Perfectly Present

Two Island businesses take the art of curated gift-giving to the next level.

Gift baskets are a marvelous way to show thoughtfulness while spreading joy. Curating one for a wedding is no different. Whether it’s a bride designing boxes filled with goodies for her bridesmaids, a maid of honor gathering items for a bachelorette weekend, or a couple putting together welcome bags for out-of-town guests, the thought that goes behind each gift makes the recipient feel special.

While some people have a knack for assembling their own items – especially on Martha’s Vineyard, where goods from artists and artisans are plentiful – sometimes turning to the pros allows you to cross one more thing off your to-do list. Two companies, Martha’s Vineyard Baskets and Martha’s Vineyard Made, specialize in curating unique boxes with local products, allowing gift-giving to be effortless.

Jovana Balaban, owner of Martha’s Vineyard Baskets, believes gifting is an art form. Founded in 2020, her company first started by crafting welcome baskets that Airbnb hosts would present to their guests. “As word of our passion for designing and curating one-of-a-kind gifts spread, we expanded to include other occasions, such as weddings, events, birthdays, hotel gifts, and more.”

Balaban said one of the highlights of curating baskets is that she gets to promote small business makers and their products. “Eventually, it turned out to be a great idea for the wedding industry as welcome gifts for guests to discover little pieces of our Island,” she said.

On the Martha’s Vineyard Baskets website, customers can choose from over twenty pre-made gifts in the “Martha’s Vineyard Collection,” perfect for those out-of-town guests to get a taste of the Island when they arrive. The “Welcome to Martha’s Vineyard” bag, for example, can be personalized with one of four Island-specific town prints and is filled with MV Salad’s dressing, East to West coffee, chocolate from Happyist, Island Bee Company raw honey, Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt, a Rambling Caravan candle, and a photograph notecard by Island artist Barbara Reynolds ($112).

Under the “Wedding Collection,” Balaban offers seven pre-made boxes, but said she enjoys working with couples to tie in themes of their day by customizing the ribbons and tissue paper to coordinate with the wedding’s colors. “We can also create custom welcome cards that include a personalized message from the couple and any other relevant details, such as the wedding schedule and local recommendations,” she said.

Isabelle Crawford

Rachel Baumrin, CEO and creative director of Martha’s Vineyard Made, first launched her business in 2016 as a wholesale repping company that focused on connecting locally made products from different Island farmers, individual makers, and entrepreneurs to visitors.

In 2020, Martha’s Vineyard Made added a retail storefront in Vineyard Haven with a website, which worked in tandem with the pandemic. But, Baumrin said, “The shift to online shopping and connectivity with online platforms was already prevalent. What we wanted our buying experience to be was almost like you were going to the artisan fair or the flea or farmers’ market and picking from several creative items – but with the convenience of purchasing everything at one location,” she said. “As the pandemic started to ease up, we were looking for ways to create viability within both our retail location and website to further support our members.”

Thus, the build-a-box experience was born, where customers can assemble their own items online from over thirty businesses that Martha’s Vineyard Made represents. Products can include goat milk soap from Flat Point Farm, a hand-sewn eye pillow by Austin Designs, salt-and-pepper shakers by SRS Grunden Pottery, or wooden serving boards by Rafter Revivers.

Other pre-designed products from the Martha’s Vineyard Made website include Island “Town Series” gift boxes, for couples who want to share their love for where they’re marrying. These come in three sizes – simple ($50), deluxe ($95), and premium ($165) – and include items such as a pint glass, candle, and tree ornament.

Both companies also offer the option to personalize products through some of the makers they work with. “Vineyard Wick & Bath offers beautiful tin candles that can also be customized with the couple’s design or logo,” Balaban said.

Planning is key when ordering in bulk. Baumrin said her team needs six weeks’ notice to work through the logistics; Balaban said a couple of months for orders over 100. This allows the makers ample time to prepare their products, especially during the height of the summer season.

Both Baumrin and Balaban emphasized, though, that they are always happy to help out at the last minute, if possible.

“It doesn’t have to be a $200 gift basket, but something small, like a chocolate in a beautiful package,” Balaban said. “It means a lot. It shows your appreciation to your guests, bridesmaids, and anyone else related to the wedding to make it just a little bit more special and memorable.”

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