This is very doable. You could prepare one iPad the manner you prefer and store that backup image in iTunes.
Each new iPad could be booted into restore mode (hold the home button while the iPad is off and connect it to the computer, holding the home button.)
You can then restore your image onto the iPad. Shut off the iPad, re-wrap it and optionally put your card in the box so the recipient is reminded you set it up personally for them. You can easily be quite neat and do all this with the Aapple wrapping around the iPad itself nearly undisturbed except for the tab by the dock connector. It folds back well and the weight if the iPad soon makes it perfectly re-sealed.
Shrink wrapping the outside iPad box again gives the recipient that brand new feeling.
The licensing of your sales apps needs to be discussed so as to avoid the user from losing them on a restore without a backup. You have several options there from enterprise signing, volume purchase, custom app through apple or plain old gifting once the recipient sends your their Apple ID. But, the iPad will work out of the box and you have time to follow up with each recipient to keep them going.