I love giving thoughtful and personalised gifts to my loved ones but dread the hassle and stress of shopping for them. Personally, I would much prefer to spend an afternoon in my kitchen, listening to Christmas tunes and sipping on something festive than going into battle with the shops or even clicking around with online shopping to find the perfect gift. I would love to share with you some Christmas hamper ideas, which to my mind, capture the spirit of the season whilst not breaking the budget.
I’m in a season of life where I’m embracing the Christmas season with simplicity and thoughtfulness while keeping to a budget. My favourite thoughtful gift is a Christmas hamper basket. To date, my Christmas hampers have been filled with homemade goodies and delicious food there are so many ways that you could put together different styles of Christmas gift hampers based on your time, resources, and who your recipients are. In the name of simplicity this year, I’ve chosen five delicious and simple recipes that I can knock out in the afternoon.
I made Christmas hamper baskets for the first time last year and I chose slightly more complicated items to make, such as homemade cold-pressed soap, pickles, cordial, fruit cake, limoncello, and biscuits. These were super fun to make, and I did break it down by making just one or two things a week over November. But I can’t do that this year. Hence, I’ve chosen a slightly different strategy of being able to do it all in one afternoon.
In this post, I’d love to share with you:
- Some homemade Christmas hamper ideas that you might like to create for your Christmas list
- What I’m putting in my Christmas hamper, including the recipes I’ve used
- Putting your Christmas hamper baskets together and packaging.
Planning Your Christmas Food Hamper
The best thing you can do when making your hamper is planning ahead! This will help you avoid the stress and hassle of last-minute shopping or baking.
If you have perishable items in your hamper, that’s okay. You can still work out what you’re going to put in your hampers and gather the different ingredients and supplies you’ll need. I find that starting as early as October is an ideal time, for collecting non-perishable items such as jars, gift tags, craft supplies, boxes, ribbons, labels, flour, sugar, chocolate, dried fruits, nuts, spices and so on.
Time for Tea and a Notebook
Sit down with a nice cup of tea, pen and paper, and make a list of your recipients and the specific date you need to have them finished. If you’re like me and enjoy having a Christmas organisation binder that you can bring out each year, you’ll have your gift lists from previous years and this is a great jumping-off spot and makes the whole process a lot faster. I’ve followed the Fly Lady’s Christmas planning schedule for the past two years and love how calm and enjoyable it has made this time of year. I’ve shared my love for the Fly Lady system over here.
Decide on your theme, what you want your hampers to be, and your budget overall, and then divide that by the number of gifts you need to make. This way, you’ll know how much you have to spend on each hamper, which will determine the size and the number of items that you need to make.
Making your Christmas hamper baskets can be a part of the Christmas season kickoff, such as involving your family if your kids are old enough, inviting a best friend or sibling over, and making it an annual tradition to make hampers together for your combined Christmas lists. Play some festive music and sip on something festive – my favourite combo is Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas tunes with ginger cordial with pomegranate juice.
Christmas Hamper Ideas
One of the great things about making your own Christmas hamper baskets is that you can tailor them to suit different recipients. You may like to make the same few hampers and then have a couple of different sizes. For example, for my close family members, I’m going to give them one of everything I make. But for neighbours and for people I want to say a simple thank you to (such as my yoga teacher, acupuncturist, hairdresser etc.), some homemade shortbread in a cellophane bag and card will do. Some other Chritsmas hamper ideas:
Sweet Treats Hamper for The Sweet Tooth
Made with mince pies, gingerbread stars, shortbread, chocolate bark, chocolate truffles, and fudge.
Savoury Hamper & Bottles of Wine
Parmesan sables, regular crackers, a bottle of wine, local olive oil, olives, marinated capsicums, pickles, and relish.
Advent Calendar-Themed Hamper for the Whole Family
A little something for each week of December leading up to Christmas. This could be a fun and creative way to give a family Christmas hamper. You can include a book to read, some kind of activity, a brownie mix in a jar, and a board game.
Pamper Hamper of Beauty Products
Fill these with handmade skincare and bath products. This is something that I’ve made in years past and it’s always a hit. Things that are really easy to make include foaming hand wash, candles, body scrub, bath bombs, lotion, body spritz, lip balm, and aromatherapy rollers.
What I’m Putting in My Christmas Hamper This Year
This year, I’m choosing a balance of savoury and sweet items for my Christmas hamper baskets. I brainstormed a list of all the Christmas hamper ideas using recipes that are either super simple or I’ve made many times before and refined my list to five.
These delicious, moreish biscuits go well with wine or cheese platters. They are made with cheddar cheese and Parmesan and have a lovely buttery texture. Something about these biscuits just reminds me of Christmas, and they are always a hit with my family and friends. I’m using this recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly.
Fresh apricot jam
Apricots are at their peak here in central Victoria at this time of year. One of my neighbours has a tree laden with fruits, and he has very kindly offered us a couple of kilos that I’m going to be turning into a very simple and delicious jam. This jam is perfect for spreading on toast, scones, or biscuits, and it has a lovely bright colour and flavour.
Chocolate pistachio fudge
This is a Nigella Lawson recipe from her book, Nigella Express. It is super simple and easy to make, and it results in rich and decadent bites of chocolate fudge with lovely flecks of green from the pistachios – very festive!
It would not be Christmas in our family without shortbread. I use an old family recipe that comes from my great-grandmother. My mum always made a large batch of shortbread every Christmas, so it feels particularly festive and meaningful for me to include these in the hampers. This recipe only has three ingredients: butter, flour, and sugar, making them very budget friendly., They look particularly beautiful when made into stars with a little silver ball in the middle.
Herb and spiced nuts
This is a minimal effort, maximum output recipe. I’m using fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme from our garden, and a little touch of cayenne pepper and salt and maple syrup to give them that lovely salty-sweet combo. These can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.
Suggested Workflow for Making These in an Afternoon
If you’re wondering how to make these delicious items for your Christmas hamper baskets in an afternoon, here’s a suggested workflow:
Preparation the Night Before
- Make your Parmesan sable mixture, roll it into logs, and pop it in the fridge overnight. This will make it easier to slice and bake the next day.
- If you have bought shelled pistachios, deshell them so that they are ready to go for the fudge the next day. You can also chop them roughly if you like.
- Put butter for shortbread on the counter so that it’s room temperature for the next day. This will make it easier to cream with the sugar and flour.
The Next Day
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Cut your Parmesan sables into thin slices and arrange them on one of the trays. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the sables are baking, get your pot of apricot jam going on the stove. Wash and chop the apricots, and place them in a large saucepan with sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and jammy. This will take about 40 minutes. Spoon the hot jam into sterilised jars and seal tightly.
- Make the chocolate pistachio fudge by melting dark chocolate, condensed milk, and butter in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. Stir in the vanilla and salt, then fold in the pistachios. Pour the mixture into a lined square tin and smooth the top. Refrigerate until set.
- Make the spiced nuts by tossing mixed nuts with maple syrup, butter, rosemary, sage, thyme, cayenne pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Spread them in a single layer on the other baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, stirring once, until toasted and fragrant. Let them cool completely on the tray, then transfer to cellophane bags.
- Make the shortbread. Depending on how many shortbreads you’ve made, you may need to do an additional batch or two in the oven. While they are baking, you can do the final cleanup of the kitchen get yourself a nice cup of tea and put your feet up for 15 minutes!
Package Them Up
- Once everything is cooled and packed, arrange them in your Christmas baskets or boxes. Don’t forget to label each item. You may like to even do a little type-up of what’s in the hamper and a list of ingredients if that’s something that your recipients would appreciate. Print this off and pop it in the box.
Christmas Hamper Ideas for Packaging
Once you have baked your delicious goodies for your Christmas hamper baskets, you need to think about how to pack and deliver them. This will depend on whether you mail them to distant family and friends or hand them over in person.
If you are mailing your hampers, I find that an enclosed gift box works best. I like to use tissue paper to pad everything out so that they arrive intact. Make sure you label your boxes clearly and securely and check the postage rates and delivery times before you send them so that they arrive by Christmas day.
If you’re gifting your hampers in person, you have more options for packaging. A wicker basket or seagrass baskets come up beautifully, and you can use wood wool or shredded paper to fill and decorate your hamper. You could also line your basket with a lovely festive tea towel that becomes a part of the gift. It’s another great clutter-free and thoughtful addition. You may like to also include some festive touches, such as sticks of cinnamon, branches of evergreen, or pine cones if you have any cedar or pine trees growing nearby.
If you are super organized and enjoy thrift shopping, you could even start collecting small Christmas baskets throughout the year to save up for your Christmas hamper creations. This way, you can reuse and repurpose them, and save some money and resources.
The Joy of Gifting Homemade Gifts
While they take a little bit of planning and organisation, a homemade Christmas hamper is a clutter-free, heartfelt gift that shows your care and appreciation for your loved ones. The hampers produce minimal waste, they won’t clutter up your loved ones homes, and they will be able to enjoy many moments of consuming these delicious treats. A piece of fudge with a cup of tea after a long day of festive activities, some yummy cheese biscuits on a platter when unexpected guests come over, or some apricot jam on their morning toast.
I would love to hear if you feel inspired to make your own hampers this Christmas, and what you’ve included in them. I’m always gathering more ideas for next Christmas, so please share your Christmas hamper ideas in the comments below!