Author Archives: Lise

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.

New Ideas Heading Your Way

More and new are two of my favorite words when it comes to gift basket products, but before I get to that, I have more news (see what I did there?) to share from the National Gift Basket Convention. Attending the event is inspiring enough, but this year I was honored to be on staff as one of a dozen instructors and teach a class to my fellow gift basket company owners. I also brought home third place honors in the Hotel & Hospitality design category. New products keep arriving, and we invite you to watch our unboxing Wednesday on Facebook. Until then!

Champagne & Chocolates $25

We’ve got Wine & Beer!

We beer you loud and clear! Wine not make our gift baskets more pun? That’s right, we now offer elegant selections of reds, whites, rosés, and bubblies, and craft beer from local Chicagoland breweries. You know us–we don’t stop there. We pair these new additions with delicious, sweet and savory snacks to complete the perfect basket.

We are adding new designs to the website everyday – if nothing catches your eye, give us a call!

Celebrating 20 years in Business

It’s been 20 years since I started this little business called BasketWorks, and I want to thank everyone who has been part of our success. This isn’t the Oscars, so I won’t name names; you know who you are.

But many of you might not know how BasketWorks got its start. I could see the dead-end sign at my bookstore job, and I needed something more flexible so I could take care of my then-toddler son and better manage my Crohn’s disease.

I had always wanted to own my own business, and I’d worked at a florist’s shop during college and graduate school, so I had some design experience. Since I’ve got a naturally artsy-crafty bent — and I’ve always wanted to own my own company — the gift-basket business grabbed my attention. I attended a conference, wrote out a business plan (and revised it several times) and went for it. BasketWorks was born in March 1997.

While I’ve received several awards for my basket designs through the years, I’m most proud of the work we’ve done to give back to the community, particularly the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce, where I received the volunteer of the year award in 2014.

To celebrate BasketWorks’ 20th anniversary, I crocheted 700 hearts for the Peyton Heart Project and sent them to clients and friends in our database. The Peyton Heart Project works to raise global awareness of bullying and suicide prevention, as well as to remove the stigma that envelops mental-health issues. These handmade hearts, which are left in public places, feature an attached note with a positive message to let people know that their lives matter.

This project is particularly important to me; I have long battled depression and people close to me have lost loved ones to suicide. If you didn’t receive a heart and would like one, please contact us with your snail mail address, and we will send it.

I love what I do for a living. I love helping my clients improve their business relationships, and I love making it easy for folks to recognize their friends’ and families’ important life events. Thank you for choosing BasketWorks for your corporate and personal gifts.
Lise & the team at    72dpi logo

It’s Earth Day everyday at BasketWorks

We recycle!

We recycle!

We understand that there is a given amount of wast from businesses.  Here at BasketWorks are always working toward making our business and processes as green as possible.   Things to know:

  • We have always used recycled packing peanuts, cut up styrofoam or cellophane scraps in the base of our baskets.   We accept clean packing peanuts and packing styrofoam from clients, friends and neighbors to use for this purpose.  Please feel free to drop packing peanuts or other reusable packaging materials at our offices!
  • We give away other items to keep them out of landfills.  Items that are regularly available for pick include:
    • empty wrapping paper tubes
    • cardboard boxes of various sizes
    • empty ribbon roll centers
    • ribbon and silk flower scraps
  • Cardboard that cannot be reused by other people is dropped at a recycling location.
  • We know that not everyone can use or wants to keep a basket.  Therefore we offer many of our designs in recyclable gift boxes or reusable containers instead of baskets.

Sweet Home Chicago gift package in new gift box!

Sweet Home Chicago gift package in new gift box!

Pasta basket in a collander

Pasta basket in a colander!







We are always open to suggestions as to how to be more green!  How are you green?


Enjoy the process

Recently I had the opportunity to bid on a big project – 3000 – 4000 pieces, which is really really big for me!  My response was ‘Wow!  Great!  This is going to be fun!”

Then I heard the kicker; we needed to turn this entire project, from proposal to shipment in 5 days.  OK.  I can do that.   (Not sure how I can do that, but that has never stopped me before, and I always get the job done).

I went into full court press on this one.  I talked to the client about my concept.  I called my vendors to check on immediate availability of product and supplies.  I talked to UPS about special pickups at a different location.  I found an immediately available location to rent for a week.  I estimated very carefully how long it would take an untrained person to put a package together to my standards, and therefore how long the project would take to complete and how many labor hours I would need in 3 days.  My spreadsheet was a thing of beauty.

Of course, I didn’t get the job.  I was very disappointed, because I was quite psyched for the challenge of it all.   But after a pause I decided I was o.k. with not getting the job. The client seemed very impressed with my ability to create a viable proposal in just a few hours and was happy with what I presented.   I hold onto the hope that there may be a future opportunity from that same client.  Even more important, I had a terribly good time in figuring all this out. It was like buying a lottery ticket – while I was planning and dreaming  I was really enjoying myself, even if there was no payout at the end.

And that is definitely worth the time invested.

Smiles all!