Monday, March 11, 2013

Gift Baskets: How to make them awesome

Traveling for derby is exhausting; if you are on a travel team, you know that you will either be driving or flying during uncomfortable hours and you are usually strapped for cash, time or sleep.  We travel for the good of the game, but it isn't always the easiest thing we do in derby.  Because money is tight, and this sport is still volunteer based, the little niceties go a long long way; if you're the host team, it's a good idea to provide the visiting team a great gift basket.

The first bit of advice I have is to actually provide a basket!  Some teams have gotten away from this practice, but it's a good way to build bridges between leagues.  With travel money getting tighter, it's imperative to make visiting leagues want to come to you.  Part of that can be the way you treat the visiting league, and gift baskets are a nice way to welcome people to your venue.

Core comforts should be provided in each basket; bananas seem to be the number one item people want.  Sometimes it's hard to transport fruit, especially fruit that bruises if you sneeze on it. Bananas are nature's recovery food, and even though I hate the texture and taste of them, I'm always grateful to see them in a gift basket, because I know it's something I should eat at half time.  OTC pain killers are also a giant help!  You never  know when you might get a headache or muscle pain in a game.  My personal favorite OTC?  Goody Powders.  If you aren't southern, you might not be familiar with this miracle powder, but you can find it here.  It's not for the faint of heart!  Feminine hygiene products can really save someone from a difficult situation, but make sure not to skimp on the quality.  Nothing sucks worse than cheap-o tampons. Other than that, food is always welcome; I personally love chocolate, but any kind of food works for me!

Skating essentials are always a good bet.  Some skate laces, duct tape (fun prints are the best!)  and maybe a package of Astro Nuts might make a skater's day.  Another "skating" necessity is a sharpie marker.  Every coach carries sharpies, but half of them dry out over time.  Having a fresh marker in a basket can make everything easier for a coach dealing with a million things on the road.  People often forget their bandanas when they travel too, so buy a pack of cheap bandanas and if you have time, personalize them with some fabric paint.  Useful, thoughtful and fun basket stuffers can bring a smile to the other team's faces.

Swag from your team can be a nice thing to add to the basket.  Buttons and stickers don't cost a lot, and they make great mementos   I have a "derby hat" which has a pin from every derby team I've played or seen play.  I'm always looking to add to it, and I'm sure I'm not alone.  Finally, make sure the gift basket has enough programs in it for the team.  Personally, I tend to forget to grab a program in the hustle and bustle of a travel game, but I love to collect them.

My pin collection has grown exponentially since this picture was taken.
Some other awesome items you can put in your gift basket can be fun or practical.  Stickers, travel sized deodorant, press on mustaches, traveling medical kits, hair ties, gum, temporary tattoos, crayons and coloring books can be well appreciated items.  Some people put condoms in their baskets; I don't have anything against that, especially if Planned Parenthood is one of your sponsors, but maybe your money could go towards something more immediately useful.  Although some enterprising people I know have used the free condoms in welcome baskets as super giant water balloons thrown from hotel balconies after the after party.  All parties will remain anonymous to protect the guilty.

PS!  Don't forget your zebras!  Zebras like gift baskets too!


  1. Seriously - give them hydration and food options!! Derbalife's 24Hydrate is not only what gets me through every practice and bout, but they come in boxes of 28. Most Derbalife coaches will do trades or discounts for advertising ... they're awesome for Zebras too.

  2. Oranges or clementines are a good fruit that doesn't bruise so easily. Those Cuties are delicious and you get a bunch in a box, plenty for visiting teams and zeebs.

    One of the best hospitality gift experiences I've ever had was playing Tally. Each skater got their own bag. It had an ice pack and handmade cover, button earrings in our colors, a small skull ornament also in our colors, and some excellent small merch like matchbooks and temporary tattoos. Plus they also provided us with lots of sandwiches and chips!

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  8. Beautiful baskets. My parents once commissioned me to make one for a basket auction they participated in for their bowling league. It's a lot harder than it looks!
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