How to make a basket for your little for less than $100

Taking a Little is probably my favorite part about being in Gamma Sig (and I should know, I have FOUR!), but making a basket, and doing it on a budget, is incredibly daunting. In my time as a Big, I’ve learned each time I’ve taken a Little how to spend less but give more, and each basket has been increasingly better than the last. Hopefully, you can learn from my experience and give your Little the best basket in the world.

Let’s start with the most basic element of your basket: the actual basket. In my family, we pass down our basket whenever possible, which can be a HUGE money saver. The basket I got from my Big was given to her by her Big, and so on. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible (like when you have twins!). If you have to buy a basket, keep an eye out on the sales at Michaels. Between sales & coupons, I’ve never paid more than $10 for a basket.

My Big & I in the blanket she made me!
My Big & I in the blanket she made me!

The next big things that I always add is a handmade tie blanket. My big, Zaynah, gave me a blanket my freshman year in my basket, and I honestly struggle to sleep without it. That blanket has gone so many places with me, and whenever I use it, it’s like I’m being wrapped up in a hug from Zaynah. Blankets can easily add up, but when you’re shopping, shop smart! Instead of picking out the fleece fabrics individually, consider the pre-cut blanket packs from Joann’s. You don’t get the flexibility of choosing both fabrics, but the sets they have are super cute! I’ve never spent more than $15 on these, whereas choosing fleece individually is usually closer to $30, and can easily go up from there.

riley-assortmentThe last ‘expensive’ purchase will be your family letters. Those will vary from family to family, but I would plan on spending about $20-$25 on those. If you’re really tight on cash, think about passing down your family letters or asking your big or g-big who might have graduated already if they would mind passing down their letters.

So now you’ve gotten the expensive stuff out of the way, it’s time for the fun stuff! This is the kind of stuff that’s more of the “filler” stuff, and I think it’s my favorite part of the whole process. You get to spoil your little based on her interests! How fun is that?riley-canvas

I always always always add a couple canvases.Don’t worry if you don’t think you’re very artistic – you don’t have to be artistic to make beautiful canvases, you just need a steady hand! I bought a pack of 10 canvases (8 by 10 inches) for $14.99 at Michael’s last year, so if you get together with a couple friends, the price goes down a lot! Make sure to do the same with paint! You’ll never use up an entire bottle
of paint on your own, so share share share! And, you’ll have more fun crafting with friends!

riley-pinboxCanvases aren’t the only thing you can paint! Pick up a wooden picture frame or two ($1 each at Michael’s), a pin box ($1 at Michael’s), inspirational words, and really anything else you want. There’s lots of fun things at Michael’s in the wooden section, and they typically are really affordable!
Once you have all of that painted, you’re really off to a great start! Check out the clearance section of Michael’s and the Dollar Spot at Target, there’s always a lot of fun filler stuff to add in. Even check out the Dollar Store…some of the stuff they have is definitely junk, but there’s a lot of hidden gems in there too (like lots & lots of candy!) One of my favorite finds is a suuuuuuuper cute penguin mug at Target for $1.50. I also always love to include personalized stuff, like stationary with their first initial. Another great idea to consider is a personalized tumbler from Ambitions on Main Street and then you can fill it with a piece of tissue paper to make it pop! The filler stuff you can spend as much or as little as you want here, so this is definitely a variable cost, but you should certainly be able to do this with just $10 or so!

Another thing you’ll want to consider is leftover Gamma Sig merch! I absolutely love spoiling my little with all sorts of Gamma Sig merch, and the most cost-effective way to do this is with the leftover merch from the Gamma Sig office! This is the merch that was bought & then never picked up, which means that you pay less than the ticket price for it! AND if that weren’t good enough, all the money from the sale of these items goes directly to our philanthropy! You can find pencils, pens, necklaces, pins, t-shirts, and sometimes even the rare spirit jersey in that collection! You can also go to Unique and get all sorts of goodies, but these can definitely add up. I usually try to limit myself in Unique and plan on only getting a couple pins (usually $1 each), a set of gamma sig bumper stickers ($4 each), and a set of wooden letters ($15), and I’m able to walk out of there under $20.

Make sure to think about things that you’ve received that you’d like to pass on down the line. Anything goes here! If you want to pass down canvases your big made for you, or letters, or really anything at all, that’s totally okay! My thoughts on this is that these items just have more love in them, and you’re sharing something that meant a lot to you, with someone who means a lot to you! I know I plan on passing down a LOT of my merch down to my g-littles, gg-littles and so on this spring, because I know that younger sisters will get much more use out of these items than I will once I graduate.

Once you add in a whole bunch of love (absolutely free!) and a set of chapter letters that Beta Gamma supplies, your basket will be completely full of items your darling little won’t be able to get enough of!

Now you have all this incredibly adorable stuff, the last step is to make sure to arrange it in a way to maximize what you have! Since you can’t really do this until the night of activation, try practicing at home to make the stress of setting it up there a little less. I always start by lining my basket with my blanket…This does three things: (1) it adds a more interesting backdrop for all of the goodies you’ll be adding, (2) it protects anything fragile you have (like mugs & other glasses), and (3) it elevates the other contents so they don’t get lost behind the edge of the basket. Once I’ve lined my basket, I think about the key things I want to highlight. I like to make sure her chapter & family letters are nice & visible, and I try to have some sort of identifier that this is her basket easy to spot (usually a wooden letter for her first initial). Don’t be afraid to use picture frames you’ve painted to frame other goodies you’ve made for her, and stack, layer & play around with everything you’ve made for her! If your contents spill out of your basket, that’s okay too. Just have fun with it!

So what’s the total damage? If you control your urges to just buy the entire store, you should have absolutely no problem walking out with a spoiled new little for $100, and if you’re even more careful, you can do it for even less!

The final product for the last basket I made!
The final product for the last basket I made!

Budget Breakdown:

  • $10 – Basket
  • $15 – Blanket
  • $25 – Family letters
  • $15 – Canvases, picture frames, paint, etc.
  • $15+ – Filler
  • $20+ –Gamma Sig merch
  • FREE – Chapter letters
  • FREE – Passdowns

GRAND TOTAL: $100

Hopefully this helps you as you plan to make a basket for your newest little! I can’t wait to see them all at activation!

Gamma love,

Maddi

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