Over the last few years I have made several gift hampers as people’s Christmas gifts. A gift hamper is basically a collection of items arranged in a pretty basket or container. The filled basket is normally wrapped in cellophane and decorated with a bow. After the introduction below, there is a step-by-step guide on how to produce a pretty gift hamper.
Gift hampers normally contain fancy groceries or toiletries that follow a certain theme. For instance, you often see Italian-themed hampers. These might contain Italian cheese, wine, pasta, biscotti di Prato, panettone, etc. Food- and toiletry-based hampers are ideal gifts for people who have limited space because all of the items will be used up.
While there are many stores that sell ready-made, themed gift hampers, there are two reasons why I prefer making my own. Firstly, I find it fun to do! Secondly, if you choose your items carefully, you can normally make a hamper with more content for the same price as a store-bought hamper. Note that online stores often charge a lot for delivery. So unless you are planning to post your homemade hamper, you will also save on delivery costs. The third reason I like to make my own gift hampers is that I can pick and choose items that particularly suit the recipient. So I can make it personal to them. When buying a store-bought hamper, it is sometimes difficult to weigh up which hamper is the most suitable because they normally always have one or two items that you think won’t be used. Having said this, I have seen online stores that allow you to pick items individually. They then make the hamper for you. So this is an option if you don’t mind paying for delivery.
The first hamper that I made contained all kinds of spicy food, such as spicy table sauces, hot salsa dips, chilli-flavored potato chips, stir-in curry sauces, spicy poppadoms, etc. I chose this theme because the recipient loved hot and spicy foods. I contained the items in a store-bought, fake shopping basket made of chrome.
Another hamper that I have since made contained entirely gluten-free products. I made it for my Mum, as she requires a gluten-free diet. As gluten-free products are sometimes difficult to come by, I collected the products over several months. I made sure to check the “use by” dates as I didn’t want anything to be spoiled before or even just after Christmas. I used a material-lined basket for this hamper.
Most recently, I made a mini hamper containing various lavender-scented toiletries and personal care items. I placed the items, along with a few decorative pine cones, on a Christmas-paper-lined straw plate and covered the lot with cellophane.
Ideas on how to make a Christmas gift hamper
- Decide roughly how much you would like to spend (optional!).
- Choose a theme. While hampers normally contain food, you could make a hamper containing just about anything. For instance, if the recipient is a keen gardener, include some seeds, tools, gardening knee pads, bird food, and outdoor accessories. If the recipient is going away somewhere on vacation, consider making a hamper containing a guide to their destination, a suitable phrasebook, and some suitable travel essentials (e.g., adaptor, water filter, mosquito net, mini toiletries, earplugs etc.). Art-lovers may appreciate a hamper containing art supplies and, if they are beginners, an instruction book. Hampers containing toiletries are always a popular option, espeically for ladies. Cranberry based toiletries would be particulary suitable for Christmas. Some food theme suggestions are as follows: chocolate, tea/coffee, cheese and wine, traditional Christmas food, Mexican food, Indian food, Scottish food, etc. The possibilities are endless…
- Choose a pretty container (or even platter) that you think will be able to hold the right amount of items. If you will need to carry the finished hamper any distance, bear in mind the size and weight that it might be. Try to pick a container that the recipient can use in some way. If possible, pick a container that is in line with your chosen theme. Here are some container ideas: straw basket (these are often light weight), metal serving platter, plant pot, tray, plate, wooden box (of recycled wood would be good), light-weight bird bath, and bag.
- Start collecting items to put in your hamper. It is best to start early so that you don’t run out of time. By starting early, you will be able to easily purchase a wide range items from various stores. Always check the “use by” dates on food, drink, and toiletry items. If needed, go back to the store at a later date to get products with later “use by” dates. You can always add a relevant non-food item to a food-based hamper. For instance, you could add an Indian cookbook to an Indian food hamper, a mini-fondue set to a chocolate-based hamper, a cheese grater to an Italian-based hamper, etc. One piece of advice I offer from personal experience is to be conscious about how many items you purchase. It is very easy to get carried away and buy loads more than will fit in your container!
- There are various ways to put your hamper together. For instance, you can put your items in your container and then wrap the whole thing with cellophane. Alternatively, you could wrap your items in one large piece of cellophane before they go into the basket. In both cases, the cellophane can be taped invisibly underneath or gathered at the top and tied with a bow.
- There are many ways to decorate your hamper. Depending on how you put it together, it may already have a pretty bow holding the cellophane together. You can include decorations within the cellophane, so amongst the items, or on the top on the cellophane. Tinsel, ribbons, mini (shatter-proof) baubles, and holly are some suggestions. Once again, you could use decorations that are linked to the theme. For instance, if it is a French-themed hamper, you might decorate it with a few garlic bulbs tied with a ribbon. Just use your imagination!
- You may want to wrap the hamper in opaque Christmas paper (in addition to the cellophane) so that the gift remains a surprise!