The story of chocolate, as far back as we know it, begins with the discovery of America. Until 1492, the Old World knew nothing at all about the delicious and stimulating flavor that was to become the favorite of millions.

The Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella got its first look at the principal ingredient of chocolate when Columbus returned in triumph from America and laid before the Spanish throne a treasure trove of many strange and wonderful things. Click here

Growing the Cocoa Bean  |   Varieties of Cacao  |   Crop for Shipment  |   How to Make Cocoa Powder
Bean to Chocolate  |   What is Conching?  |   Automation Does the Job  |   A Sanitary Atmosphere
Eating Chocolates  |   Growing Chocolates  |   Chocolates just for kids


Express Your Gratitude With A Thoughtful Handmade Gift Basket

In certain situations, a few simple words do not cover the extent of gratitude one feels. If someone has gone above and beyond the call of duty, presenting them with a gift basket is a classy and thoughtful way to say thanks. With so many options in today's world, it is easy to find the perfect gift. Homemade gift baskets or gift boxes are simple to arrange. Many dollar stores or discount stores sell fancy baskets or boxes that you can then line with tissue paper and stuff with a wide array of goodies from flowers, to candy, to room sprays.

It is important to have a grasp for the other person's likes and dislikes. If the recipient is a chocoholic, consider creating a basket that has one large chocolate item in the center, such as a chocolate orange, and then circle it with smaller truffles, chocolate kisses, mini chocolate bars, and similar treats. Baskets of fancy soaps, room sprays, or candles will appeal to women who enjoy filling their home with an array of fragrances. Place a larger decorative soap in the center and then surround it with other smaller items. If you know the person enjoys bubble baths, create a box or basket with a variety of bath products. Bath oil beads, fizzing bath tablets, bottles of bubble bath, loofah sponges, and even body scrubs will delight any bath lover.

Try creating a theme basket. Children needing thanks will love baskets full of their favorite toys or television characters. Sports lovers will enjoy baskets or boxes with t-shirts, team merchandise, key rings, pens or pencils shaped like baseball bats, pennants and more. Animal lovers will enjoy a basket with a stuffed replica of their favorite animal.

Add a similarly themed notepad, calendar, and t-shirt. If the recipient enjoys gardening, purchase a variety of seeds, gardening gloves, tools, and small pots. Aspiring chefs will enjoy a variety of spices, cooking utensils, a bottle of wine, and similarly themed items. If your friend is a baker, purchase boxed bread mixes, dessert mixes, and other neat treats.

Pack them into a decorated box with a new set of pot mitts. If putting together a gift basket is not to your liking, visit area shops. Many candy stores, florists, and gourmet stores will create a gift basket from items you pick out. The cost includes the cost of the items you select and then a minimal surcharge for the basket and any wrapping.

Also look into home businesses that create gift baskets or gift boxes for you. Many moms and dads are leaving their 9 to 5 job behind and tapping into the gift basket craze. Their prices are generally lower than a store and the quality is top-notch. No matter the gift, there are ways to stick with your budget and give a gift of thanks that will never be forgotten. Use your imagination and you are guaranteed that the recipient knows how much you appreciated their help.

Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Beach, Florida. Find more about this as well as handmade gift baskets at


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