An easy way to add a bit of fun to a holiday gift is by giving it a theme and creating a gift basket. This ups the presentation value a bit and allows you to tie a common thread through a series of smaller gifts, creating one basket full of great goodies for a special person in your life.

For your beach-loving best friend

Have a pal who wishes it was summer year-round? The holidays are the perfect time to give them a slice of summer with your gift. Start with those great summer smells. A beach or ocean-scented candle and some body lotion with a coconut scent (similar to the scent of sunscreen) will do the trick. Grab some graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows for the basket so your bud can make s’mores at home to feel summery. You might also include a beach read – how about Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan, a novel about four women from the same dysfunctional family who spend their summers on the Maine coast? Music will also help bring back great summer memories. You could put together a great mix CD of your favorites, or throw in a great summertime CD like Gold Motel’s “Summer House”. How about that perfect tan? Maine winters aren’t warm, but you can get a gift certificate to a local tanning salon so your friend can have sun-kissed skin even in December. Lana Gould, owner of Hot Stuff Tanning Salon & Wellness Center in Auburn, says tanning is a great gift that “can help with seasonal disorders, natural Vitamin D production, endorphin release, all kinds of good things.” Lastly, for a sentimental touch, include a fun photo of you and your friend from a great summer night. The combination of these things is guaranteed to give your friend a smile and bring back memories of the warm summer months.

For the superhero fan

The past few years have been superhero-crazy in American cinema. According to, three of the top five grossing films of 2012 are superhero flicks (“The Avengers”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, and “The Amazing Spider-man”). If you know someone who’s a fan of superheroes or action movies, put together a basket with the best of the superhero genre: “Iron Man”, “Captain America”, “Thor”, “The Incredible Hulk”, and, of course, “The Avengers”. There are also great scores and soundtracks available for films like “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises”. Local stores like Bull Moose will be stocking these titles all season – and Bull Moose in Lewiston also sells many of the comic books that these movie characters come from. Comic books would make a great addition to a superhero-themed gift basket.

For the bookworm

Sometimes the perfect night in is spent with a cup of tea or cocoa and a great book. You can easily put together a gift basket for the bookworm in your life. First of all, include a few books (favorites of yours or things you think they’ll love) or a gift card to iTunes or where they can purchase books for a Kindle or e-reader. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson are among this year’s editor picks at Matt Pettengill, assistant manager of Nonesuch Books and Cards in South Portland, also recommends The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. “It offers a fresh take on a very classic myth,” Pettengill says. “The author really knows many variations of the tale and writes a thoughtful and surprisingly touching rendition.”

Once the books are chosen, add a pound of good coffee or some K-cups for a Keurig brewer (green tea, hot cocoa, and apple cider flavors are perfect for a night in with a book) and maybe even a cute coffee mug to go with it. A fancy or funny bookmark makes a great addition, and you can include a cute notebook and pen, where the book enthusiast can copy favorite quotations or jot down thoughts about the books they’re reading and loving.

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