samples of our work and give us a call at 413-527-1243 and we'll be happy to put together a gift basket just for you. Remember, consultations are always free and we can work with any budget.

Bon appetite,


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How Many Empty Coat Hangers Does One Person Need?

Where does it all come from?  A person sure can accumulate a lot of “stuff” in 30 years.  When we moved, over two years ago, I got rid of tons of “stuff”, so how come there is still a huge pile of boxes in the corner of my basement that are still unpacked?

I’ve read lots of articles about how to get rid of clutter.  Most of them tell how to prioritize things and get rid of those items we no long use.  Here are the steps they suggest:

1. Objectively look at an item

2. Decide one of three things about the item;
    a. Do you love it
    b. Do you use it
    c. Will you use it in the future.

3.  If the item doesn’t fit one of those three categories, get rid of it.

When we were moving and I had a house, a studio and a warehouse to clear out, the idea of packing was overwhelming.  The task became much easier when I broke it down into manageable pieces.  After all there is only one way to eat an elephant… one bite at a time.  By starting with a small area, like a kitchen drawer, closet or small room, I was able to de-clutter and pack everything without being overwhelmed.  It took days to clear out the drawers in my office desk alone but it got done.

Don’t second guess yourself.  I made three piles.  They were, the “definitely keep it” pile, the “definitely get rid of it” pile and the “not so sure” pile.  The key to successfully using the “not so sure” pile is to go back the next day and make a decision as to which of the other two piles an item belongs and deal with it.

I also had three “getting rid of” piles.  One was for items I was going to donate to Goodwill or other charitable organization, another was for items I was going to tag sale, and the third was for items that were headed for the landfill.  I made regular trips to Goodwill and the landfill which helped keep reduce the clutter level in the house.

Be ruthless with the “get rid of it” piles.  Yes, there will always be something that you got rid of that you find yourself looking for a year later.  Soon after we moved I bought a can of tomato juice and after I got home, realized I didn’t have a can opener.  We did manger to find one in my husband’s tackle box but I did panic for a couple of minutes.

Those boxes in the basement.  I started going through them recently and since the three pile system worked fairly well before, I’m using it again.  Not many items are falling into the landfill pile but the tag sale pile is growing.  This house is much smaller than our old house so there isn’t enough room to display all of the items I love. The “definitely keep” pile has things like photo albums, books and things like the pretty tea pot that belonged to my grandmother.  I will definitely keep them even if their new home is in a box in the basement. 


P.S. We've moved.  Check out our new website at

Friday, May 6, 2016

Fouls To Felons

What do a baby horse and a home invasion have in common?

Answer:  They are just two of the reasons we make gift baskets

As I was going over the accounts to send to the accountant, I was reminded of the variety of projects we worked on over the years.  Most were for occasions you’d expect like the birth of a child, death in the family, birthday, get well and of course Christmas.  We’ve designed gift baskets for corporate events like annual board of directors’ meetings and regional sales meetings and with schools providing “final exam survival kits” for their students.

We’ve designed some very interesting gift baskets too.  There was the $600 gift basket that included gift certificates to several restaurants, movie houses and golf courses as well as some sexy lingerie.  I was given a list and a budget and went on a shopping spree.

We have a line of pet gift baskets and make a lot of baskets for dogs and cats.  We have even made some for small animals like ferrets and bunnies but the most unusual one was the welcome baby gift basket for a horse.  Not for the owner but for the horse herself.  Our inventory was low on “horse” gifts so this also required a fun shopping trip.  A straw cowboy hat became the “basket” and we filled it with things like a curry brush, shampoo and mane tamer and a package of carrot and apple cookies.  I don’t know what the horse thought but the owner loved it.

Not all baskets are for happy occasions.  In fact, sympathy baskets are a big part of our business.  The most emotionally difficult delivery I’ve made was to an elderly man who had just lost his youngest son.  When I arrived at his home he was sitting alone under an apple tree in his yard.  His wife and daughter-in-law were out taking care of one of the many things that need to be taken care of when planning a funeral.

I handed him the gift basket and offered my own condolences.  He placed the gift basket on a table and did something that made my heart break.  He hugged me and began to cry.  When he was finally able to compose himself I asked if he would like me to sit with him until his wife got home.  He said he was fine and I left.  I cried all the way home

Oh, the home invasion.  An employee of one of our clients was the victim of a home invasion.  It was horrible!  Not only was their home broken into the occupants were beaten.  Our client wanted to show support and sympathy for what the employee and his family were going through.

As you can see, there are lots of reasons why people send gift baskets and at Laurel Mountain Basket Company we take each one seriously.  We go the extra mile to make sure your gift says just what you want it to say.


P.S.  To see samples of our work, go to our website at

Sometimes Even The Professional Needs Professional Help

I’m the gift giving “expert”.  Clients come to me when they need a gift and have no idea of what they want.   At Laurel Mountain Basket Company we believe we have the knowledge and experience to help our clients choose gifts appropriate for every occasion.

Imagine how weird it felt when I needed a gift and didn’t have a clue what to give.

Vic and I are invited to the wedding of a woman I know but not all that well.  She is a widow and it is a second wedding for her fiancĂ© also.  They are both in their 60’s and have everything they need for their home.  Unlike some brides, she didn’t “register” anywhere so that wasn’t an option. 

Time to call in the professionals.  One of the great things about the gift basket business is that it is filled with some very smart people who are willing to share their knowledge and experience.  We belong to a couple of industry groups and over the past 17 years, I have developed wonderful relationships with some amazing people.

With a click of the mouse, I was able to get some great advice.   After consulting with the professionals, I realized I had the answer the whole time.  All I needed to do was follow the Laurel Mountain Basket Co formula.

1.  Who is giving the gift? Seems obvious but we all fill many roles.  Will gift be sent from our company or from us personally?

2.  Who is receiving the gift?  What is our relationship?  Close friend, family member, co-worker, business associate?  The type of gift should reflect the relationship.

3.  What’s the occasion?  In this case, it’s a wedding but what kind of wedding?  Is it a black tie formal or a back yard bar-b-que?

4.  What’s the budget?  This is always an important consideration.

It didn’t’ take long to realize that I did know something about the couple that made choosing a gift easy.  They love to cook and they love Italian food so I designed a pasta gift basket especially for them and since I know she likes wine, I added a nice bottle of red.

When you need a gift and don’t know what to do, just ask a professional like the ones at Laurel Mountain Basket Co where gift giving won’t make you a basket case.


P.S.  To see samples of our work, go to our website at

Your Next Challenge

What do all these things have in common?

Run a marathon
Visit a foreign city
Dance in the rain
Learn another language
Learn to play an instrument
Swim with the dolphins.

Answer: They are all items you will find on many Bucket Lists. Don't have a Bucket List? There are several sites you can visit if you want to start one but don't know where to start. One list I visited had 10,000 ideas. The list was comprised of items from actual Bucket Lists submitted to them.

A Bucket List is nothing more than a goals list and like a goals list; it won't happen without some effort on your part.

I don't have a Bucket List but if I did, here are a few things that would have been on it that I could check off.

Go to college. This was a very big deal because my father didn't believe in college for women. No one in his family had gone to college. His sisters were both successful, one taught at a cosmetology school and the other was an executive secretary at a huge corporation. So why bother going to college.

I did manage to win him over and I got to go to college. It was a wonderful and rewarding experience. I did so well that when my sisters also wanted to go to college, he was 100% on board.

Design and build my own house. Okay, so I didn't do the little line drawing or nail pounding but I did paint the entire interior myself. It took over two years from meeting the Architect to moving in. It was an interesting and educational experience. I'm glad I did it once but once was definitely enough.

Own my own business. My grandparents owned a restaurant forever and my dad had his own auto body repair shop for several years. Even though I saw how had they had to work, I still wanted to own my own business. Laurel Mountain Basket Co has been in existence now for almost 20 years! I love what I do but I have to say my current boss is the toughest boss I have ever worked with.

Vic and I wanted to move to New Hampshire when we retired. We both love the mountains and the slower pace of northern New Hampshire. It was difficult leaving all of our friends and family and moving not only our home but Laurel Mountain Basket Co to a new location. It's been almost three years now and we absolutely love living here.

Elbert Hubbard (American writer, publisher, artist and philosopher) said, “A goal without a deadline is just a dream”. A Bucket List without effort is just a list on a piece of paper.

Want to run a marathon? Start training. I have a friend who wanted to run in a half marathon in support of the Cancer Society. She had lost her father to the disease and running in her father's memory was her way of honoring her father's life. She not only ran the half, she now participates in full marathons, triathlons and multi-day hundred mile bike rides, all in her father's memory and to raise money and awareness for the disease.

Want to visit a foreign city? Do the research, set a date and set aside a few dollars every week.

Some goals are much easier to reach than others, like dancing in the rain. The next time it rains, just do it!

Looks like it's time for me to take up my next challenge. I think this is going to be the most difficult one so far. I want to break 100 in golf. If you've ever played golf with me, you know that is going to be some challenge.

Love to hear what you've checked off you Bucket List and what your next challenge is.

List it and then go for it!


P.S Check out our new website at