'The best feeling ever': Local woman makes custom Christmas baskets featuring personalized letters from Santa

When Candace Masengale was furloughed from her job during the height of the lockdowns in 2020, she knew she'd need to find a way to stay busy.

Masengale, who lives in Williamsburg, has a natural talent when it comes to arts and crafts, and she's always loved pouring herself into creative endeavors. She fondly recalls her mother-in-law making "the cutest themed gift baskets and boxes for the holidays." So as the pandemic continued to drag on, she decided to try her hand at creating unique baskets of her own.

Candace Masengale.

To test out the viability of turning the idea into a small business, Masengale reached out to a few realtor friends to see if she could help them with closing gifts. She received an overwhelmingly positive response.

That's when Daisy's Baskets – named after Masengale's favorite flower, the daisy – was born.

In the short span of time since then, the startup has evolved to offer a variety of gift boxes and baskets for all kinds of occasions, including holidays.

Today, Masengale places a special emphasis on customizing her products. She recently invested in a laser engraver and offers personalized cutting boards. She also purchased a heat press machine, which she uses to create unique t-shirts, cups, tumblers and more.

Masengale said that in addition to the products featured on her website, other baskets and gifts are also available upon request – and she enjoys the challenge of tackling new projects.

"I love it when I get asked if I can do something and I haven't done it before,” she said.

A holiday basket created by Masengale.

One of Masengale's especially creative offerings is a Christmas gift box for children, which she dubs the "Santa Box." It includes a personalized letter from Santa; a stuffed Santa Claus toy, featuring the child's name; a Christmas ornament craft project with paint; candy or chocolate and "magic reindeer food." The cost of the box is only $35.

Masengale said she came up with the idea because she wanted to create something that Santa and his elves would actually send to a child. She said the toy Santa in the box even features a push button that plays Christmas music.

In addition to the seasonal "Santa Box," Masengale makes a "Christmas Eve Gift Box," which features personalized pajamas, a holiday book and a customizable cocoa mug with hot chocolate and candy canes. There's also an "Oh Christmas Tree" basket, which includes a mini Christmas tree, a holiday movie, chocolates and a soft blanket.

Masengale ships the boxes for a flat fee or hand-delivers them locally in the Williamsburg area upon request.

Masengale's "Oh Christmas Tree" gift basket.

While Masengale truly enjoys crafting the custom baskets, she said the process of launching the startup hasn't always been easy.

Like many other small business owners, she's struggled to get the word out about what she offers. She's hopeful that with enough time, patience and persistence, she'll be able to expand the business.

"I want to keep growing my business and maybe one day have my own little shop," she said.

Masengale keeps a limited amount of supplies on hand because all of her baskets are customized. Nonetheless, she can fulfill larger orders with enough notice. She recently completed a corporate order for 55 baskets, she said.

Beyond baskets and boxes, Masengale sells gift items like seasonal wreaths, hand-painted porch signs and personalized Christmas stockings and ornaments.

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All items can be ordered directly from the Daisy's Gift Baskets website. Masengale also runs an active Facebook page that she uses to answer questions, communicate with customers and highlight product offerings.

"I love creating these beautiful baskets for everyone," Masengale said. "Seeing their reactions when they get one of my baskets is the best feeling ever."

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