Category Archives: BasketWorks

6 Buzzworthy Health Benefits of Honey

Last time we blew your minds with 4 Health Benefits of Cherries That Will Make You Chipper, and if you thought we’d stop there, prepare to be re-mesmerized.

Bees may frighten us with their buzzing and stingers, but we love their honey, that delicious ingredient that adds a depth of flavor to beverages, snacks and chef-worthy dishes. 

If you love the sweet taste of honey, you’ll be happy to know it is also quite healthy, and you bet your sweet nectar that we’re about to explore its health benefits. 

1. Honey Contains Polyphenols

Poly what?

Polyphenols are plant-based compounds found in foods such as fruit. Polyphenols have been linked to many potential health benefits, including:

  • Lowering blood sugar levels
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Prevention of blood clots
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved brain function

2. A Powerful Antioxidant

We can’t avoid the word “antioxidant” because it shows up in every healthy food. So deal with it! 

Fresh, unprocessed honey is rich in antioxidants and the darker the variety, the more antioxidants you’ll find. Antioxidants help neutralize the potential damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. As a benefit, polyphenols can help combat the signs of premature aging.

3. A Healthy Alternative to Sugar

Now that you’re an expert in polyphenols, you’ll be happy to know that the polyphenols in honey can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, especially when compared to basic sugar. 

To be clear, honey does still raise blood sugar levels, but it also helps improve blood sugar regulation because it can help increase levels of the hormone adiponectin. Just be sure you’re using pure honey without any additional sweeteners or syrups. 

4. Improved Heart Health

Honey can reduce the risk of high blood pressure. In addition, the propolis in raw honey could improve your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Aren’t we just so sciencey?

5. Aids in Wound Healing

Honey has been used as a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory treatment dating back to ancient Egypt. 

When honey is applied to burns and wounds, it can help promote healing and can also ease discomfort related to skin conditions such as psoriasis. Whatever you do, don’t lick it while it’s doing its healing thing. 

6. Calming Coughs and Soothing Sore Throats

Some contend that honey is the ideal natural cold medicine, offering an excellent cough suppressant. 

Just a spoonful has been known to calm coughs without the side effects of over-the-counter medicines. In fact, studies have found it to be better than diphenhydramine, a medicine commonly used to ease troublesome coughs. 

It can also help soothe painful sore throats. If it’s a little too sweet on its own, add a generous spoonful to your tea or a cup of warm water with a squirt of fresh lemon.

🚨🚨🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨🚨🚨

We usually go with one siren emoji, but in case you’re tired today, this will wake you up. 

We can’t talk about honey without mentioning our Breakfast Tray Gift Basket, featuring a mini honey jar, Bonne Maman lemon curd, Sticky Fingers scone mix, and more. 

While honey might be the ideal treat to satisfy your sweet tooth, it makes an excellent alternative to sugar, thanks to its many health benefits.  

About Basketworks

BasketWorks is a woman-owned gift basket company located in the north suburbs of Chicago (specifically Northbrook, IL) since 1997. We are proud to offer a variety of gifts and gift baskets appropriate for all occasions. Each of our packages is built to order, allowing for customization at no additional cost to our clients. Contact us today! Please subscribe to our blog post and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

5 Practical Gifts for New Homeowners

A new home is exciting, but I swear, in commercials they make it seem like it’s completely stress-free. 

In real life, we know that’s just not the case. Buying a new home is exciting, but it’s also terrifying because it’s one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make. And don’t get me started about move-in day. 

As a friend, family member, or concerned citizen, here’s where you can help. Imagine surprising the new homeowner in your life with very practical move-in gifts? Where do you start?

Read on.

1. A Gift Card For Furniture 

Not that you’re responsible for furnishing the new home, but a gift card for furniture is a nice contribution. 

A little something can help with their choice of chairs, tables, couches, beds, or what-have-you. 

Plus, they can use the gift card to purchase other items needed to complete their home, such as rugs, lamps, or pillows. 

The only downside is that they may have to wait a while for their new furniture to arrive, but 1) it will be worth it, and 2) it’s not your problem. 

2. A Nice Set of Towels 

Move-in day has lots of moving pieces. 

You’ve got to coordinate the movers, connect cable and utilities, run to Costco, etc. 

Then you realize after washing your hands, that you’ve nothing to dry them with. Doh. 

That’s why a set of brand new, fluffy, fragrant towels is always appreciated. If you want to be a rockstar, you can special order personalized monogrammed towels. 

3. A Potted Plant

A potted plant can turn a regular home into your dream home. 

No it can’t. I just wanted to make fun of that cliché. 

What it can do is add a touch of greenery to any space and really brighten up a new home. Also, it’s a gift that keeps on giving, as the recipient will be able to enjoy the plant for years to come…if they remember to water it and keep it in the sun.

4. A Homemade Meal

After a long day of moving in, people typically opt for a quick and dirty dinner like ordering a pizza. 

There’s nothing wrong with that; however, how nice would it be for your new homeowner friend to receive a homemade meal? 

Now that’s love. Since you know this person or family well, it will be easy to pick one of their favorites. If you’re not a cook, you can always order and deliver from their favorite restaurant. 

5. Cleaning Supplies

No, this is not a way of saying, “Eww, you need to clean up.” Rather, it conveys, “Welcome to adulthood! Here are all the things you need to keep your new place clean.” 

Of course, some people may not be thrilled to receive a box of cleaning supplies as a housewarming gift. But hey, at least you’re giving them something they’ll actually use. And who knows? They might even appreciate it more than a bottle of wine or a scented candle.

If you want to go the extra mile, offer to do some of the cleaning yourself. 

🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨

Yeah, we’re becoming less and less subtle about these, not that subtlety was ever our forte. 

The best gift for new homeowners is our Lemon Fresh Gift Basket which will elevate a kitchen to new heights with lemon basil multi-surface cleaner, room spray, foaming soap, hand cream, kosher lemon tea, and more! 

Now go make someone’s moving day!

About BasketWorks

BasketWorks is a woman owned gift basket company, located in the north suburbs of Chicago (specifically Northbrook, IL) since 1997. We are proud to offer a variety of gifts and gift baskets appropriate for all occasions. Each of our packages is built to order, allowing for customization at no additional cost to our clients.

Contact us today! Please subscribe to our blog post and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

4 Health Benefits of Cherries That Will Make You Chipper 

Is there anything more inviting, more pleasing to the eyes than a striking bowl of cherries? 

Before you can give a smart aleck answer, I’ll beat you to it: Yes, two bowls of cherries. 

Take that! 

Cherries are still in season, and they not only go down easily, they also are loaded with health benefits. Grab a handful or two and read on. 

1. Cherries Are a Natural Source of Antioxidants

Usually we make you wait for antioxidants to make an appearance in our blogs, but we’re going to lead with our old friends. 

Cherries are a natural source of antioxidants, those trusted compounds that work to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage and are linked to the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants, like cherries, can help reduce the risk of these diseases.

Not only that, cherries are also a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. 

2. Cherries Can Help Improve Sleep Quality

If you’re looking for a natural way to improve your sleep quality, consider reaching for a bowl of cherries. 

According to The Sleep Foundation, cherries contain compounds that can help promote better sleep. One study found that participants who drank cherry juice for two weeks reported significantly higher levels of melatonin, a hormone that plays an important role in regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycle. 

Maybe cherries should be called cherriezzzzz. Get it?

3. Cherries Can Reduce Inflammation and Pain

Cherries can also be a remedy for pain and inflammation. 

Cherries contain anthocyanin, another compound with anti-inflammatory properties. In some instances, cherries have relieved symptoms related to arthritis and gout. In addition, the antioxidants found in cherries may reduce pain and swelling. 

4. Cherries Are a Good Source of Fiber

Cherries aren’t just a good source of fiber; they’re one of the best among foods. 

In fact, just a handful of cherries contains more fiber than a whole bowl of bran flakes. And unlike bran flakes, cherries are actually delicious. 

Why is fiber important? 

It’s essential for proper digestion, and it helps reduce cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels. Fiber also makes you feel fuller longer, so it can help with weight loss. 

Oh, and one more thing: 🍒SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🍒  Check out our Classic Pairings Wine Gift Basket, featuring a lot of goodies, including chocolate covered cherries! 

About BasketWorks

BasketWorks is a woman owned gift basket company, located in the north suburbs of Chicago (specifically Northbrook, IL) since 1997. We are proud to offer a variety of gifts and gift baskets appropriate for all occasions. Each of our packages is built to order, allowing for customization at no additional cost to our clients.

Contact us today! Please subscribe to our blog post and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

5 Last Minute Summer Activities That Don’t Require Planning

The last few weeks of summer always seem to fly by, and before you know it, school is starting, and Labor Day is here. 

If this is a reality check gut-punch, then sorry. But…summer isn’t over until we say it is, and there are still some last minute activities to enjoy with your friends or family!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and have some fun.

1. Have a picnic in your backyard

Don’t want to take your picnic on the road? Hello, you can always simply step outside and set up shop in your backyard.

Spread a blanket on the grass and enjoy the warm sunshine while you feast on your favorite picnic foods. If you’re feeling ambitious, fire up the grill. Most importantly, don’t forget the essential ingredient for any picnic: good company. 

2. Go for a swim at the nearest pool or beach

As the dog days of summer drag on, it can be hard to find ways to escape the heat. 

One of the best ways to stay cool is by taking a dip in the nearest pool or beach. The water is refreshing, and the act of swimming itself can help to raise your body temperature. Plus, there’s nothing quite like floating on your back and looking up at the clouds on a hot summer day. Just don’t be silly and not apply sunscreen. 

3. Watch a movie outside under the stars

There’s something special about watching a movie outdoors. 

Maybe it’s the feeling of being one with nature, or maybe it’s the sense of community that comes from sharing the experience with other people. Or perhaps it’s not being disrupted by the noise of movie theater chairs folding up and down. 

Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind: first, make sure you choose a spot where you’ll have plenty of room to spread out a blanket or set up chairs. You’ll also want to be sure there’s no light pollution, so you can get the full effect of the stars shining overhead. And definitely to pack some snacks. Duh. 

4. Visit a nearby amusement park or zoo

Great America, Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, Cosley Zoo, Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo. 

If you’re looking for a day of thrills (and whiplash of the best kind), there’s no better place to visit than your nearest amusement park. From heart-stopping roller coasters to more placid Ferris wheels, you have your pick. 

And if thrills aren’t your thing, don’t worry—there are plenty of other attractions to keep you entertained. If you’re more of a naturalist, head to your local zoo. There, you’ll be able to see all sorts of exotic animals up close and learn about their habitats. You might even get to feed some of them, though I’d be leery of the viper pit. 

5. Make ice cream sundaes and eat them on your porch

Sundaes on the porch? Sounds dreamy. 

First, you’ll need some essential sundae-making supplies: ice cream, of course, plus your favorite toppings and a few bowls and spoons. Once you have everything gathered, head outside and find a comfortable spot on the porch. Then, it’s time to start building your sundaes. Start with a scoop of ice cream, then add a drizzle of chocolate sauce or caramel. Top it off with a sprinkle of nuts or some whipped cream, and voila! You’ve just created a delicious work of art. 

Summer’s not quite out of reach. Seize the final days. 

Wait, wait, wait. This would not be a proper blog post without a 🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨 To go along with that trip to the zoo, we recommend surprising someone with

our Flamboyance of Flamingos Gift Basket.

Enjoy these activities! 

About BasketWorks

BasketWorks/79Gifts is a woman owned gift basket company, located in the north suburbs of Chicago (specifically Northbrook, IL) since 1997. We are proud to offer a variety of gifts and gift baskets appropriate for all occasions. Each of our packages is built to order, allowing for customization at no additional cost to our clients. Contact us today!

Please subscribe to our blog post and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

5 Reasons to Support Your Local farmers Market

Over here at BasketWorks, we pride ourselves on not being mercenaries; oh no, we’re all about supporting the community, as we’ve previously discussed. In that vein (Isn’t that the strangest expression?), we’re back with another way to convey to your municipality that you’ve got their back. 

Farmers markets do just this, providing a platform for local businesses to get together and sell their wares.

Local farmers markets are a fun and fresh way to spend a morning. Whether shopping for locally harvested produce, freshly laid eggs, or locally crafted organic beer, you can count on your market to have seasonal products.

Today, we look at  five reasons to get involved and show your support.

1. You Give More Back to Your Local Farms

When you shop at grocery stores over farmers markets, you may be taking money out of the farmer’s pocket.

According to the University of Nebraska, only 10% of the money spent on farmed goods goes to the farmer. The rest of those funds go toward packaging, shipping, marketing, and other costs involved in third-party sales.

By shopping at your local farmers market, you ensure more of your money goes directly to the farmer. 

This supports your local economy and the small business owners who live in your community. Plus, you can reward yourself with a bag of kettle corn popcorn or some other indulgent farmers market treat. 

2. Food and Products are Fresh and In-Season

Farmers markets don’t ship products in from other countries. They rely on locally grown produce and locally crafted goods. 

This provides freshly baked bread, in-season fruit and vegetables, and a multitude of other fresh products to choose from.

There’s no concern over spoiled dairy, undersized vegetables, or tasteless out-of-season melons. Instead, sink your teeth into bright, crisp flavors, and take home bags of groceries you can feel good about serving your family.

3. A Diverse Selection of Local Goods

Farmers markets are designed with locals in mind. This means the stalls at your market reflect your community and the products and services you crave. Most markets feature:

  • Food stalls to sample and eat as you browse
  • Fresh baked goods
  • Produce
  • Locally crafted products
  • Specialty goods

The products represent your community and the people in it. From handsewn quilts to blown glass to beeswax candles, you can trace the origin of these products to the plants and animals they come from in your city or town.

4. Environmentally Friendly

The food you purchase at the local grocery store travels the country (and sometimes the globe) to reach you. This not only costs extra money to be delivered to grocery chains but uses extra fuel to get there.

Local farmers have shorter distances to travel to bring their products to market. Reduce your carbon footprint when you shop locally.

5. Learn About Local Culture and Customs

One of the best parts of a farmers market is seeing, smelling, and tasting all the local goodies. You can learn a lot about a community and its people by what’s being sold at the local market.

Here’s a list of farmers markets on the North Shore:

Discover the various cultures and customs in your community. Taste new foods, try new products, and fall in love with your city all over again.

About BasketWorks

BasketWorks/79Gifts is a woman owned gift basket company, located in the north suburbs of Chicago (specifically Northbrook, IL) since 1997. We are proud to offer a variety of gifts and gift baskets appropriate for all occasions. Each of our packages is built to order, allowing for customization at no additional cost to our clients. Contact us today!

Please subscribe to our blog post and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Health Benefits of Sparkling Water

You might be thinking Okay, now this is a stretch

We respect your thoughts. However, our crack team of health benefits researchers (we don’t have one) spent months (they didn’t) scouring the data on this, the sleuths that they are. 

But for real, there are health benefits of sparkling water. 

Whether you prefer seltzer, mineral water, or club soda, these bubbly drinks are a great way to stay hydrated throughout the day, and July in Chicagoland feels like the furthest thing from January. In addition to being refreshing and flavorful, sparkling water is also low in calories and sugar-free. 

For more, read on. 

Sparkling Water Is a Great Way to Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential for…well, being alive, and heat illness is serious, and chronic dehydration can lead to digestive issues and complications with the heart and kidneys.

Sometimes plain water can be a bit boring, whereas there are many delicious sparkling water types. If regular water doesn’t do it for you, load up on the fizzy stuff.

It Can Help You Lose and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Sparkling water can help you lose weight in several ways.

It helps reduce your overall calorie intake. Many people find that sparkling water is more satisfying than sugary drinks, so they end up drinking fewer calories throughout the day. 

Sparkling water is also known to boost your metabolism. The carbonation in sparkling water stimulates the digestive system, which can increase the number of calories you burn each day. 

This is good. 

Sparkling Water Is a Good Source of Minerals Like Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium

I think if we’re not careful, sparkling water may start growing a huge head. Still, we must continue with its benefits. 

Sparkling water is naturally infused with minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which keeps your body healthy and hydrated. In addition, it can prevent tooth decay and promote healthy digestive function. 

Speaking of Digestion…

Sparkling water can actually improve digestion. The carbonation in sparkling water promotes the release of stomach acids, which breaks down food and aids in digestion. 

But we’re not done! The extra hydration from the sparkling water can combat constipation, too. We won’t get into details, but if you want them, read this article by WebMd

See, you can count on us to make something like sparkling water sound fun. As always, beware of the kinds with added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Otherwise, forget all of the above.

About BasketWorks

BasketWorks/79Gifts is a woman owned gift basket company, located in the north suburbs of Chicago (specifically Northbrook, IL) since 1997. We are proud to offer a variety of gifts and gift baskets appropriate for all occasions. Each of our packages is built to order, allowing for customization at no additional cost to our clients. Contact us today!

Please subscribe to our blog post and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

How to Prepare for a 4th of July Parade

Guess what? The 4th of July is Monday.

You may have stocked up on bottle rockets and Roman candles, shopped for burgers, bratwursts, and hot dogs, and know that your village’s fireworks show starts at 9pm. But…are you prepared for your 4th of July parade? 

If not, this is an oh so timely blog post. If you have, 1) good for you, and 2) you may learn something new. 

Read on, friends. 

Stake Your Claim

This is waaaay less dramatic than it sounds. 

However, if you want a good spot (or any) from where to watch the parade, lay down some chairs as early as you can. Find out what the rules are from your village, town, city, or fiefdom around that. Oh, and grab some real estate in the shade. Your skin will thank you. 

Speaking of Chairs…

You know what you deserve? 

A comfortable, portable lawn chair. Sure, you’ve got some hanging in your garage that are stained with melted marshmallow, but that will no longer do. Buy a new set that is poised to absorb your parade sweat. 

Also, bring a blanket or two for the kids because why should they have the privilege of sitting in your new chairs? 

Sunscreen (Gobs) & Hats

This is for the kids, because unless they’re unicorns, they’re not going to remind you to lather them up and cover their heads. 

The average 4th of July temperature is a low of hot and a high of unforgiving. Kids don’t worry about this stuff because they’re kids, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to apply sunscreen and have them wear their favorite team hat before leaving the house. 

Oh, and bring extra sunscreen with you. 

Bring Water

Make like a camel and carry a lot of water. 

And I’m not talking about the lousy one-hump dromedary camel, but the two-humped bactrians, who scoff at their ill-prepared, inferior counterparts as though they’re airplanes with only one engine. 

The point is to take the number of water bottles you’re planning on bringing and multiply by two. Dehydration is no joke, and if you have leftovers, there’s still a lot of summer left to consume them.  

Have Snacks Handy

4th of July parades have become sort of a preamble to Halloween. 

People dress up in costumes and they launch candy from their floats. This is enough “nourishment” to satiate your kids, but what about you? 

It’s a good idea to pack some fruit, energy bars, nuts, what have you in a cooler or a bag with a liner. Whatever you do, don’t put any food in your pocket because it will melt like it was never a solid. 

🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨

It’s about time this got its own section. 

If ever there was a product more suited for a blog post, it’s our Summer Fun Gift Basket. A seasonal hit, this one includes a popsicle maker, Copco insulated cup, Hawaiian pasta salad, emoji lemonade, and gummy bears. 

Your 4th of July parade just got a whole lot better. 

Enjoy the holiday weekend! 

About BasketWorks

BasketWorks/79Gifts is a woman owned gift basket company, located in the north suburbs of Chicago (specifically Northbrook, IL) since 1997. We are proud to offer a variety of gifts and gift baskets appropriate for all occasions. Each of our packages is built to order, allowing for customization at no additional cost to our clients. Contact us today!

Please subscribe to our blog post and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

5 Health Benefits of Popcorn

Freshly made popcorn on a wooden table

One of the modern culinary marvels is the ability to take something unhealthy and make it healthy. I see you cauliflower steak, meatless chorizo sausage, and dark chocolate

Enter popcorn. It’s no secret that there are healthier versions of popcorn in your supermarket aisles, but we look at the puffy bags and think, “Okay, these aren’t that bad for you.” 

The thing about popcorn is that, prepared and consumed the right way, it can be good for you. 

Let’s explore the health benefits of popcorn and the healthiest ways to enjoy the snack.

1. It Can Aid in Weight Loss

A cup of regular air-popped popcorn contains 30 calories and is highly satiating. 

The whole grain derivative is also rich in folate, Vitamin B, and fiber, improving general body metabolism and essential for weight loss.

Who knew?

However, you can undo the benefits of popcorn by adding decadent ingredients. Nix that. Instead, try healthier additives like cayenne pepper, onion powder, and cinnamon if you want some extra taste. 

2. It Has the Potential to Keep Blood Sugar Levels in Check

Popcorn has fiber that controls insulin release and management, regulating blood sugar levels. 

High fiber content lowers blood sugar, hence healthier living. Popcorn is even a recommended food for people who have diabetes. Don’t believe me? The American Dietetic Association defines 15 g of carbohydrates as the required amount for managing diabetes. 15g is equal to 3 cups of air-popped popcorn.

3. Minimizes Effects of Aging

I’m not going to claim that popcorn defies the unfortunate gravitational pull of our aging bodies. 

But popcorn does contain our favorite compound that makes frequent cameo appearances on this blog. When I say ANTI, you say OXIDANT. ANTI! 

Popcorn has polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may prevent sun-induced skin damage. Also, the same polyphenols fight a wide range of inflammation in your body, preventing joint pain. 

A regular serving of popcorn, about 3 cups, contains tons of beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin that can boost your vision. That doesn’t mean you can achieve satellite-grade vision when snacking on bowls of popcorn, but it can help.

4. May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

The fiber in popcorn is known to reduce levels of cholesterol in your body. Eating a diet rich in whole grains reduces your chances of developing heart disease. Popcorn is a whole grain since it has bran, endosome, and germ. That sounds like a law firm. 

Also, the antioxidants fight free radicals, which cause cardiovascular complications. 

5. Improves Digestive Health

Consumption of popcorn adds more dietary fiber to your body, which can improve gut health. There is limited research on how popcorn relieves constipation, but the results are evidence that it may help to incorporate more popcorn into your diet.

Your movie snack buddy has many health benefits, but the line between healthy popcorn and a dietary horror is thin. Once you glop on indulgent toppings, all bets are off. Eat responsibly.

That’s all. Thank you for reading. 

As if! 

We saved the best for last: 🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨 Check out our Family Movie Night gift basket with not just one type of popcorn, but three…and other goodies, too. 

Please subscribe to our blog post and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

How to Plan the Perfect Picnic

Ah, summer. The most elusive season in Chicagoland. 

To quote the great Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The same goes for summer. It’s here and then it’s not, so it’s important to make the most of it. 

One way is by having a picnic or 20. There’s something wonderful about relaxing and eating in the great outdoors. Of course, no great picnic comes without some planning, and in today’s blog post, we offer up some tips. 

Choose a Picnic Spot

Location, location, location. 

There are many options for a picnic spot, depending on the activities, size of your basket, and privacy. You can never go wrong with picnicking at the end of the park, where there are no dogs and wildly flying frisbees. Your picnic spot should have a scenic backdrop for selfies and pictures to post on social media to make your friends jealous…I mean…to store for a lifetime of memories. 

If you don’t feel like schlepping, you can always set up shop in your backyard. Also, don’t rule out adult picnics with meat and cheese boards, and wine. Ravinia, anyone? 

Planning The Food

At the center of any great picnic is the food (the same could be said about any occasion, really).

With so many different options, it’s more about deciding which types of food are going to enhance your experience the most and make the day more enjoyable. If being efficient and having easy cleanup is a top priority for you, then you may decide on snacks and finger foods that aren’t going to be messy. If it’s all about the flavor and texture, then you may want to drop any restrictions or limitations and go with whatever suits your cravings. 

Whatever you end up choosing, make sure it is relatively easy to eat in a picnic setting, it can be transported without spoiling, and it’s something everyone is going to enjoy. 

And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t bring pizza, because by the time you set up, it will be lukewarm and dull, and that is a culinary crime. 

Choose a Good Basket (or More)

You may opt for a classic, sturdy picnic basket or a cost-effective duffel bag. Both carriers are viable options for your picnic. Remember to carry a cooler for your chilled drinks.

Make a checklist that includes paper plates, disposable utensils, a waterproof picnic blanket or vintage quilt, and napkins. If you bring wine or beer–which of course you should–you’ll need an opener and some glasses. 

One more thing: Thou shalt not forget bug spray and sunscreen. 

Bring Games 

It’s always nice to work off some of that food with a little physical activity. Bring a game of bags, a football, paddle ball, baseball and gloves, frisbee, or hacky sack (if you must). 

I feel like I’m forgetting something. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know it’s related to baskets that enhance the picnic experience that are great gifts for the important people in your lives. Oh yes, it’s coming to me. Sound the 🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨 because we have the perfect gift baskets for your picnic, like our Picnic At Home Gift Basket!

And oh yeah, check the weather first unless you enjoy picnicking in the rain or hail. 

Health Benefits of Volunteering

Yep, you read the title of this blog post correctly. 

You may be asking your screen, “Aren’t these supposed to be about food and drink?” 

Good question, and the answer is no. 

You may also be asking, “What does volunteering have to do with gift baskets?”

Another good question, and the answer is nothing. 

You see, we’re thinking outside of the vittle/potable box while still sticking with the health benefits theme. I’ve also wanted to write about this topic because I’ve certainly experienced the benefits of volunteering, working with organizations such as the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce, The Peyton Heart Project, Shir Hadash Synagogue, Boy Scouts of America, and Camp Fire. 

Today, we veer toward volunteerism. 

Volunteering Can Help Reduce Depression

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and finally a light is being shined brighter on this issue than ever before. In that vein, it turns out that the act of volunteering can be good for your mental health. 

A study shows that social connection for a good cause reduces feelings of depression, especially among patients suffering from chronic pain. Lending a helping hand gives you a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and may improve your self-confidence. 

A Mood Boost

We’ll keep things in the mental health realm. 

Part and parcel with reducing depression, volunteering can make you happier. According to the Journal of Happiness Studies (I’m not making this up), scientists discovered that people who volunteer compared to those who don’t, were generally more satisfied with their lives and reported better mental health. 

Feelings of happiness are linked to endorphins, also known as the brain’s natural pain reliever

Improved Physical Health

Check it out: you could volunteer without missing out on a gym hour and vice versa. Volunteering can serve as a good workout. 

Activities vary in physical exertion, but movement can improve your heart rate, which helps battle cardiovascular diseases. A 30-year study by Cornell University shows that senior citizens who volunteered had far fewer illnesses than their counterparts who didn’t.

Many volunteering activities are outdoors, meaning you get your daily dose of Vitamin D. Also, you exercise your body, which is important for overall health. 

Nurtures New and Fosters Existing Relationships

People are often recruited to volunteer by friends, co-workers, colleagues, and other folks they know. Spending quality time together and conducting acts of service strengthens bonds. At the same time, volunteerism offers an opportunity to build new relationships. 

The Mayo Clinic agrees: 

“Volunteering increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common interests. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to participate in a shared activity. Dedicating time as a volunteer helps expand social networks and practice social skills with others.”

Fired up yet! You should be. If you need direction on volunteer opportunities, here is a comprehensive list covering Chicagoland. 

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