Author Archives: Lise

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

There are two things I’m quite familiar with: gift baskets and the mental health rollercoaster. In fact, these worlds intersect because many of our baskets have items aimed to pamper and reduce stress. 

I’m an open book when it comes to my experience with clinical depression, so mental health awareness and advocacy is near and dear to my heart. Since I like to indulge my readers with statistics, it’s important to note that millions of people are affected by mental illness each year: one in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness, and 17 percent of youth ages 6 – 17 experience a mental health disorder. 

This is serious stuff, and given the last excruciating 14 months, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month, may be the most significant one yet. 

Oh, What a Year

Not that I want to give 2020 any more attention, since I was happy to let the door hit it on the way out, but bear with me. 

According to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans experienced symptoms of depression from April through June of 2020 at a rate four times that of the same time period in 2019. Symptoms of anxiety saw a threefold increase. The American Psychological Association (APA) surveyed providers and found 74% reported that more patients are presenting with anxiety disorders than before COVID.

It sounds dire, I know, but there’s a silver lining here: people are proactively seeking help. That same APA survey revealed that psychologists are receiving more referrals, treating more patients, and experiencing fewer cancellations. Yes, people are hurting, but they’re also taking action to address their struggles like never before.

Helpful Resources

There are so many resources available to educate you on mental illness and point you in the right direction for treatment. Let’s start here:

If you want to read about my experience with clinical depression (and if you like ape metaphors), check out my blog article that was picked up by HuffPost called Gorilla on Your Back. I also gave a TED Talk-like presentation on the subject at my synagogue that you can view here

Mental illness is a pandemic that predates COVID-19, and the more we normalize the conversation, the better off we’ll all be. If you ever feel like talking about it, give me a call. I’m not a doctor, but I’m a good listener, and sometimes being heard can get you through the day.

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How to Make Mother’s Day Truly Your Day

Gee willikers! Mother’s Day is right around the corner. We have an important message for moms everywhere: you work hard, you sacrifice, so don’t be bashful about making this day all about you. It occurs once a year, and we’ll go out on a limb and say it’s been quite the doozy of a 13-month stretch. 

The point is that you come first on Mother’s Day, and you can hand-craft how you’d like even if (gasp!) you’d prefer some solitude. Don’t worry, your kids, husband, parents, inlaws, and whoever else in your sphere won’t fire you over it. 

Here’s how to make Mother’s Day truly your day. 

Design Your Day

Do you ever fantasize about what the perfect day would look like? Of course you do, but it always seems like an impossibility because of your daily duty and drudgery. Well, Mother’s Day is your opportunity to start with a blank canvass and design the morning, afternoon, and evening as you want. Pro tip: write it all down and go forth. 

Give Yourself Permission to Just Say No

It goes against the grain to not want to be with family on Mother’s Day, but if that’s what you desire then go for it. If getting together with family within pandemic parameters fulfills you, great, but don’t feel guilty saying no to your relatives, rejecting their invitations to brunch, lunch, or dinner. Tradition shmradition. When 32% of mothers say their mental health has gotten worse as a result of COVID, you are entitled to some me time on your day. 

Be the Queen of Your Castle 

“I love you, you’re perfect, now leave,” isn’t exactly how I’d articulate it to your spouse/partner and kids, but you can kindly request that you’d like the house to yourself for a portion of the day. Imagine having a few hours alone to just chill. Make sure, though, that you give your crew some advanced notice that they need to vacate the premises. 

Get a Room

When is the last time you had your own hotel room unrelated to a work trip? Even if it was yesterday, that doesn’t preclude you from booking a Mother’s Day reservation and spending the night. The possibilities are endless, including binge watching Netflix shows, getting lost in a book, or doing both while lounging in a cozy robe and feasting on room service. Staying at a hotel is low risk if you’re vaccinated, and you could always rent an Airbnb or Vrbo property if that makes you more comfortable.

We should note that we’re not trying to sway you one way or the other. Your perfect Mother’s Day may be one spent with family all day, but the main idea is that you have the freedom to experience Mother’s Day on your own terms because you deserve to.

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How to Choose the Right Gift Basket

Recently we’ve written about how people decide what gifts to give. A prevailing theme is anxiety over selecting the perfect kind. First of all, there’s no such thing as the perfect gift, because “perfect” is an unrealistic standard. Take that pressure of yourself and reframe it as picking a gift you believe the recipient will enjoy. 

We’re going to focus on gift baskets, something that we know a thing or two about. While they fall under a specific category, there’s a wide range of gift basket types and recipients, and below we discuss how to choose the right one for your clients  

Set a Budget

Showing your clients some love is important, but before going on a shopping spree, set a budget. It’s a good idea to plan for the year and the client type, since one kind of gift basket does not fit all. A good move is to also budget for prospects because sending them a gift is a gesture of goodwill and may lead to future business.  

Know Your Client 

You can’t go wrong with gourmet gift baskets featuring wine, chocolate truffles, spreads, nuts (maple smoked cashews anyone?) Italian sausages, and more sweets and savories–kind of like our (⚠️SHAMELESS PROMOTION ALERT⚠️) best-in-class, often imitated but never duplicated gift baskets that you can order here. The point is that you want to wow your clients, and a gourmet gift basket achieves that while being an extension of your outstanding customer service. 

However, to make the most impact is to know your client. Let’s say you work with a business in the wellness industry, a health-conscious basket with items like fruit and tea, might be the way to go. 

Think Beyond Food

Variety is the spice of gift basket life. Treats and vittles are great, but so are accoutrements that fit the theme and tie everything together. For example, if your client is a baseball fan (happy belated opening day), specifically a Cubs or White Sox fan, you can surprise them with a basket that has games, koozies and mugs, like these. This way, the basket combines food and drink with gifts that will last much longer after the former are digested, making them even more memorable. 

Can They Even Accept Gifts?

Not to be a party pooper, but some businesses have policies that prohibit receiving corporate gifts. The last thing you need is to invest the time and money into a large order only to learn that it’s been roundly rejected due to company fine print. Come to think of it, we probably should have led with this paragraph. 

There’s enough stress associated with running a business and keeping your customers happy, but with a little planning, you can easily shop for a gift basket that will make them feel even more valued. 

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Health Benefits of Red Wine

Recently, we wrote about the health benefits of dark chocolate, which sent positive shockwaves to our readership and blew your minds. We shined a light on the superfood qualities of the tasty treat, and people shouted from the rooftops, “I can eat chocolate and not feel guilty!” 

Well, we’ve got more good news, so hold onto your hats: red wine can be healthy, too!

Go ahead, grab a bottle of pinot, merlot, malbec, or whatever varietal you prefer, kick back, and read about how it can improve your health.

Caveat

Before diving in, we need to begin with the caveat that drinking too much wine is not healthy.  Wine intake should be governed by many factors, including health history, age, height, and weight. When in doubt, ask your doctor. 

Now let’s get to the good stuff. 

Red Wine is Packed with Antioxidants

Wine derives from grapes, and grapes contain many antioxidants. Free radicals, which are bad because they attack your cells, are warded off by antioxidants (who knew that a scientific process could sound like a political revolution?). The antioxidant cast features resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin and proanthocyanidins. It doesn’t matter that you’ve never heard of these and can’t pronounce them. What’s important is that respectively, they can help prevent heart disease, cancer, and dementia, and enhance the body’s response to injury, and combat inflammation and blood clots. 

Let’s now break down how the crimson drink lowers these risks. 

Heart Disease

Apparently, drinking one to two glasses of red wine per day may lower the risk of heart disease. All credit goes to those awesome antioxidants that do the heart good in the following ways:

  • Protect the lining of blood vessels in your ticker
  • Reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
  • Raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels


According to Healthline, “People who drink approximately 150 ml (5 oz) of red wine a day seem to be at about a 32% lower risk than non-drinkers.” 

But they are also careful to point out that higher rates of consumption dramatically increase the risk. 

Cancer

The jury is still out on the role resveratrol in red wine plays in mitigating the risk of cancers. More evidence in lab versus human studies bears this out. However, there are studies, including this one by New York’s Stony Brook University that found that imbibers showed lower risks of colon and prostate cancer.

Dementia

More good news: other studies reported that drinking red wine could prevent dementia. What makes this more interesting is the link to heart disease, as the findings note:

“Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Because vascular disease is associated with cognitive impairment and dementia, we hypothesised that alcohol consumption might also affect the risk of dementia.”

Skin in the Game

What about white wine? Red wine is healthier because of its grape skins. During the fermentation process, white grape skins separate, while red grape skills remain intact with all their antioxidants.

At the end of the day, moderation is the name of the game, and if you don’t drink alcohol, health experts recommend not starting at all. The bottom line is that if you play your cards right, you can enjoy your favorite glass of red while reaping the health benefits.

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Three Things You Need to Know Behind the Psychology of Gift-Giving

If you’ve ever wondered how people choose the gifts they send, you’ve come to the right place. Previously, we’ve written about moments that trigger gift-giving, and how giving makes you happier

We’ve taken it one step further in this blog post to share some research behind the psychology of gift-giving. 

“They study this stuff?” you may ask. 

Indeed they do. In fact, there are studies about everything to the point where it’s impossible to make one up. I’ll demonstrate: I bet there’s never been a study concluding that mosquitoes don’t like the musical stylings of the DJ, Skrillex. Except there has been, and we now know that the blood-sucking insects aren’t fond of the track “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites.”

You’re welcome. 

Back to gifts. Let’s take a closer look at the psychology that influences the generous folks who think of others. 

1) Picking Gifts for The Picky is no Picnic

Humans are nothing if not stress magnets, and we drive ourselves crazy seeking “the perfect gift” for people. Our stress ramps up when we shop for the picky among us. Science Daily summarized study findings on this and determined that often people would rather throw in the towel and “forget” to buy something altogether than struggle to find the right gift. 

That’s not cool. 

2) Gift Cards are a Safe and Effective Choice

Gift cards may be construed as impersonal gifts, and that’s the beauty of them. As the same article points out, “Gift cards, it seems, hit a sweet spot–they have the flexibility of cash, but are given and meant to be spent as gifts.” 

And spent as gifts they are. The majority of gift card-recipients treat themselves to something they normally wouldn’t use for with cash. These items are referred to as hedonic purchases because they often fall under the consumed-for-luxury-purposes category.  

3) It Feels Better to Personalize a Gift

Personalized gifts are kind, demonstrate empathy, and show that you’re an all around thoughtful person. To make them really count, though, put forth the effort to understand what makes the recipient tick.

Citing the lead researcher, the article mentions, “Givers tend to focus on what recipients are like rather than what they would like. This can lead them to gravitate toward gifts that are personalized but not very versatile.”

For example, if you’re a business owner searching for a personalized gift for a client who you know enjoys red wine, we might be able to help you with an elegant wine and cheese gift basket (wink, wink). 

It’s important to note that these findings are from one study, and if you’ve established a tried and true method of gift-giving, then stick to it. But it does pull the curtain back on how we make purchasing decisions, and hopefully this blog post will help make your process less stressful and more enjoyable. 

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Giving Makes You Happier

It’s better to give than receive is one of those platitudes that makes us roll our eyes. The main reason is that we don’t know if it’s actually true or why our lives are enriched by the act of giving. People say it, and we nod along because we don’t want to seem like a jerk if we disagree. 

It turns out that there is data supporting this cliche. It is better to give than to receive because it makes us happier. The proof is in the science, and there are studies with findings that will intrigue you. 

Let’s take a look.

Spend it on Someone Else

Back in 2018, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business put gift-giving to the test by conducting an experiment that asked: How would their own college students spend money that was handed to them, and how would this affect their levels of happiness? 96 students were randomly assigned to spend $5 every day for five days on themselves or someone else. 

Given the title of this blog post, it won’t surprise you that those who left tips or made online donations with the money reported feeling happier than those who took the money and ran. 

Not to be outdone by its regional rival, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management saw U of C’s 96 participants and raised them 406. In this experiment, the university worked with 502 individuals and had them play ten rounds of an online puzzle game, in which they earned 5 cents per round. Just like the other experiment, the subjects had the option of keeping their money or donating it. 

Here again, those who gave said they felt happier compared to those who didn’t. 

Giving Also Can Make You Healthier 

We don’t know how long those study participants sustained their levels of happiness, but there’s evidence suggesting that ongoing giving is good for your health. Who knew? 

This guy does. Philippe Tobler, author of the Swiss Study, A Neutral Link Between Generosity and Happiness, reports that people who give have better health. “Moreover, there is a positive association between helping others and life expectancy,” he says, “perhaps because helping others reduces stress.”

Does Receiving Make You Happy?

It does, but apparently any “new” happiness is short-lived and you return to baseline. In psychology this is referred to as The Hedonic Treadmill, when people return to a stable state of happiness following positive or negative events. 

For example, if you receive a gift basket from a well-reputed specialty retailer in Northbrook, you’ll certainly feel a lift. However, once the contents are consumed, you’ll likely revert back to your initial happiness state. You can always feel more elevated by paying it forward and surprising someone with the same or similar item. 

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with accepting and savoring gifts. Knowing that there’s a reward on the horizon gives you something to look forward to, and receiving an unexpected gift feels great. But you can’t argue with the strong connection between giving and happiness. 

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4 Benefits of Dark Chocolate

By now, you may be familiar with the term “superfood” and the most popular kinds:

  • Salmon
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Eggs Greek Yogurt
  • Beans
  • Walnuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Olive Oil
  • Tea
  • Quinoa 

We left one out: dark chocolate.

What now? Chocolate? Superfood? 

You read that correctly. Dark chocolate is on that list because it’s packed with nutrients and minerals that can make you healthier. Before we delve into that, it’s important to note the difference between dark and milk chocolate. 

While both derive from the cacao plant, milk chocolate is made with butter, sugar, and milk and contains small quantities of cacao, the healthy stuff. Dark chocolate is the opposite with less of the filler and more of the cacao. 

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of dark chocolate. 

1. Rich in Minerals & Antioxidants

Dark chocolate is chock full of nutritious minerals like fiber, iron magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. This may sound like a game of Periodic Table roulette, but this is the makeup of dark chocolate. The greater the cocoa percentage, the higher the concentration of these minerals. 

Dark chocolate is also composed of antioxidants–those compounds you hear and read in ads that are never explained–which discourage oxidation, a chemical reaction that produces free radicals that like to attack your cells. 

Compared to most foods, dark chocolate has an abundance of antioxidants. 

2. Anti-inflammatory Properties 

It seems that the bane of our healthy existence is inflammation. It makes the body vulnerable to many illnesses because it damages cells and tissues that protect us. Dark chocolate has strong anti-inflammatory properties that fortify our immune systems. 

In fact, the results of two recent studies concluded that people who consumed dark chocolate with up to 84% cacao, experienced a boost in their immune systems, and those with type 2 diabetes saw significant reductions in inflammatory biomarkers. 


Compared to other superfoods, dark chocolate has an 
abundance of antioxidants

3. Good for Cholesterol 

High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease. There’s good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). Dark chocolate is known to raise HDL and lower LDL levels because of its antioxidants. Remember those pesky free radicals? The antioxidants of dark chocolate helps cut them down.  

4. Lowers Blood Pressure

Eating dark chocolate may lower your blood pressure to a healthier level. High blood pressure or hypertension can be damaging to your heart, and dark chocolate decreases it while improving blood flow. In yet another study, people who ate moderate amounts of dark chocolate experienced enhanced vascular system function. 

It turns out that you can have your chocolate and eat it, too. Now, as with all foods, there are recommended serving portions to maximize the health benefits and to ensure you’re not defeating the purpose by consuming too many calories. Enjoy in moderation and bon dark chocolate-étit!

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Moments That Trigger Gift-Giving

Gift-giving is traditionally guided by occasions: birthdays, holidays, graduations, anniversaries, and more. Exciting as these are, the best kinds of gifts are the unexpected ones. 

You know the ones I’m talking about: the out-of-the-blue gift basket that magically appears on your doorstep, the box of gourmet cookies next to your Amazon packages, an e-gift card that shows up in your inbox, etc. 

It’s heart-warming, and the gesture forces you to ask, “What made them think of me?”

Let’s examine that by identifying three moments that trigger gift-giving. 

Appreciation for Someone Who Helped You

How good does it feel when you turn to someone for help, and they work with you to resolve a problem? That rush of relief and appreciation is unparalleled and often triggers the desire to express gratitude with a gift. The result is a two-for-one. The person who helped feels valued, and you feel fulfilled for giving back. 

What’s more, gratitude and giving are scientifically proven to be good for your health. A study conducted by NeuroImage concluded that, “…gratitude tasks work, at least in part, because they have a self-perpetuating nature: The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits.”

The Urge to Surprise  

File this under Just Because, Making Someone’s Day, and Thinking of You. The beauty of surprise gifts is that both the recipient and the giver get to experience the surprise. For the former, it’s obvious–out of nowhere, poof, a gift arrives. For the latter, a jolt of inspiration hits you and stirs the creative juices. 

A friend of mine recently lost his father, and in his eulogy, he recalled the memory of his father waking him up when he was 6-years-old and surprising him with a Stretch Armstrong doll. Immediately, I searched online, found a miniature version of the doll–the only kind available–and sent it to him. He was surprised in the best way. 

When a Friend Needs Encouragement

This last year has done more than enough to discourage us. The stress of the pandemic, economy, and divisiveness has at times made us feel down at best and spiraling at worst. A Friend’s pain is our pain, and sometimes a gift of encouragement can go a long way. 

One of my favorite examples of this came from a colleague of mine. Her friend was completely overwhelmed when the school year started, struggling to meet the needs of his kids who were at home e-learning and the demands of his job. The friend is an NBA fan and loves a message that his favorite coach expresses to his players during close games: Embrace the grind.

My colleague surprised her friend with a basketball paper weight with “Embrace The Grind” engraved. 

Summing it Up

Giving a gift for a special occasion is thoughtful and gracious, but catching lightning in a bottle with an unexpected gift idea elevates the act of gift-giving. 

And that can truly make a difference in someone’s life. 

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Your Safety is our Priority

John Lennon said it best: “Nobody told me there’d be days like these…

Strange days indeed.” We want you to know that we are thinking about you during the COVID-19 outbreak, and we are applying the following safety precautions and best practices:

  • CDC guidelines – We are adhering to the CDC’s COVID-19 protective guidelines, including stringent hand-washing, cleaning, and disinfecting 
  • Staff – We are applying professional and social distancing, and therefore Lise will be the only person in the office and filling orders
  • Deliveries – BasketWorks uses a professional courier for local deliveries, FedEx or USPS for nationwide deliveries.  If you have a preferred method for your delivery, please let us know.

These are challenging times indeed, and when we make purchases, we are making an extra effort to support small businesses. We encourage you to do the same.  

We’re all in this together (just not within 6 feet), and we’ll find a way through it. Be safe.

Scary Good Gifts!

Are you ready to take Halloween to the next level? Don’t you want to show your spirit with more than just a sad, mini Jack-o-lantern of mints sitting on your desk? Of course you do! At BasketWorks headquarters, we’re your Halloween advocates, creating treats and not tricks for the 4th most celebrated holiday in the US. Very few people take off work (unless it’s on a weekend, which it’s not this year), so scare surprise your customers or staff with Halloween gift baskets that will stand out.