The Christmas That Gift Baskets Forgot

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Usually, by this this time in December each year, offices around the country are swimming in gift baskets from Harry & David, boxes of chocolate from Godiva, or crates of summer sausage and cheddar cheese.  But this year, anecdotal evidence suggests that the recession has put the kibosh on those traditional food-laden gift baskets.

As with lavish company Christmas parties, gift baskets are conspicuously absent from most offices this year.  Aurora Owens, an accountant at a construction company in Humble, reports that in addition to their company holiday party being cancelled, they haven't received a single gift basket from their vendors.  "Normally by this time of the year, we have this one vendor that brings us a poinsettia plant... I definitely have not see any gift baskets or gift boxes come through for the owner of the company either."

Robert Dubose, an attorney, laughingly lamented the dearth of holiday food gifts he's received this year: "No tightly packaged processed cheese.  No flavored popcorn.  No candies.  Not even a freakin' fruitcake!"  But it's not just the gift-basket-less clients that are feeling the crunch; those who make and send the gift baskets are left out in the cold, too.

Jo Ann Gonzales, a personal chef who prepares and delivers gift baskets during the holidays each year, says that she's received far fewer orders than last year.  "In fact," she admitted, "I've been discouraging my clients from ordering them because it's costing me so much to put them together this year that I barely make a profit from them at all."

But in every cloud, there is a silver lining.  By not sending calorie- and saturated fat-laden gift baskets with questionable meat products, those vendors are actually giving their clients a far more valuable present this holiday season: the reduced chance of a myocardial infarction.  And with the high cost of medical coverage these days, it's really the gift that keeps on giving.

--- Katharine Shilcutt

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