It's the height of cold and flu season. And that means it's also the prime time of the year for sending out a "Get Well" basket to someone you love.

But let's be honest: What kind of message of concern does another ho-hum basket of teddy bears and Mylar balloons really convey? That you're thoughtful enough to send the very best -- or just the very blasé?

With that in mind, we scoured catalogs and online sources for the most creative "Get Well" baskets we could find -- ones that have the right humorous edge to lift someone's spirits or the right antidote (think chicken soup) for fighting a nasty bug. In other words, no teddy bears or Mylar balloons in these picks, but plenty of goodies of a different sort.

For Those Who Need a Laugh
"Stand Up Comedy" basket
Price: $69.95 with three DVDs (larger versions are available)
Call 877-218-GIFT or visit the Web site .

What a riot! This basket contains (what else?) DVDs of some always-amusing comics (Robin Williams, Dennis Miller, Dennis Leary), plus a fun assortment of movie-themed snacks, including the sort of super-sized candy offerings (Raisinets, Twizzlers) you'd expect to find at your local megaplex. A few cool movie memorabilia items, from T-shirts to baseball caps, are featured as well. If comedy is not your recipient's thing, the company offers the same kind of package, but with different DVDs -- everything from "Inspirational Sports Movies" to an "Indiana Jones Collection."

Stand Up Comedy basket

For Those Who Need Another Laugh

Beyond Bookmarks
"Get Well Sooner" basket
Price: $44.99 (larger version available)
Call 866-746-5133 or visit the Web site .

This company makes baskets especially targeted for the college-age crowd, but its whimsical offerings are sure to be appreciated by all. Take this one: It comes with everything from "The Little Cold Book" (full of helpful tips) to a stuffed microbe (better than a teddy bear!). Keep digging through the shredded paper and more surprises await -- a thermometer strip, a vitamin C-infused drink mix, cough drops and even a can of chicken soup. If you care less about the "Get Well" theme and just want to send a really fun basket, consider "The Stuff Box."

Get Well Sooner basket
Photo: Beyond Bookmarks

For Those Who Want to Stock Up on Their "Medicines"

"Get Well Medicine Cabinet"
Price: $59.95
Call 800-379-4065 or visit the Web site .

Yes, an actual cabinet, suitable for hanging (hardware included). But the basket (er, cabinet) is as much a gag gift as something useful, since the "medicines" inside are items like jelly beans and chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, all amusingly disguised as pills. That said, a mini first-aid kit and a can of chicken soup are included for those seeking some real comfort or medical attention. More traditional baskets, from "Comfort Candle" to "Chocolate Decadence," are also available.

GiftTree's Medicine Cabinet

For Those Who Just Want Some Chicken Soup

Grandma's Chicken Soup
"Cold & Flu Cure-All Kit"
Price: $64.50
Call 877-363-7687 or visit the Web site .

This is the real deal when it comes to chicken soup by mail -- a half-gallon container with some of the best homestyle "Jewish penicillin" we've ever tasted, replete with noodles, veggies and bits of chicken. (It looks homemade, too.) But this kit ups the "cure-all" ante by including some cold-care essentials -- tissues, teas, cough drops -- all packaged inside a jumbo ceramic mug that's meant to be used for the soup. If you want the soup alone, it's available for $29.50; other offerings package the soup with everything from a teddy bear to a fleece blanket.

For Those Who Eat Healthy
"Wellness Gift"
Price: $44.95
Call 800-455-7020 or visit the Web site .

Got fruit? That's what this company specializes in -- and the "Wellness Gift," with "simple and natural foods to bolster good health," is no exception. This assortment comes with four pears, two apples and two oranges, plus tea and honey. The difference between's offerings and the ones inside your standard fruit basket is quality --'s is simply fresher and sweeter. If you think your recipient might prefer a particular type of fruit, no problem: has gift boxes with just pears, apples, oranges or tropical fruits.

GotFruit Wellness Gift

For Those Who Don't Count Calories

"Food Nurse" Get Well Gift Box
Price: $75
Call 888-636-8162 or visit the Web site .

We're not so sure if a nurse would prescribe what's inside this package -- a sour cream coffee cake, brownies, a loaf of chocolate sourdough bread and French-style salami, among other treats. But it's all so delicious, who cares? Just don't send this to someone who can't taste anything because of the sniffles, because it would be a shame for them not to be able to appreciate it. Looking for other options? This legendary Ann Arbor, Mich., gourmet deli turned mail-order purveyor carries it all, from chocolates to artisan breads.
Charles Passy is a Florida-based writer who covers food, travel, entertainment and consumer culture and products.

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