Gift hampers are an extra-special foodie gesture, whether you're buying for Christmas, a birthday or other celebration. Read our review of top hampers, including food and drink, booze, cheese and much more.
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As a special gift all year round or a bounteous Christmas indulgence, hampers should be stuffed with exotic treats and taste sensations. For all-year-round deliveries, there’s plenty of choice, with confectionary, preserves and chutneys a real staple throughout the year.
The sky is the limit when hamper shopping, but as we see here, £20 gets you a lovely gift, £100 will please most party hosts and £500 will supply a showstopper of a basket.
Consider whether the recipient of this delivery will have room to store contents, especially in the run up to Christmas when fridge and freezer space is in demand. Many of the boxes here include jars and sealed items that can stay in the pantry for months, but each individual supplier should be able to fill you in on best-before dates.
Keep checking back here on the run-up to Christmas 2019 – we’ll be adding to this edit to include newly-launched, fresh, pre-Christmas hampers with treats and top-quality ingredients for the festive table.
This time, we've thought about the special deliveries that work for the rest of the year, or those allowing you to prepare for the party season well in advance. So read on for the best ‘all killer, no filler’ baskets and boxes we’d certainly love to receive.
Best hampers to buy for Christmas
Yorkshire Favourites Hamper, £90, Keelham Farm Shop
Best hamper for snack lovers
This was the hamper that scored highly with lovers of nibbles, rather than full-on gastro ingredients. We think it would make a nice gift for a weekend host, especially if your time together is more about chatting on the sofa than at a cordon bleu table. There are some familiar brands here, with some favourites – Taylor’s of Harrogate tea and a tub of salted Yorkshire Crisps.
Not so well known, and a delight to discover, were the likes of Yorkshire Heather Moorlands honey and a rich Proper Nutty peanut butter, which was a perfect balance of smooth and crunchy. Grandma Wilde’s shortbread melts were a more buttery, denser bite than the Scottish version and went down a storm, as did Lottie Shaw’s ginger parkin.
Honeycomb chocolate, orange cremes and brandy snaps were top class too, and although Yorkshire is not renowned for its champagne production, we’d be foolish to question the option of a bottle of Lallier Grand Cru for an additional £25. Add to that Keelham’s handwritten card (just add your message online) and you have a very nice, homely hamper packed full of good things.
Best of Sussex Hamper, £445, The Hungry Guest
Best fresh hamper
The Hungry Guest sells the cream of the crop from their shop, bakery and food production bases in West Sussex, and this hamper celebrates the very best the county has to offer. It's a hefty wedge to pay for a hamper, but this really is a box of delights.
Using gold-standard fresh ingredients, the range and class of content here is astounding, with every single treat emerging from the straw to ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. A side of Weald Smokery salmon, a giant, fresh pecan pie and an organic honey and mustard-glazed ham are big enough to cater to a house full of guests.
Gooey brownies, handmade chocolates and enormous cheeses from Goodwood drew noises of approval during testing, and there were delicious smoked venison and duck slices, too. Every single component in this hamper impressed. There’s a sizeable booze component to this selection, with wines (an Albourne Estate selection white, a Stopham Estate pinot grigio and a sparkler from Nyetimber) silencing anyone who didn’t rate English labels before the bottles were opened.
There are beers and ales, plus a strawberry liqueur to sample, but it’s the Chilgrove gin that’s a special treat; using grapes rather than grain in its distillation certainly makes for a silky smooth G&T.
The Ilkley Hamper, £100, Bettys
Best traditional hamper for tea lovers
Pairing Yorkshire tradition with continental indulgence has been the hallmark of the famous institution since Swiss baker and chocolatier Fritz Bützer founded the first Bettys tearoom in Harrogate 100 years ago. There's no need to queue for a table with this classic all-year hamper – let it come to you.
You'll find plenty here that will delight lovers of elevenses and afternoon tea, including shortbread, stem gingerbread and a tart raspberry conserve. The real star of the show for us, though, is the fruitcake, full to bursting with juicy Yorkshire tea-soaked fruit and the crunch of sugar on top of each indulgent wedge.
If you don’t fancy a brew using the house blend tea or coffee, open the very agreeable bottle of easy-drinking, citrussy sauvignon blanc.
We loved the presentation of this gift – the hamper itself was deeper in dimension than the others we looked at and of great quality, packed with glossy, recycled ‘straw’.
An indulgent selection, this Bettys box will appeal to every generation, with classic cake for the oldies, Insta-worthy dipped florentines for and creamy milk chocolate Langue de Chats for children. Put the kettle on, someone!
The Piccadilly Hamper, £100, Paxton & Whitfield
Best cheese hamper
This classy presentation box from the royal warranted cheesemonger arrives cool-packed, stuffed with a truly top-notch selection for laying out a showstopper of a board. Order this for a cheese lover and you will definitely be in the good books; as one of our testers commented, 'it's an absolute treat and screams quality.' Even those who can take or leave the cheese course were impressed with the range and grade of the delights pulled from the straw in this special delivery.
We particularly enjoyed the creamy, cloth-wrapped cheddar pounder and potted stilton, topped with clarified butter. Dorset goat's cheese, a celtic soft and a smoked cheddar truckle added to the spread, with the choice of crackers and bakes here boosting the flavour experience, rather than merely serving a base for the main event.
Adding some of the punchy apple and chilli jam to a bite of soft cheese was a taste sensation; alternate a tiny piece of the rich sloe, fig and almond slice with stilton and you may well reach cheesy nirvana.
The Ultimate Christmas Box, £105, Donald Russell
Best meat hamper
Feel overwhelmed by Christmas prep or want to send a very practical gift? Donald Russell has the answer. This box of frozen food festivities arrives with everything you need – bar the veg – for the perfect Christmas lunch. There are also versions of this delicious selection that come with pre-prepared veg, such as red cabbage and sprouts, but we saved freezer space and went for fresh.
There’s no compromise on quality, thanks to the calibre of turkey included. The bird is 5kg of French Loué Free Range perfection, which can be cooked from frozen in around three hours and 15 minutes. Do make sure you have a working thermometer or probe to ensure this turkey reaches the recommended 74 degrees, before leaving to rest for 30 minutes. We followed to the letter and found it moist, gamey and everything you'd want from the big bird on Christmas Day.
The trimmings are traditional – a quality, no-shrink streaky bacon, sausagemeat and ready-rolled pigs in blankets. The box is topped off with a Mosimann's Christmas pudding, which was so rich and unctuous with fruit we had some leftover for a late night fridge raid.
This Donald Russell deal is a beauty of a gift to send to a stressed-out party planner, pre Christmas, or to contribute to your host's supplies over the festive season. Worth noting, though, is that it'll arrive in a giant polystyrene box rather than a pretty hamper. We can forgive that, as it’s packed so expertly with ice bags, insulation and full instructions on how to cook everything.
The Organic Red Wine Wicker Hamper, £75, The Goodness Project
Best hamper for healthy eaters
It's a relief to be presented with a hamper full of goodies that aren't bad for you. If you rate quality over quantity, then this organic-only box is worth considering. The small wicker hamper comes wrapped in a glossy ribbon, with a full and flavoursome bottle of San Vito organic chianti inside as its centrepiece.
The accompanying organic sweet and savoury snacks are perfect to nibble on as you drink – the lemon and rosemary olives and the dark chocolate almonds were our favourites. Ingredients here were more varied in theme than in other hampers. It had everything from sea salt caramels and roasted soya bites with chilli, to green tea with orange blossom and even a humble pack of wholemeal digestives.
The Thursday Cottage strawberry jam got rave reviews, compared to other conserves in our line-up, as did the Booja Booja organic truffles with almond and sea salt. A really good selection for those mindful about food ingredients or who want a good variety in their hamper.
Best of Italy Hamper, £95, Sous Chef
Best hamper for pasta lovers
The perfect present for a food lover who knows the importance of high-quality ingredients and how much they can do to elevate even a simple plate of pasta. We love Sous Chef for their gastro gifts (everything from Middle Eastern pantry essentials to Korean cooking kits).
Now, they deliver traditional hampers with not-so-traditional contents. Choose between ingredients from France, Spain and – our favourite – Italy. We particularly loved the packaging of the enclosed items, like the Acquerello risotto rice in a tin, a bright rainbow container of Frantoio Muraglia extra virgin olive oil, and a boxed glass decanter of rich 8-year-aged Defrutum balsamic vinegar.
The mainstay of our basket was two generous portions of egg Pasta di Aldo. We cooked the cuttlefish chitarrine with our own simple vegetable broth, serving with prawns in garlic. The saffron tagliatelle needed nothing more than a glug of the aforementioned oil and a twist of pepper to hit the spot, but we also tried some with the enclosed jar of tomato sauce with Taggiasca olives, which made for a full-on flavour hit.
There was something for sweet lovers too; Sicilian pistachio appearing in both a cream (amazing smeared on panetonne) and creamy, bite-sized chocolate Pariani Pistacchiotto.
Teacup and Saucer Wicker Hamper, £19.99, Lakeland
Best budget hamper
Surprisingly, much-loved kitchen gadget shop Lakeland also stocks a range of food hampers and gifts, with lots of lovely jam selections and Christmas indulgences, which is great for long-distance gift sending. Lakeland's customer service is exceptional, so for a fiver you can ask for this to be gift-wrapped with a personalised note.
This is a cute little hamper that will hang around the table long after the ingredients have gone – we’d use the cup and saucer as a breadbasket or tray for scones and jam. It has only four treats to offer, but that’s just enough for a solo recipient.
There's raspberry jam (just add scones), crumbly lemon biscuits and a fantastically moreish Bramble House fruitcake that’s stuffed with glace cherries and sprinkled with chopped almonds. As for your accompanying cuppa, that’s from New English Teas, with English Breakfast bags included. If you're not familiar with the company, they're known for their fancy tins and caddies, but the product itself is excellent.
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