Rethinking the gift basket

Marketplace Staff Dec 22, 2006

Ethan Lipton’s “Gift Basket”


TESS VIGELAND: Excuse me, I was just munching on some cheese-flavored popcorn. Mmmm-mmm.

Came from a gift basket we got here at the office. We get a lot of those at this time of year, full of chocolates, popcorn, candy and the like. And although we can’t complain about a few extra sweets lying around the place, we started to wonder about how much it all costs. We turned to our friend futurist Andrew Zolli.

ANDREW ZOLLI: It turns out that all those boxes of sausages, clementines, wine and cheese and the rest of it is actually a $3 billion industry — with a B. So there are hundreds of thousands of gift baskets sent, if not millions of gift baskets sent, every single year in the United States.

Those millions of gift baskets are great, but as we can attest here at Marketplace, a lot of it just gets thrown out. Andrew says there are alternatives.

ZOLLI: If you really want to show companies that you care about them, there are a whole bunch of other things you might do — ranging from making donations in their name to a solar electric light fund, or sending them a book on ways in which they can improve their environmental sustainability. And, of course, if you want to send a gift basket, why not send one to one of the troops in Iraq.

Regardless of how you choose to remind clients and colleagues of your importance this holiday season, the gift basket isn’t going away. Andrew Zolli pointed us to a song celebrating the corporate holiday tradition, and we thought we’d play you a little of Ethan Lipton’s “Gift Basket” to get you in the spirit.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.