How to make big baskets on little budget

Photo courtesy of Ava Dunwoody

By Ava Dunwoody | Editor-in-Chief

There’s nothing like the joy of taking in a “little,” but the stress of making the perfect baskets for basket week can sometimes overshadow it. Have no fear. Here are three tips from a self-proclaimed basket expert that will ensure your little will feel loved and spoiled this upcoming big/little season.

1. Shop smarter, not harder

One of my biggest concerns when it came to basket week was the cost. I had heard about people spending hundreds of dollars on baskets and while I wished I could, that just wasn’t in my budget. So what did I do? I went to Dollar Tree, Five Below and other discount stores to buy the bulk of my items. Snacks, candy, decorations, balloons, stuffed animals and more were all available at a reasonable price. I started shopping early (like, before recruitment) so I could spread out my spending and avoid breaking the bank all at once. That way, when it was time to pull everything out of my closet and put the baskets together, I was more ready than I thought and I didn’t have to buy as much. I do, however, recommend saving up for a few big-ticket items. I made sure each basket had at least one nice sweatshirt and a fun Delta Delta Delta item like a cup, earrings, key chains or flags from Spice Village, which were on the pricier side. When you balance out the high-cost and the low-cost items, baskets come together quickly and for a much more affordable price.

2. There’s no shame in the hand-me-down game

Hand-me-downs are going to be your best friend. There’s only so much you can buy new and when it comes down to it, there is a lot of space at the bottom of the baskets. If you look at mine, all the fun items like cups, snacks, stickers and decorations are at the top. If the whole basket was filled with top-tier items, the baskets would be much smaller and I would have no money. Don’t be afraid to use those old sorority shirts tucked away in your closet to fill the bottom. Ask your big for any of her extras and look out for chapter-wide pass downs where you can get more for cheap. Maybe they aren’t the cutest shirts, but they are a glimpse into the sorority’s past life and are a part of the basket tradition. To make it more fun to open, tuck away some extra treats in the shirts on the bottom for a surprise.

3. Add a little bit of *spice*

Don’t forget to include family traditions. For example, one of the traditions in my family is to pass down an H-E-B shopping basket. Other families have special items they hold on to, like garden gnomes or tiaras. Don’t have any traditions? Make one. Something I added to my family tradition was a scrapbook so we could keep track of our family lineage. I used a dollar store binder and simply printed out a page I made on about me and added it in. Now it’s my little’s turn to do the same and in all the years to come, new family members can flip back and see who they are related to. I also tried to stick to a color theme each day and build up the week by making baskets a little bigger every time.

Use these three tips to get started on your little-loving baskets and you’re sure to make her feel special. Don’t forget, though, that it doesn’t really matter what your baskets look like. She’s going to be your little, meaning she’s here for you. One week of baskets isn’t going to make or break your friendship, so let go of the stress and remember to have fun with it. All the fanny packs and Comfort Colors in the world couldn’t replace the special bond you’ll share as big and little.