Every year I make a Christmas hamper with the boys for Grandparents, it’s something that not only do I love doing, but it really means so much to the recipient because it has been homemade with love. I just don’t think you can beat it.
One of the things that I’ve started including in my hampers over the last few years is photobooks of the kids making the hamper or special photographs of the kids through out the year. I don’t think there is anything better than giving a memory, which let’s be honest is really what a hamper is about – crafts, photos, home made treats, it’s all about the memories and not just for the recipient but for the giver too. We have such fun making the hampers and the kids know that we will start doing bits and bobs around Halloween – making Christmas cake, making flavoured liquors… the prep starts early over here! Below are a few of the pictures I’ve added to my hampers over the last few years.
The other thing I start to look out for in mid October is hamper baskets. You can get them in so many places but the prices start to get hiked up early November time and you can get some wonderful, unique hampers from flea markets, charity shops and other even car boots. I have a bit of a basket fetish at the moment so I could really claim to collect them all year long, but I think it adds such a lovely touch. I also love looking out for uniquely shaped bottles, jars and gift boxes. If you don’t have them knocking about, make them with the kids with a bit of paper mache – going back to the memory giving, it will mean all the more.
Here is a little list of what we’ve put in hampers over the last few years, for everything that we do we take a little picture and add it to a book or make a personalised label with it.
- Clementine and Vanilla Vodka – I wrote about this last year, and I couldn’t not include it in a hamper, my recipe is perfect for a Christmas hamper, especially as it has been requested by virtually everyone!
- Peppermint creams – So yummy, and beyond easy to make. A small mason jar or even a cardboard box would make these super cute. I like this recipe.
- Handmade chocolates – I have SO many moulds for these, honestly it is a bit obsessive. I would 100% recommend the Lakeland moulds. Pricey, yes. Worth it, yes. You can also find some really good moulds at Hobbycraft and eBay! I’d suggest using a really nice luxury chocolate if you can, but there is NOTHING wrong with good ole Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. The only thing I would avoid is cheap supermarket own brand chocolate, I’ve used it before and it’s not great for melting and re-setting.
- Chocolate truffles – with or without alcohol added. Everyone thinks that these are really difficult to do but they are so easy and taste lovely!
- Salt dough tree decorations – These are SO easy to do and great fun for the kids. The only thing I would be careful with is the baking, they need to be put on a very very low heat or they bubble up! I really prefer the air dry clay that you can buy at Hobbycraft.
- Art work by the kids – So many different ideas for this, from footprint tress to fingerprint reindeers, the list is endless. Check out my pinterest board for suggestions.
- Homemade Limoncello – So much nicer than the shop bought one, I love this recipe here.
- Good old fashioned mince pies – Homemade, shop bought – no one cares. They are a total Christmas hamper must have! My kids love making mince pies even though they aren’t too keen on eating them. I use a rose pastry that contains icing sugar to sweeten it and it is so crumbly.
- Christmas cake -Whenever I do this I never usually make it any later than the end of October/ beginning of November. That way it matures, and once sealed in an air tight container it’s amazing when it’s ready. I also get the boys to help me brush it with either sherry, whisky or (my personal favourite) cherry brandy once a day! I usually add a few cheeses from a local deli to go with the cake. Yum! This year I haven’t had the time/organisational skills and my shizzle has certainly NOT been together enough to sort it out, so I may have to see the difference between the early cake and the late one!
- Luxury cheese board – We’re big fans of Snowdonia cheeses, especially as they have some amazing flavours and their waxes are so bright and colourful, they add a great punch of colour to a Christmas hamper.
- Selections of cold cuts – Coca cola Ham is my favourite, which my mum cooks (she won’t let me do it, I’m not ready for the recipe to be passed down ha!) but you can buy some amazing cold cut selection boxes!
- Homemade cherry brandy – another really easy one to do, another one that is perfect if you on a budget. You need a cheap brandy to take on as much flavour as possible, steam off the label on the brand bottle, fill it up and tie a ribbon on it. Perfect addition to a Christmas hamper or as a stand alone gift.
- Homemade apple brandy – we did this last year and included a picture of the boys picking the apples in my in-law’s garden. It was so sweet and ideal for adding that sweet touch, giving them that memory every time they take a slug (or a glug…)
- Sloe Gin – there is so much to be said for taking the kids to pick sloes, and if you can’t be bothered to make it there are a bajillon brands that make it and make it well.
- Homemade Lemon curd – another one that everyone thinks will be hard to make but it isn’t at all, it’s so easy!
- Homemade chutneys – my favourite is a chilli and tomato jam that my mum makes. You can’t really have Christmas without cold cuts, cheese and chilli jam. Oooh! There are so many though, every recipe app will have an absolutely amazing set of chutneys. They aren’t one to make with the children because of the hot hot hottttt sugar, which can be so dangerous, but they are lush.
- Homemade jams – This is something that Reuben helped me with last year, though I had to take most of the lead because of the extremely hot and dangerous sugar solutions as above. I did let him stir in the ingredients before we heated it and once it had started to cool. Just be careful if you do make this, but do give it a go.
- Handprint baubles – One of my faves as a non-crafty person! So simple and easy, not to mention cheap as chips to do!
- Nut selections with homemade spices – Really easy to do, buy a box of nuts, separate them then choose your spices, you can either roast them or fry them off in a dry pan. So easy to make and then pop in a mini mason jar with different selections.
- Homemade slow cooker fudge – Some wonderful recipes out there for this. So many! I really love this recipe.
- Homemade Christmas card – it’s a simple and effective one.
- Handmade soaps or other bath smellies – buy some shea butter soap from eBay, grab some essential oils and food dye. So fun, smells amazing and is SO easy to do. Good science project for the kids too.
- Homemade Christmas decorations – be it a wreath or a little something using pine cones, they are so easy to make!
- Socks – It doesn’t have to be all food you know. Nice wooly socks to cosy up with are lush in a Christmas hamper. Primark do the best cosy socks.
- A mug with hot chocolate mix – powdered or even with a chocolate spoon in it, it’s just a sweet touch!
- A gift voucher – it might seem a bit impersonal but I think that vouchers are a fab idea when you either don’t know what the person would like OR you maybe know they are saving for something, like when my father in law was after something from the apple store, everyone chipped in. Don’t shy away from the vouchers!
- Pork pie – We have a local place called Rose Cottage that creates the most AMAZING pork pies you will ever try. For real. These just make a nice little addition.
- Vegan snacks – Christmas often sucks at being inclusive, it’s all meats and cheeses, so I think if you have friends who are vegan its really lovely to look into hamper ideas for them. There are SO many good things coming onto the market at the moment, Tesco has a fab range for vegan Xmas snacks and treats.
There are literally thousands of things you could include, and it could be done to suit every single person’s needs. I tend to add more handmade trinkets from the boys for family members, but for friends I may make a tree decoration and fill the rest with cakes, sweet treats, boozy treats and generally tasty things for Christmas – not everyone will appreciate my kid’s mugs in a photobook but i know their grandparent’s can’t get enough of it.
What are your thoughts on personalised hampers?