The 12 Best Sympathy Baskets in 2021

Send love and support by way of delicious treats

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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 they 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.

Our Top Picks
This basket has something for everyone, from foodies to picky eaters.
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For comforting confections, you can't beat this assortment.
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This creamy curation features 3 pounds of the shop's six best-selling cheeses.
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Eat everything on its own or assemble a charcuterie board to share with family.
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Godiva has long been a go-to for high-quality chocolate, and this beautiful box is no exception.
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Four jam-packed pints feature flavors they’ll almost certainly love.
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It's beautiful, practical, and equally thoughtful.
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This box will turn any bad day or tough break into something sweet.
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Juicy fruit and complementary pairings make this basket a true standout.
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It’s kosher-certified with a mix of classic and fun flavor combinations.
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Best Overall: Harry & David Grand Sympathy Gift Basket

harry-and-david-grand-sympathy-gift-box
What We Like
  • Great assortment

  • Express two-day shipping

What We Don't Like
  • Perhaps a little old-fashioned

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 seasonal pears, garlic-stuffed olives, flaky baklava, seasonal apples, sharp white cheddar cheese, smoked salmon, and more. It also comes with a special pre-printed “with sympathy” tag, letting the recipient know that you’re there for them through their difficult time.

What's Included: Eight seasonal pears, two seasonal apples, smoked salmon, sharp white cheddar cheese, Sicilian Jack cheese, olive oil and sea salt water crackers, baklava, garlic-stuffed olives, honey-hot mustard, and mixed nuts

Best Baked Goods: Harry & David Sympathy Bakery Gift Tray

harry-and-david-sympathy-bakers-tray
What We Like
  • Many tasting offerings

  • Looks and smells lovely

What We Don't Like
  • A lot for one person

This gift tray includes delectable pastries, from baklava to sweet apple loaf cake. You’ll find lemon 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.

What's Included: Wolferman's lemon poppyseed coffee cake, apple streusel loaf cake, cinnamon swirl, baklava, chocolate decadence cake, raspberry galettes, four lemon shortbread cookies, two walnut chocolate chunk cookies, four white chocolate raspberry cookie bars, and four German chocolate cookie bars

Best Cheese Sampler: Murray's Cheese Cheeses of the World Sampler

murrays-cheese-cheeses-of-the-world-sampler
What We Like
  • Not ultra-perishable

  • A great assortment

What We Don't Like
  • Easy to recreate for yourself for less

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.

What's Included: Mitica Drunken Goat, Pyrénées Brebis, Murray's Estate Gouda, Piave, Murray's Cave-Aged Gruyere, and High Plains Cheddar

Best Cheese Board: Lady & Larder Medium Cheese Board

lady-and-larder-large-cheese-board
What We Like
  • Great for hosting

  • Lovely assortment of artisan snacks

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

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 being a gorgeous assortment from a women-owned company—is that it comes with its own cutting board and plating guide. Plus, the cheese-loving 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 Cheese, Tulip Tree Trillium's beloved bloomy-rind triple crème, sliced prosciutto, heritage-breed salami, Malibu Honey, olive oil and sea salt crackers, organic pistachios, and apricots from B&R Farms. You could not find a more scrumptious and stunning collection.

What's Included: Charlito's Cocina Campo salami, Casella's sliced prosciutto, Tulip Tree Trillium triple crème, Point Reyes Bay blue cheese, Santa Barbara Pistachio Company organic pistachios, King Orchards tart-dried Montmorency cherries, B&R Farms dried Blenheim apricots, Peacock Family Farms flame raisins, Rancho Meladuco Medjool dates, Malibu Honey, Lady & Larder's olive oil and sea salt crackers, and mini honey dipper

Best Chocolate: Godiva Assorted White Chocolate Gold Gift Box

Godiva White Chocolate Assortment Gift Box Gold Ribbon
What We Like
  • Many different flavors

  • Beautiful packaging

What We Don't Like
  • Not sustainably sourced or produced

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 various flavors, including raspberry puree, hazelnut praline, dark chocolate ganache, and a cashew raspberry caramel cluster with a dark chocolate medallion. For shapes, the recipient can expect delicate hearts, stars, seashells, and more.

What's Included: Three white praline heart pieces, three hazelnut praline raindrop pieces, three twilight swirl pieces, three white ganache bliss pieces, six white demitasse pieces, two raspberry star pieces, and two raspberry cashew caramel cluster pieces

Best Unexpected: Harry & David Sympathy Ice Cream Assortment

harry-and-david-sympathy-ice-cream
What We Like
  • Stash in the freezer until it’s ready

  • A unique gift

What We Don't Like
  • Takes up a lot of freezer space

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 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”).

What's Included: 1 pint of chocolate ice cream with chocolate chunks, 1 pint of mint chip ice cream, 1 pint of cookies and cream ice cream, and 1 pint of sea salt caramel ice cream

Best Floral: 1-800 Flowers Ever Blooming Sympathy Fruit & Nuts Crate

1800-flowers-fruit-and-nuts-case
What We Like
  • Not perishable

  • Good for snacking

What We Don't Like
  • Not safe for those with nut allergies

If you’re on the hunt for a great snacking option, the search stops here. This lovely and distinctive tray is tasty, nutritious, and well-designed. It includes roasted and salted almonds and cashews, dried fruit and dates, date nut rolls coated with coconut, and more. The fruits are arranged in the shape of petals in bloom, making this edible gift a tasty alternative to flowers. It's beautiful, practical, and equally thoughtful.

What's Included: Roasted salted almonds and cashews, dried pears, dried peaches, dried apricots, dried Angelino plums and dates, date nut rolls coated with coconut, and dried Blenheim apricots

Best Gourmet: Mouth Bummer Box

mouth-bummer-box
What We Like
  • Small-batch artisan treats

  • Great for the sweet tooth

What We Don't Like
  • Not for the savory snacker

With a name like “Bummer Box,” you may not want to send this in response to a death or a 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, potato chips, chocolate and peanut butter popcorn, beer and caramel pretzel nuggets, and more. It will turn any bad day or tough break into something sweet.

What's Included: Chocolate and peanut butter popcorn, beer and caramel pretzel nuggets, large bag of potato chips, chocolate sea salt almond butter, and heirloom hot chocolate

Best Fruit: The Fruit Company Classic Gourmet Gift Box

the fruit company classic gift box
What We Like
  • Fresh seasonal fruit

  • A wonderful fresh option

What We Don't Like
  • Easy to recreate for yourself

We love this basket brimming with fresh options. It includes two Fuji apples, one Granny Smith apple, two mini apples, one French d'Anjou pear, one Columbia red pear, one Malibu navel orange, 3 ounces of chocolate-covered cherries, one beef summer sausage, plus 6 ounces of Face Rock aged cheddar cheese, all in a gourmet gift box. You can even customize the gift box with a special occasion ribbon or a touch of fine art that can be purchased at an additional cost. Is it an assortment that you could put together yourself using things you found at the grocery store? Yes, probably. But, the quality of the fruit and the ability to send it directly to their door makes this one worth it.

What's Included: Raspberry shortbread tea cookies, chocolate-covered cherries, beef summer sausage, honey wheat crackers, Face Rock aged cheddar cheese, two Fuji apples, one Granny Smith apple, two mini apples, one French d'Anjou pear, one Columbia red pear, and one Malibu navel orange

Best Budget: Broadway Basketeers Thinking of You Gift Tower

Broadway Basketeers Thinking of You Gift Tower
What We Like
  • Accessible price

  • Personalized gift message

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers say it’s smaller than expected

This tower of goodies measures over a foot high and includes cinnamon yogurt pretzels, assorted fruit puffs, chocolate drizzled caramel popcorn, gourmet cookies, Lindt chocolate truffles, and sweet and savory snack mix. 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 on a card at checkout.

What's Included: Cinnamon yogurt pretzels, assorted fruit puffs, chocolate drizzled caramel popcorn, gourmet cookies, Lindt chocolate truffles, and sweet and savory snack mix

Best Wine: Gift Tree The Premier Selection Gift Basket

gift-tree-premier-selection
What We Like
  • Comes in leather tote

  • Includes sweet and savory snacks

  • Customize ribbon with a personalized message

What We Don't Like
  • May not ship to all states

For those who like to unwind with a glass of vino, this leather tote features three bottles of wine: Pierce Canyon Reserve Cabernet, Bandon Hills Chardonnay, and Tesca Cabernet Sauvignon. There's also 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, Ghirardelli dark chocolate, Lindor white chocolate truffles, oatmeal tea cookies, and more. Each basket is tied with a ribbon, and you can upgrade the ribbon with a personalized message at an additional cost.

What's Included: Albanese gummy bears, Bandon Hills Chardonnay, Bernal Manzanilla olives, Camembert cheese, dark chocolate barrel-aged bourbon caramels, Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares, Lindor white chocolate truffles, Godiva signature roasted almond dark chocolate mini bars, milk chocolate cherries, olive oil and sea salt crostini d'Italia, Marich English toffee caramels, roasted garlic rye chips, oatmeal tea cookies, white cheddar popcorn, Pierce Canyon Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tesca California Cabernet Cauvignon

Best Basic: Eli Zabar Build a Sandwich Basket for 6

zabar sandwich basket
What We Like
  • Great for NYC food lovers

  • Provides easy meals

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

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, but sometimes, people need basics, too. Not everyone wants to face the grocery store during a time of healing, which is why this gourmet care package from New York City's Eli Zabar is especially great for those who aren't within driving distance. It 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 kinds of bread (Jewish rye and brioche), and mustard.

What's Included: 1/2 pound pastrami, 1/2 pound sweet salami, 1/2 pound spicy salami, 1/2 pound sliced Swiss cheese, 1/2 pound sliced Munster cheese, two assorted breads (Jewish rye and brioche), and mustard

Final Verdict

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). 

FAQs


We spoke with Jill Cohen, CT, a New-York based family grief counselor, to clarify etiquette around sympathy gifts.

How do you express sympathy?

If it is a work colleague whom you are sending a sympathy basket, try to stick to basics since you may not know them or their family well enough to know their tastes. Consider a fruit basket, a platter of sandwiches, or maybe cupcakes if kids are in the house. An assortment of teas or coffees can also be nice. 

For a family member or friend, be specific and personalized since you know their tastes. Send a basket of their favorite things. You can also add a comfort item, like a miniature stuffed animal, throw blanket, attractive blank journal, photo frame, a gift certificate for a massage, or something special. Another thoughtful gift is a certificate to a restaurant that delivers. This will be appreciated, especially sometime down the road when the food gifts are all used up.

What should or shouldn’t you write on a sympathy card?

If you know the person well, share a story about the deceased that will make them come alive in memory. Write about the person’s character traits that you admired. Offer support. Remind the griever that you want to help in whatever way you can, and let them know that they are not alone.

Don’t write, “I know how you feel.” You don’t know how they feel because every grief is unique. Instead, you can write, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now. I’m thinking of you.” 

What types of food and other items are most helpful?

If you’re sending a food basket, consider fruit or other items. Grievers usually get overwhelmed with baskets of goodies, like cakes, cookies, and chocolates, that they end up giving away because they can’t eat it all. Perishables can spoil if not eaten, and sometimes proper storage is limited, too.

If there is a situation where people will be coming to the bereaved family's home, consider sending over a case of club soda or an assortment of flavored waters or soft drinks. People have to remember to hydrate, especially in stressful times.

Is it okay to send money with a card as an expression of sympathy?

Only if it is clear that there is a need and if the family has mentioned financial difficulties in paying for the funeral and taking care of expenses in the future. It's a sensitive topic, but you want to make sure the gesture will be well-received by the family and not cause embarrassment. 

Should you send thank you cards to people who send sympathy cards and/or gifts?

Yes. Whenever possible, send a thank-you note to those who send gifts. If the response to death and the number of people was overwhelming, ask a friend or neighbor to help acknowledge the gifts. 

When is a good time to send someone a sympathy basket?

You can send a sympathy basket at any time. Right away is fine, and so is later. You can even send something a few months later if necessary, with a note like, “Still thinking of you.”

Should I still send something if I know they’ve gotten a lot of other sympathy gifts?

The bottom line is that any gift will be considered thoughtful. No gift will be turned away. And, in case of overload, friends and neighbors will enjoy the leftovers. It’s the expression of sympathy that counts.

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.

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