If you’ve been on TikTok recently, there’s a good chance you’ve scrolled upon the “gift basket” trend. The gist is pretty simple: a content creator assembles and decorates a themed basket of goodies — think fleece blankets, bags of snacks and candy, and self-care or beauty products, among others — and gifts it to a lucky recipient, usually as a festive, holiday surprise.
Around Halloween, “boo baskets” were double-tapped into the spotlight, and currently, “turkey day baskets” for Thanksgiving and “brrr baskets” for the winter holidays are on the up-swipe. Participating creators share the process of shopping for and assembling these baskets, as well as show off what’s in a basket they’ve received.
I have mixed feelings about the trend, but I’ll begin with what I like about it. The videos themselves are pretty entertaining. There’s something about watching people buy and open gifts that’s piqued my interest ever since “What I Got for Christmas” videos took 2010s-era YouTube by storm. Maybe it’s the joy of virtually carting around Target with the creator, grabbing item after item without actually spending any money myself. Or perhaps it’s the selfish fun of pretending that the basket is being put together just for me. Wouldn’t I love some festive fuzzy socks, a bag of dark chocolate, and a variety pack of lip balms? I’m fascinated in an I-can’t-believe-this way by the elaborate and expensive gifts some creators manage to tuck into these baskets. AirPods, UGG boots, full-size perfumes — you name it, it’s probably been basketed. I start wondering to myself what I’d put in a “brrr basket” of my own and humor the idea of heading to the store to get started on one.
But maybe it’s time to take a step back. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, the pressure to spend money on gifts skyrockets. It’s worth considering the role that online trends in particular play in perpetuating this consumerism. Perhaps, even if just a little bit, the “gift basket” trend reinforces the idea that a meaningful gift has to be something tangible; that the more stuff — or the more expensive stuff — given equates to more appreciation the giver has for the recipient. When I look at the “brrr baskets” on my TikTok feed, I can’t help but notice that — as cute and perfectly organized as they might be — many lack a certain personal touch to them. They are, by principle, a collection of items. It’s almost as though TikTok has made putting together a gift basket less about the act of gifting and more about keeping up with a trend — a competition to see who can fit the newest iPhone model somewhere in between today’s most popular insulated water bottle and a lifetime supply of gum.
My final verdict on the trend? The pros certainly have the potential to outweigh the cons. Assembling a collection of several smaller items seems to eliminate the stress of finding the perfect, larger present for someone. Thinking about making your own “brrr basket”? Shop conscientiously, choosing items that your special person is guaranteed to love or can easily exchange — or recycle! — if not. See if you can find a way to incorporate handmade items or goods from small businesses, too. With some creativity and a personal touch, the “brrr basket” can be a fun way to surprise that special someone, and above all, show that you’re thinking about them.
Vera Sablak is from Concord, Mass. Her majors are art history and biology.