Hampers can be a lovely way to show someone you know them well by gathering all the things that they love into a basket. But on the contrary, they can also be a great gift for someone you don’t know so well, because if you fill them with Christmas tastiness they are bound to go down a treat anyway.
However, pre-packed hampers can be very expensive and most of the time it’ll be significantly cheaper to make your own. Knowing which items to buy from where can also help to keep the costs down.
I love a good chutney; whether it be caramelised onion or a plum and apple – simply delicious. But, the prices in the supermarkets vary a lot – often it’s £2/£3 a jar, but Aldi do a fantastic range of chutneys for just 99p each. So grab a few jars, in a range of flavours if you like, and a box of crackers and the hamper starts to take shape.
If you’ve got a spare afternoon, chutney is actually very simple to make and has only a few ingredients, so this could make the gift more thoughtful if you have the time. Make a larger batch and decant into old jam jars or buy preserve jars from your closest hobby store, label by hand and tie with a ribbon for a really lovely extra touch.
Moving on to another important hamper item – chocolate! If you know the recipient well, take the time to select their favourite sweet treats to go into the hamper. Shops such as Home Bargains and B&M are great for popular choccies such as Maltesers and Milk Tray, often at a fraction of the cost of the same branded products in the supermarkets. Aldi is great for a dark chocolate lover as Moser Roth dark chocolate is just £1.49 a bar and comes in a variety of different flavours, the packaging is luxurious too.
Another hamper favourite is booze! Again, shops like Aldi and Lidl offer some brilliant prices on alcohol, as do the bargain stores. Lots of the supermarkets also do reductions around the Christmas period, so keep your eyes peeled when you are doing your weekly shop. If you collect points, such as Tesco Clubcard or Nectar Points, saving them up is a great idea and can enable you do some free Christmas shopping or pay very little for those tipples and other luxury items when December arrives.
To really personalise your hamper, baking is a thoughtful way to show that you know someone well, and it often costs very little if you raid the pantry. It’s also a great way to get the children involved, particularly if the gift is for a family member. See my other posts for easy gingerbread cookies, lemon shortbread and chocolate fridge cake recipes. Homemade Stollen or mince pies make great seasonal gifts too. But, if you’re not a baker, you can always buy a fruit cake and decorate it beautifully to make it special.
Hampers don’t always need to be edible goodies either; they also work well themed to suit the recipient’s interests. I recently made a gardening hamper for my father-in-law who wanted to start a vegetable patch. I filled the basket with a kneeling pad, lots of packets of seeds, heavy duty gardening tools, a gardening book, gloves and lots of other goodies – it looked great and he loved it. Other themes might be pamper goodies, reading, sport, movies, cooking, DIY – the ideas are endless.
Make sure you shop around to get a good price on the hamper basket, as these can set you back a fair bit depending on the size. Sometimes the best bargains for baskets can be found on second hand selling pages or in the charity shops, and it’s always better to keep your eyes peeled throughout the year if you know you’ll need them. Then, when you are ready to seal your hamper, head to your local florist who can cut you the right amount of cellophane for next to nothing! Tie with a lovely ribbon, or a homemade Christmas decoration, and you have a lovely, thoughtful Christmas gift.