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Gift Baskets for Christmas: 5 companies are put to the test

Consumer Reports ordered $100 baskets & had them delivered to see if what was shown online was delivered in real life.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Is it worth sending a gift basket this holiday season? Will, what you see online or in a catalog actually be what the person receives? Consumer Reports can help. It ordered 25 gift baskets from five popular companies to see which ones are worth giving.

Consumer Reports staffers evaluated the experience of ordering and receiving gift baskets costing about $100. The baskets were chosen from five companies: Gourmet Gift Baskets, Harry & David, Knack, Mouth, and Olive & Cocoa

Senders and recipients documented their experiences. CR found a wide selection of foods, like specialty pasta and premium sauces, chocolate delights, and high-end breakfast goodies.

Two companies, Mouth, and Knack, give consumers the option of creating a custom basket, and Knack and Gourmet Gift Baskets cater not just to food choice.

Olive & Cocoa’s wares came in a wooden box. Harry & David sent one order in a small re-usable trunk. Mouth wrapped up their goodies on a cheeseboard.

What if something in your order goes wrong? Harry & David was having a bad pear day; three of the four gift baskets CR ordered arrived with bruised fruit. When contacted, the company promptly sent replacement pears, and one person who requested chocolate instead received it the following day.

In the end, senders and recipients were most happy with Mouth’s gift basket, citing the ability to create a custom gift. Packaging was snazzy but more of the natural brown-paper variety.

Knack was favored for its high-quality offerings at a range of prices. Giftees said the artisanal items made them feel special. But some senders grumbled about spending $10 extra for the non-optional packaging. The gift receivers appreciated the presentation.

So, is what you see what you get? None of the gifts arrived looking exactly like the highly styled web images. But nearly all the senders thought that what was delivered closely matched, and there were few substitutions.

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