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It can be hard to know what to say when a loved one is going through a difficult time. Perhaps a friend, family member, or pet passed away or was diagnosed with an illness. Maybe they’re going through a tough time at work or lost their job.
In offering your condolences, it can be nice to show that you care by way of food and drink. Whether the recipient is a wine lover, cheese fiend, or has a sweet tooth, a curated collection of goodies is a kind way to let them know they're in your thoughts.
Here are the best sympathy baskets.
Best Overall: Harry & David Grand Sympathy Gift Basket
Harry & David is famous for its gift baskets, and once you send or receive one, it’s easy to see why: They’re bounteous, crowd-pleasing, and thoughtfully curated. There’s something for everyone, from foodies to picky eaters. The Grand Sympathy Gift Basket is especially impressive, brimming with famed Royal Riviera Pears, garlic-stuffed olives, flaky baklava, seasonal apples, sharp cheddar, smoked salmon, and more. It also comes with a special “with sympathy” tag, letting the recipient know that you’re there for them through their difficult time.
Best Baked Goods: Harry & David Sympathy Bakery Gift Tray
This gift tray includes delectable pastries, from baklava to sweet apple loaf cake. You’ll find lemon citrus shortbread cookies, Wolferman’s lemon poppyseed coffee cake, raspberry galettes, walnut chocolate chunk cookies, and more. For comforting confections, you can't beat this sweet assortment.
Best Cheese: Murray's Cheese Cheeses of the World Sampler
If your loved one enjoys cheese, but you don't know their exact preferences, leave it up to the experts at Murray's Cheese. While you'd be hard-pressed to find something unfavorable at this New York City-based shop, the Cheeses of the World Sampler features its six best-selling cheeses, including 1/2 pound each of the following: Mitica Drunken Goat, Pyrenees Brebis, Murray's Estate Gouda, Piave, Murray's Cave Aged Gruyere, and High Plains Cheddar. The masterful 3-pound curation feeds five to seven people and arrives in its very own Murray's Cheese gift box.
Best Charcuterie: Lady & Larder Medium Cheese Board
As far as we’re concerned, there are few things cheese can’t cure. The beauty of sending the Lady & Larder Medium Cheese Board—aside from it being a gorgeous assortment from a women-owned company that comes with its own cutting board and plating guide—is that the recipient can eat everything on its own or assemble a charcuterie board to share with family. It comes with world-renowned Point Reyes Bay Blue, Cowgirl Creamery's beloved Mt. Tam Triple Crème, heritage-breed prosciutto, uncured salami, Malibu wildflower honey, sourdough flatbread bites, nuts, and fruit from California family farms. You could not find a more scrumptious and stunning collection.
Best Chocolate: Godiva Assorted White Chocolate Gold Gift Box
Godiva has long been a go-to for high-quality chocolate, and this beautiful box is no exception. The gold-accented and bow-tied gift houses 22 creamy white chocolates in a variety of flavors, including raspberry puree, hazelnut praline, dark chocolate ganache, and cashew raspberry caramel cluster with a dark chocolate medallion. For shapes, the recipient can expect delicate hearts, stars, seashells, and more.
Best Unexpected: Harry & David Sympathy Ice Cream Assortment
We’ve all heard of a sympathy fruit basket, but when’s the last time you heard of someone sending sympathy ice cream? For an abundance of frozen treats, go with the Sympathy Ice Cream Assortment from Harry & David. It includes four jam-packed pints in flavors that the recipient will almost certainly love: chocolate with chocolate chunks (dubbed “Pint of Compassion”), mint chip (“Tub of Hugs”), cookies and cream (“Scoops of Support”), and sea salt caramel (“Thinking of You”).
Best Healthy: 1-800 Flowers Ever Blooming Sympathy Fruit & Nuts Crate
If you’re on the hunt for a healthier option, the search stops here. This lovely and distinctive crate is tasty, nutritious, and well-designed. It includes roasted and salted almonds and cashews; dried pears, peaches, apricots, plums, and dates; date nut rolls coated with coconut; and more. The fruits are arranged in the shape of petals in bloom, making it a tasty alternative to flowers. It's beautiful, practical, and doubly thoughtful.
Best Gourmet: Mouth Bummer Box
With a name like “Bummer Box,” you may not want to send this in response to a death or serious illness. On the contrary, if someone is having a hard time in a less permanent, life-altering way, it may be the right move. The snacks are unparalleled. There’s heirloom hot chocolate, chocolate sea salt almond butter made by artisanal producer Big Spoon Roasters, small-batch potato chips, chocolate and peanut butter popcorn, beer, caramel pretzel nuggets, and more. It will turn any bad day or tough break into something sweet.
Best Fruit: The Fruit Company Classic Gourmet Gift Box
This basket features juicy fruit and complementary pairings, including one Malibu navel orange, one Columbia red pear, one French d'Anjou pear, two mini apples, one Granny Smith apple, one Fuji apple, one 6-ounce aged cheddar cheese from Oregon's Face Rock Creamery, honey wheat crackers, one 5-ounce beef summer sausage, chocolate-covered cherries, and raspberry shortbread tea cookies. There's also a larger version (view at The Fruit Company), which includes the above, plus chocolate zebra popcorn, six sea salt caramels, two Royal Comice pears, and an extra Malibu navel orange.
Best Budget: Broadway Basketeers Thinking of You Gift Tower
This tower of goodies measures over a foot high and includes blue “cheeze” pretzel nuggets, vanilla apple caramels, caramel popcorn with chocolate and peanut butter drizzle, chocolate chip cappuccino cookies, cracked pepper and sea salt popcorn, and chocolate s'mores pretzels. We like that it’s kosher-certified with a mix of classic and fun flavor combinations. Plus, you really can’t beat the price. While it’s not exclusively branded as a sympathy gift, you can personalize your message in a card at checkout.
Best Wine: Gift Tree The Premier Selection Gift Basket
For those who like to unwind with a glass of vino, this leather tote bears three bottles of wine (Pierce Canyon Reserve Cabernet, Bandon Hills Chardonnay, and Tesca Cabernet Sauvignon) and a lovely lineup of sweet and savory snacks, including Camembert cheese, olive oil crostini, Manzanilla olives, chocolate-covered cherries, Gardetto's Snack Mix, butter toffee caramels, white cheddar popcorn, roasted garlic rye chips, gummy bears, Ghirardelli dark chocolate, Lindor white chocolate truffles, oatmeal tea cookies, and more. Each basket is tied with a ribbon and sent with a complimentary card featuring your personalized message. A premium version swaps the above wines for Meiomi Pinot Noir, Illario Chardonnay, and Boundary Post Pinot Noir.
Best Basic: Eli Zabar Build a Sandwich Basket for 6
When we think of sympathy baskets, our minds often jump to flowers, chocolate, baked goods or fruit. These are all incredibly thoughtful and comforting gifts, although sometimes, people need basics, too, and not everyone wants to face the grocery store during a time of healing. Especially great for those who aren't within driving distance, this gourmet care package from New York City's Eli Zabar includes all the fixings for an easy lunch or dinner: 1/2 pound of pastrami, 1/2 pound of sweet salami, 1/2 pound of spicy salami, 1/2 pound of sliced Swiss cheese, 1/2 pound of sliced Munster cheese, two assorted breads (Jewish rye and brioche), and mustard.
If you’re looking to send a basket overflowing with gourmet snacks, go for the Harry & David Grand Sympathy Gift Basket (view at Harry & David). For something a little more unexpected, it’s hard to beat a surprise charcuterie board, which is why we recommend the lovely Lady & Larder Medium Cheese Board (view at Williams Sonoma).
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Writer and professional eater Christine Clark is an avid sharer and enjoyer of all things delicious. Her love languages are food and gift-giving. She has a cheese podcast, a fridge that is always too full, and a very lived-in kitchen.