The giving and receiving of gifts is a true highlight of the festive period. Unfurling beautifully wrapped delights by the light of the fire surrounded by your nearest and dearest is one of life’s great joys. However, you may find that some people are easier to buy for than others.
So, what do you get the person who has everything? A hamper, of course!
Christmas hampers are tokens of appreciation and goodwill between loved ones; the beauty is that you can tailor them to suit the fussiest of characters. Granted, if you’re short on time, you can always head to a luxury department store and purchase a ready-filled hamper, from which you can guarantee excellent quality. But to add more of a personal touch, why not compile a hamper from scratch? Here are some ideas for goodies to include.
The Hamper Itself
First and foremost, you’ll need to source a hamper. You could opt for a small wicker basket or a large, picnic-style hamper with buckles to keep your goods secure, both of which can be found at craft stores and online. It is advisable to add a fabric or paper lining and padding in the form of shredded paper. If you plan on including glass jars or bottles, padding will reduce the risk of any breakages.
Christmas is a time for indulgence, and what better way to celebrate than with luxurious velvety chocolates? Whether your recipient favours the bitter smoothness of dark chocolate or the rich creaminess of white, be sure to include a box or two of their favourites. You could even opt for some artisan chocolates crafted by hand and made to order from expert chocolatiers.
Cheese is synonymous with Christmas - the richer and more fragrant, the better. If your recipient is partial to a cheese board, you could include a range of their favourite varieties. The best cheese boards comprise a healthy balance between hard, semi-hard, soft and bleu cheeses. For a hard cheese, consider a nutty Parmigiano Reggiano. For a semi-hard variety, a mild, salty Edam is perfect. Gooey Brie or Camembert are excellent soft cheeses, and for bleu, consider a sharp, pungent French Roquefort.
Biscuits and Crackers
Biscuits and crackers are the perfect accompaniments for fine cheese. While plain old cream crackers and water biscuits are fine, consider pushing the boat out with herbed artisan crackers, crisp melba toasts and authentic Italian breadsticks. Don’t forget the sweet varieties - include your recipient’s favourite biscuits, scones, shortcakes and cookies, perfect for dipping in their hot beverage of choice. You could even harness your inner culinarian and bake your own hamper treats - try your hand at colourful macarons or fruity Florentines.
A bottle of fine wine is a staple of any Christmas hamper. Christmas wines are exceptionally popular during the festive season, so provide your recipient with all the ingredients they need to make a warming, aromatic mulled beverage, ideal for chilly winter evenings. Alternatively, they may prefer something a little lighter or drier, in which case, a crisp, refreshing Riesling or Chardonnay might be a better choice.
Jams and Chutneys
Other fantastic products for complementing cheese, biscuits and wine include jams and chutneys. Jam and chutney making is equal parts an art and a science. With the correct balance of ingredients and a little patience, you can craft a range of delectable preserved delicacies. For those who’d prefer not to get their hands sticky, you can purchase high-quality, hand-made condiments and conserves at farm shops and artisan food markets.
Coffee and Tea
We all love a brew on a cold winter’s day, so keep your recipient’s tea and coffee cupboard stocked by including a range of fine tea and coffee beans into their hamper. Consider calming chamomile or fragrant Earl Grey to vary from traditional English breakfast tea. Flavoured coffee blends, such as hazelnut and caramel are also an excellent way to shake up a morning routine.
Suppose your recipient isn’t all that much of a foodie. In that case, treat them to a DIY home spa day with a fabulous array of self-care products, including bath bombs, soaps and soothing skincare products. Again, for an extra personal touch, you could attempt to hand-craft some of these products, using ingredients like beeswax, shea butter and essential oils.