Have you ever noticed the effect baskets have on every day objects? Demitri Martin noted it when he said, “If you ever handed somebody some apples, they’d be like ‘what the heck?’ But the second you put them in a basket they go ‘this is nice!'”

    The gift basket effect came over my office the other day when we received our first gift basket of the holiday season. In this fine woven container where caloric offerings of every kind, from sweet to savory, had been lovingly placed in a cradle of straw was redemption. There were corn chips and bean dips and pretzels and salsa. Chocolates and candies and whiskers on kittens. Julie Andrews? Sorry about that.

    No sooner had I placed the basket in the kitchen than the ravenous horde my co-workers descended on its shiny plastic-wrapped goodness.  After five minutes the chips, dips, chocolates, cookies, candies, and cheese had been torn apart and divided among everyone. The basket and its shiny paper sat abandoned on the kitchen table, bits of ribbon and straw floating aimlessly in the air.

   However, before this snack induced massacre happened, I was able to observe one other aspect of the gift basket effect.

   When my co-workers emerged from their offices, disgruntled and harried from a week of deadlines and computer glitches, and saw that basket, their faces changed. Their tightly knitted scowls softened into, dare I say it, smiles. They gathered and looked one another in the eye, rather than rushing past each other in the hallway to use the copier.  

    Over chocolate covered Oreos they laughed.

    While sharing spicy bean dip they told jokes.

    In opening candied fruit they let go of their stress and just chilled.

    The idea of the gift basket has always seemed ridiculous to me, but maybe I’ve been wildly off-base all this time. For some reason that basket was able to make the office a bit nicer for the rest of the afternoon. Above all it made people laugh. Laugh! You don’t usually hear much laughter in daily office life. This is work. People are stressed out. Things get hectic around here and we forget to laugh and breathe and, really, just be human. Even though I sometimes scoff at it, I can appreciate the effect that gift basket had on my office.

    God rest its soul.

    Seriously, they mauled the crap out of that basket. It was like a scene out of Planet Earth.