Friday, November 28, 2014

Everything you ever wanted to know about Christmas Hampers!

Giving someone a hamper full of festive tasty treats for Christmas is now a well-established tradition. But how did it start?

The history of the hamper
You may be surprised to learn that giving someone a hamper of food dates right back to William the Conqueror. Originally a French tradition, the concept of giving baskets of treats for a special occasion was introduced to England in the 11th century.

It was after the development of the railways during the Victorian era that the tradition of giving Christmas hampers really started. As the railways grew, it became much easier to send perishable items right across the country before they spoiled. Employers, such as those with large estates, also used to give their employees hampers at Christmas as a kind of bonus. Ensuring that all their staff had enough food and drink to enjoy a happy Christmas.


Hampers in the USA
Once the idea of giving hampers came across the pond to the United States, it quickly expanded and is the basis of the whole concept of gift baskets. As you probably know, gift baskets are now given for almost any occasion. From welcoming a new neighbour with scones or cookies, to luxury beauty products for a birthday - or a hamper full of nappies and toys for a baby shower.

Ready made Christmas hampers
There are many companies that sell pre-made hampers, consisting of a whole range of tasty and festive foods and treats. These typically include smoked meats or hams, cheeses, fruitcake or plum pudding, relishes, jams and wine or port. More modern versions may include olive oil, handmade pasta or even champagne and caviar.

You can also find speciality hampers that are suitable for people with special dietary requirements, such as wheat or dairy allergies. You can even buy vegetarian, vegan and organic hampers these days.


Homemade Christmas hampers
You can even put together a hamper yourself for a more personalized gift. It’s easy to source the wicker hamper itself; you don’t need to opt for an expensive artisan version. Many homeware stores are a great source of cheap baskets, boxes and ‘storage solutions’. Then you can have fun choosing what food and drink to include, depending on the person you’re giving it to.

If you’re really going for a personal touch, you could make the food and treats yourself. Make a batch of cookies, mince pies or chocolate sweets. You can even personalize them by writing the recipients name on some items with icing. Or, if you have a stock of homemade pickles and jams, you can add these too for a mix of sweet and savoury flavors.

Don’t forget your presentation skills. You can fill the hamper with store-bought hay or shredded tissue paper before adding your items. Or, you could even shred some of last year’s wrapping paper for a festive touch. And finally, invest in plenty of ribbons to tie to the handles and make everything look pretty. Opt for festive colours such as red and green, and maybe include some gold touches too.

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