So tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I know for a fact that there are people out there in a mild panic about Christmas shopping.
You probably already know that I have Scrooge-tendencies from some posts I have previously written about Christmas.
It isn’t so much that I’m a Scrooge, it’s more that I don’t subscribe to all of the ‘stuff’ that everyone feels the need to do and buy in the run-up to Christmas. I mean, how much does it all really matter?
That said, I’m not totally dead inside, and when my mother sent me off to my new house this week with a beautiful hamper in tow, I was feeling pretty special and pretty loved.
I’ve been a hamper fan for many years. Ian and I bought hampers for our parents after we got married as a thank-you gift for everything they had contributed to our wedding (it was a lot!).
To me, hampers symbolise luxury and decadence whilst at the same time demonstrating thoughtfulness for the recipient.
You can usually individually-select each item in the hamper, so it will be perfectly tailored for the loved-one you are purchasing it for.
In my case, mum had not gone to a hamper-company for my hamper – she had created it herself. For me, this made it even more special. She had gone to the trouble of finding food and drinks that Ian and I particularly like and had found a perfect box to contain it in so it was beautifully-presented.
So, to give you some last-minute inspiration for an easy, DIY gift that you can do today in your favourite supermarkets, without the stress and hassle of the local high-street, I’m showing you a little of what mum did with her hamper.
You’ll need something aesthetically-pleasing to contain your hand-selected items in. I don’t know if mum bought the box first and then filled it up, or vice versa, but I would say that the easiest way to do this would be to source a box or wicker-basket first. It will be easier to buy items that perfectly fit into it than the other way round.
Mum found our box in Waitrose, and after briefly checking online, they are selling wooden crates for this exact purpose. You can purchase a box or crate from any shop that sells homewares, crafts shops like Hobbycraft or even garden centres. And you can make it as big or small as you like.
As well as a box, you’ll need some clear plastic to wrap the filled hamper with. This will keep everything together and it will look more finished than an open box.
You will need a pretty ribbon to tie your covering together at the top, and to attach a label.
To present the gifts beautifully inside the box, source some colourful shredded tissue paper. You can get this in larger supermarket branches or if you live near a local independent stationer or art shop, you can get it there too. If you were feeling particularly thrifty, you could even use a paper shredder to shred some old newspaper, and use that.
Mum colour-coordinated the label with the shredded paper, which looked super-festive in red. She also ensured that the contents appeared to be spilling out of the box, as opposed to looking lost inside the box. You want your hamper to be brimming.
This is probably the easy bit. My sensible side would say to make a list of the things that the recipient likes and head to your favourite supermarkets to get them.
However, the stuff that is contained in hampers is usually the tasty, luxury items that you’d see on the shelf and buy after the lure of the lovely branding. So you may as well head straight to the booze section or snack sections and pick up the luxury items that you know they will adore.
In our case, mum headed to a combination of Waitrose, Aldi, HEMA and M&S. Ian and I are fans of most food-stuff from Waitrose, so she couldn’t have gone far wrong in there.
Aldi sell some of my favourite chocolate items, and both Lidl and Aldi sell a stellar range of gourmet goods at exceptional price-points.
Think about your recipient’s tastes. Do they prefer sweets or savouries? What is their favourite tipple? Select items based on these.
Items that do not require refrigeration work particularly well as you can assemble your hamper in advance and not have to worry about items in the fridge.
If you’re particularly handy in the kitchen, you could add items that you’ve made like homemade jams or pickles. My friend Renee gave me a bottle of infused-vodka when she visited me the other week. This would have been a perfect item in a hamper.
Of course, you don’t have to stick with food. You could create a themed-hamper based on a person’s particular interests. But, as we’re short on time now, you may just want to stick with a food-based hamper that you can put together from your supermarkets or local independents today.
When I opened up my hamper this week, I felt incredibly special knowing that mum had worked so hard at sourcing all of the delicious treats, as well as assembling it so beautifully. Although it cost her money (I hate the materialism at Christmas), it was infinitely more special than a bottle of perfume or token pair of socks. The effort she’d put in was impossible to ignore.
So before you join the masses and hit the high street in search of the ‘perfect’ dressing gown or slippers, why not head for some food shops, pick up some tasty treats and assemble a gorgeous hamper for your loved-ones?
What would you find in your perfect hamper?