Admit it, we all love busting open a gift basket to see what surprises they hold. There’s something about placing everyday items from apples to socks in a basket arrangement that make them all the more appealing.
Themed baskets are even more fun, and some fandoms just lend themselves to Christmas and holiday magic. Harry Potter, Doctor Who, all things Disney, and even Star Wars are good examples.
What about those whose fandoms don’t fit the “holly jolly” of the season? Can The Punisher or Kingsman still emit warm Christmas fuzzies, if presented in a nice gift basket?
Absolutely. Let’s build some baskets!
Before you get started, here are some quick tips for optimum basket-building:
- When including books, especially larger cookbooks or hardbacks, a square or rectangle basket is easier to work with than a round or oval one. Think “square peg in a round hole.” I prefer baskets with deeper walls for book giving.
- If your basket includes food of any kind, even treats with a long shelf life like candy, make sure to keep the basket away from pets. If they’re anything like my dog and cat, they can sniff out a box of crackers under cellophane at 100 paces and make a mess out of that basket. Put it up and out of the way to avoid pet shaming. Preferably, these baskets are best given at a time or event when the recipient can open them right away.
- Work within your budget. You don’t have to include a bunch of items in basket to create a fun theme or gift. Three our four simple gifts given together can still capture the spirit of a fandom. This includes the baskets featured in this post. I’ve included enough items to help you pick and choose your favorites. You don’t have to purchase every item listed.
- Presentation goes a long way. Even with just a small number of items, you can make something meaningful just by the way it’s presented. I recently created a Die Hard gift basket idea to go with the new illustrated Die Hard book by Doogie Horner. If you were to just give the book as gift with a Twinkie or stuffed bear, it would still have look like you put some thought into it.
Now that you have the basics, try these three fandoms ready for their unlikely gift basket makeover:
The Punisher Book Lover’s Basket
Netflix’s The Punisher series was a dark and violent look inside the tragic life of Frank Castle, but it also included one of best read cast of characters on air. They read a diverse array of classics, contemporary bestsellers, essay collections, social commentary, and more that wouldn’t be caught together on most book shelves. The great thing about this basket is you could buy new books or raid a used book store and save some money.
Stencil The Punisher’s logo, like this one from Free Stencil Gallery, onto a black basket using white acrylic paint and fill it with the eclectic collection of books featured in the series.
Books read by Castle included:
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls: Feminism, Popular Culture and the Posthuman Body by Kim Toffoletti
Books read or cited by other characters include:
- The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, read by Microchip’s wife, Sarah Lieberman
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, read by Billy Russo (Jigsaw)
- The Book of Proverbs (King James Version), quoted by “Gunner” Henderson. Yes, this is part of the Bible, but can be purchased on its own.
Finally, add a good Punisher collection. There are a lot to choose from since the character has been around since 1974, but Garth Innis’s Punisher Max collection has a lot of semblance to the spirit of the Netflix series, and available in trade paperbacks.
Round out this collection with a nice cup of “Punishment Served Hot” tea from Adagio Teas (samples tins are only $5) and some Soflete Strength and Stamina “Fit to Fight” coffee blend from Black Rifle Coffee Company ($15.99 for 12 oz, with portion of cost supporting veterans’ causes). Don’t forget to include a Punisher coffee mug, for a cozy afternoon of reading and reflection. There’s a cool online exclusive skull mug from Hot Topic that will do well, but it costs $22. I’ve run across a Punisher mug for less than $5 at Walmart and it looks good.
Sam and Dean’s Retro Road Trip Basket
Supernatural has had an amazingly long run, which is still going on, so it’s hard to find something new a Supernatural superfan doesn’t have. Also, I may be a bit old fashioned, but I don’t really like giving pentagrams as holiday gifts (yes, I know it’s a demon catcher… I’m a fan of the show, too). When you think about it, though, Supernatural is also one of the greatest, weirdest, and most fun buddy road trip shows every created.
For the Supernatural fan who has everything, get them ready for the next retro-inspired road trip adventure.
Start with a simple picnic basket and add a bow in a plaid pattern (a Winchester fashion favorite) and a small set of black angel wings as embellishments. These can be found with doll accessories or floral arrangement embellishments at craft stores. Make your own out of felt paper, if you want to get crafty. Fill it with:
- Supernatural: John Winchester Hardcover Ruled Journal. One of the newer additions to the Supernatural arsenal of licensed gifts is this recreation of John Winchester’s Journal, with all kinds of pull-out extras like a Mystery Spot brochure and news clippings. Runs around $40.
- You can also include a copy of Supernatural: Bobby Singer’s Guide to Hunting with this for some lighter, “idjit”-proof information for would-be hunters. You can find the paperback for around $10.
- AMT 981 1967 Chevrolet Impala Plastic Model Kit. For some Supernatural fans, the most loyal and lovable character is Dean’s vintage Impala, “Baby.” There are plenty of matchbox size models of the vehicle available, but why not build your own like the old days? AMT models has released a series of classic models kits with vintage packaging indicative of the era. Models aren’t cheap, and these tend to run around $30 at some places. If you don’t want to include this in the basket, it makes great gift on its own when given with some black Testors paint and glue.
- Haunted Highways: Spooky Stories, Strange Happenings, and Supernatural Sightings by Tom Ogden. This features some pretty eerie stories taking place on or around America’s main highways and back roads from Texas to Long Island. Hunters’ guides are essentials for the Winchester’s travels, but don’t forget a good read for everyday road tripping.
- Vintage Motel Signs 500 Piece Puzzle. What would become of the Winchesters if they couldn’t stay in skeevy motels with awesome room dividers? Here’s a puzzle celebration of some vintage motor hotels for under $15. Include this with a retro-style motor lodge style plastic keychain. Retro Planet has some for around $4.50.
- Membership to the Pie of the Month Club. For those who want to really splurge, Amazing Clubs has a pie option for dessert lovers, with options of three months ($119) to a full year ($455). If this monthly treat is a too expensive an option, opt for a more reasonable vintage tin “Pie” sign from Retro Planet, and a retro diner cookbook. There are plenty of diner cookbooks out there of varying prices. I recommend The American Diner Cookbook by Linda Everett. Great stuff here, but we warned, it’s not for those who love healthy cooking.
- Road music. Include a good rock compilation featuring recognizable mainstays like “Carry on My Wayward Son” by Kansas or “Back in Black” by AC/DC, or much preferably, make your own mix of favorite music from this show. A good place to get ideas is “Dean’s List” of 50 classic rock songs used in the show compiled by Rachel Rumancek. Toss a few ’70s- and ’80s-style rock badges and pins of favorite bands for fun.
Everyone ready to hit the road?
Manners Maketh Man Well-Groomed Kingsman Basket
Despite a voracious amount of perfectly choreographed bloodbaths laced with a minefield of F-bombs, a Kingsman knows etiquette. Fun bit of trivia: the official Kingsman collection in London is in the Berry Bros & Rudd building, which was at one time a meeting spot for representatives from “Republic of Texas.” A Statesman would approve.
Unfortunately, much of the finer things in life are expensive, and this includes much of the items from the official Kingsman and Statesman collection from Mr Porter, with items ranging from $35 socks to a $3,650 smartwatch. As drool-worthy as some of these items may be for Kingsman fans, not many of us can afford to shell out more than $100 for a fob key chain.
This doesn’t mean we can’t put together a nice Kingsman-inspired basket for that won’t cost a King’s ransom.
- Start with a black faux leather or plastic office waste basket and place a single Kingsman symbol sticker on it. There are plenty of Kingsman and Statesman designs that can be found on RedBubble, many for around $3.
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle Target gift set with Whiskey Stones. I normally wouldn’t suggest a retailer for a Blu-ray purchase, but Target’s exclusive gift set of Statesman whiskey stones is too perfect for a Kingsman gift basket.
- Other exclusives for the movie include an Eggsy Funko key chain from Walmart or comic art SteelBook cover from Best Buy, if you’d rather go in that direction. For those needing to catch up on The Kingsman, a 2-Movie Collection is also now available for $24 on Amazon.
- Statesman Bourbon Whiskey. Yes, you can buy a bottle of Statesman whiskey. Old Forester has created an exclusive Kingsman-inspired Statesman Kentucky bourbon whiskey, for $59.
Now, where are our manners?
- Etiquette books.
The earliest use of the phrase “Manners Maketh Men” goes back to a Latin textbook, The Vulgaria, written in the 1500s by William Horman. Since finding a good copy of this text isn’t easy and certainly not cheap, there are plenty of other etiquette and manners books available, including recent republications of 1800s etiquette guides: The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette: A Manual of Politeness from a Gentler Time and The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette: A Manual of Politeness from a Gentler Time by Florence Hartley (the latter written under the name of her male alter ego, Cecil B. Hartley).
There is one manners book that seems to be tailor-made for inclusion in a Kingsman basket, especially those familiar with the dialogue of the movie and the comic: Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck by Amy Alkon. Unlike Hartley’s books, Alkon appeals to the sensibilities of modern situations for today’s less gentler times.
- Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory. The classic legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is a good read as Kingsmen are named for the famed knights.
Round out this basket with a black umbrella with a brown hook handle, a pair of horn-rimmed sun glasses, and a little plush toy of a pug or Cairn terrier. You wouldn’t want to forget poor little JB or Mr. Pickle.
Finally, there would be no Kingsman fandom without the original graphic novel by Mark Millar, illustrated by Dave Gibbons. A copy of the collected issues of this original story is a must for this basket. This will get readers in the mood for a future Eggsy adventure, Kingsman: The Red Diamond, coming out April 2018 by Rob Williams and Simon Fraser.
This holiday season, whatever your fandom, get creative and think outside of the box… and into the basket.