A festive hamper is an integral part of Christmas gift-giving. Woven wicker baskets filled with sweet treats, savory delights and bubbling fizz all topped off with a bright red ribbon – it's these gifts which provide a huge amount of sentiment for relatively little effort.
Every year the shops of London's finest luxury stores tempt us to their windows with boxes spilling open the contents of their edible goodies. But compiling your own hamper is a much more purse-friendly and thoughtful alternative to buying one in a shop.
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Your loved ones will adore that you've put time and effort into their presents which can be personalised to suit the person you have in mind. Whether your friends or family fancy delicacies and culinary oddities they wouldn't dream of buying at any other time of year, or simply a trove of smelly treats for the bathroom – the choice of contents is up to you.
But let's not forget the essential edible fillers that no classic Christmas basket would be without.
Support British products with a delicious and locally produced cheese. A board decorated with savoury slices of stilton, cheddar or crumbly Cheshire topped off with a couple of grapes provide harmonious flavours that bring together any lightmeal.
No hamper is complete without a good chutney or jam – they're not only a great accompaniment with a variety of cheeses but are the best friend to the leftover meat that will no doubt be in abundance come Boxing day.
Add to your hamper a bursting festive flavour by using up the basis of your Christmas Pudding mixture to make a spiced chutney. Alternatively, stir up an award-winning preserve such as Vivien Llyod's Apricot and Orange Chutney recipe, which recently won Fortnum & Mason's chutney competition. Packed full of seasonal citrus peels, its fruity tones will carry the preserve right through winter to the rest of spring as a great addition to cheese scones for Afternoon tea.
For a tipple to top off your gift why not take your hand at brewing some home-made sloe gin. The sweetness of this spirit will perfectly complement Christmas meats and puddings.
Finish off by decorating your basket. This part is extra fun so get the kids involved with attaching little Christmas ornaments and ribbons to the handle or go crazy with the paints.
A simple tip to make your hamper look professional is to place taller items around the edges of the basket and work your way in to smaller items in the centre.
Don't forget to line the basket with some sort of filling. Pine cones, holly berries and shredded wrapping paper gives your hamper the ultimate holiday feel whilst also keeping items in place.