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Sunday, November 6, 2011


I’m taking a bit of a crafts break today and have invited author Beth Groundwater to do a craft related guest post. Beth writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series and the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures mystery series To learn more about Beth, visit her website.  -- AP

When Anastasia Pollack invited me to be a guest blogger on Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers, I decided that I’d provide a very different kind of recipe, one for a gift basket, since I write the Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series. The first book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series, A Real Basket Case, was originally released in hardcover and large-print in 2007 and was a finalist for the 2007 Best First Novel Agatha Award. It is being re-released by Midnight Ink in trade paperback and ebook this month, complete with a jazzy new cover.

Some important things to keep in mind while designing a gift basket are to stimulate all the senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight), to pick one main color and two complementary accent colors and use them throughout, and to tailor the contents to the recipient’s interests. Here I assume that you’re making a gift basket for a friend who loves mysteries.

Recipe for a Mystery Lover's Gift Basket

Color scheme:
black, red, and white/gray

black-painted basket, bucket or box, with a lid or handle sticking up, from which you hang some spider webbing

dried Spanish moss or red-dyed tissue paper, paper shreds, or wood shavings

Mystery book(s). In keeping with the gift basket theme, I recommend my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery books, A Real Basket Case and To Hell in a Handbasket.

CD of eerie music such as Mystery Movie Scores or Mystery Sound Effects

Pocket-sized mystery party game or travel Clue game

Movie DVD: Clue, Mousetrap, Alfred Hitchcock or Sherlock Holmes movie, or movie collection (Mystery Classics: 50 Movie Pack)

Chocolate/bubble gum coins or other mystery-related chocolate shapes such as blood drops, knives, or guns (see http://www.chocolatepen.com for a sample vendor)

If your recipient is a tea drinker, include an antique tea cup and saucer, a selection of teas, and a tea cozy, in keeping with a cozy mystery genre theme.

And an assortment from:
Bookmarks from mystery authors

Magnifying glass

Pair of play handcuffs and/or sheriff's badge

Rubber knife or plastic pistol

Glasses, nose, mustache disguise

Spy Gear toys from http://www.wildplanet.com

Skull-shaped/logo item: tealight candle holder, squeeze ball, notepad, etc. (see http://www.orientaltrading.com/)

Bottle of stage blood from Halloween/theatre costume/makeup supply store or make your own (see http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howtos/ht/fakeblood.htm)

Thanks for stopping by today, Beth! I recently won a cupcake gift basket at a raffle. What a treat that was! I love making gift baskets and hope some of our readers will now enjoy making them, too. -- AP 


Liz said...

Need to save this for next Halloween.

Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Liz,
Yes, it would also make a great Halloween gift basket.

Morgan Mandel said...

Great ideas for the basket. I need to think one up myself for a conference. This gives me some kind of idea of how to go about it.

Your book cover is cute. They always are!

Morgan Mandel

Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Morgan,
I'm glad I could help with some gift basket ideas!

As for my covers, I've been pretty pleased with the covers from all of my publishers, but I think the Midnight Ink art department does an exceptional job.

Esri Rose said...

Wow! I might have to give myself a basket like that. :)

Beth Groundwater said...

LOL, Esri! I think a lot of us mystery writers would like a gift basket like that. :) We're all mystery readers, too, after all.

E. B. Davis said...

You don't need to go any further for your Author basket at Malice, Beth. I'll bid!

Marja McGraw said...

I read your first book when it originally came out, and thoroughly enjoyed it. As for this blog, I wish I'd read it earlier in the year before I had to create a basket for a small conference.

Great ideas, and thanks for sharing!

Linda R said...

Beth, I love the new book cover even more than the original! Loved the book, too ~

Camille Minichino said...

You've practically done it for us, Beth! I'm printing this out and can see many variations for holiday gifts.

mollie bryan said...

I've never made a gift basket and have not given it much thought until now, but there's an artfulness to it. Now, I'm going to have to give it a go! Thanks!

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks for your comments, E.B., Marja, Linda, Camille, and Mollie!

E.B., the only problem for me with Malice baskets is transportation. I fly in from Colorado, so I can't carry much with me.

Marja, I hope you can use the ideas for a basket you make in the future!

Linda, I'm hearing from a lot of people that they like this new cover better. It's more fun, I think.

Camille, I'm glad to know I've helped give you some holiday gift giving ideas!

Mollie, I encourage you to give it a try. Gift baskets don't have to be works of great art. If the contents show how well you know the recipient and their tastes, they'll be impressed by that!

Barbara D. said...

Beth, thanks for the great ideas. I think I'll try gift baskets for Christmas this year. I really like your cover too. My friend & I who are cozy mystery fans both agree the cute covers on cozies are what attract us in the first place. I'm putting your book on my Wish List :)