Great ideas, mish!
I make baskets for gifts quite often. Like you said, with dollar stores, you can be very generous and creative on a buget. I'll do them for bridal showers and include an assortment of kitchen gadgets and towels, some little foodstuffs, candles, whatever sorts of things I think will appeal to the recipient. I often spend the most money on the container itself and use a nice large mixing bowl, a picnic basket, etc (and you can still find good deals on these at place like Marshall's or TJMaxx).
-A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand