Happy Holidays: 10 Essential Elements of British Christmas Hampers

Christmas Hamper


Cookies, and meats, and candies, oh my!

These are just a few of the things that Christmas hampers are made of.

These traditional British baskets, which originated in France nearly 1,000 years ago, are brimming with delicious and decadent treats that bring a smile to the faces (and taste buds) of the recipient.

Whether you're giving a Christmas basket to a friend, coworker, or as a baby shower gift, there are a few items all traditional hampers should include. 

Ready to design a custom basket for the one you love or simply need help shopping for the best hampers?  

Keep reading to learn about the most common items found in a Christmas hamper and how to add your own, personal touch! 


1. Baked Cakes and Pies

Baked goods, including mince pies and fruitcakes, are some of the most nostalgic additions to any Christmas food hamper. 

Mince pies are synonymous with the holidays in British culture. While there are countless recipes to choose from, most mince pies consist of a flaky buttery crust and mincemeat filling. Traditional fillings are a combination of dried fruits and spices. 

Some of the most popular mince pie flavors are bold citrus orange, tart cranberry, and sweet apple. Spices include nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Add a festive flair to the pies using a unique decoration as the top crust layer. A star, tree, or holly design adds a cheerful touch. 

Do you prefer cake over pie? Fruitcakes are another popular sweet treat found in most Christmas hampers. 

No Christmas holiday (or hamper) would be complete without a Yule log.

Yule logs are rolled and filled sponge cakes frosted with chocolate buttercream icing. The outside of the cake is decorated to resemble the tree bark of a real log. Some people get extremely creative with their designs even adding edible cobwebs, mushrooms, and holly sprigs.


2. Candy and Chocolate

In addition to cakes and pies, decadent chocolates and candies make a sweet addition to any Christmas hamper.

Everyone loves chocolate! Add an assortment of dark, milk, or white chocolate filled with caramel or ganache. White chocolate is often colored using traditional Christmas colors like red and green. 

Other fan-favorites include chocolate covered pretzels, nuts, and fruit. Truffles are an indulgent choice found in luxury hampers like this one

Just remember that if your basket contains chocolate you may want to have it delivered overnight or closer to Christmas day.


3. Pudding and Biscuits

Last on the list of sweet treats to include in a classic Christmas hamper are traditional British biscuits and pudding.

Biscuits come in a variety of flavors and are similar to shortbread cookies. Many biscuits are savory, made with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Others offer a richer, sweeter flavor like those made of pudding.

These traditional treats are often housed in beautiful, shiny (reusable) tins. 

Similar to the filling found in a mince pie, Christmas pudding is a combination of thirteen ingredients including dried fruit, spices, egg, suet, and molasses. The ingredients are held together to form a dome-shaped mold. The thirteen ingredients represent Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. 


4. Wine and Champagne

Alcohol is a popular gift around the holiday season. With friends gathering to enjoy food and drink together, why not add a few bottles of carefully-selected wine or liquor to your Christmas hamper?

Select a wine that perfectly compliments the food items you choose. 

Red wine pairs best with bold-flavored red meats. If your hamper includes smoked meats or sausages, pair it with a rich Cabernet. Red wines also go perfectly with dark chocolate. 

Gifting smoked salmon or other fish? White wines including Pinot Noir and Zinfandel taste best. Port wine is a favored sweet, after-dinner wine. 

Nothing says "celebration" quite like the sound of a popping champagne cork. Recipients will love a bottle of bubbly to enjoy during Christmas Day dinner or to ring in the New Year. Engraved flutes add a personal touch to your gift.

If the recipient of your gift prefers to indulge in non-alcoholic delights, you can add fresh ground coffee and tea bags to the basket. Flavored coffee and tea is a popular choice in many Christmas hampers and one that people can enjoy throughout the holiday season.


5. Meats

When you think of Christmas dinner, what comes to mind? A succulent turkey or glazed ham, of course. The meat is the center of any feast and the same holds true for your Christmas hamper.

While modern-day baskets don't normally showcase entire ham hocks or turkey breasts, there are plenty of other ways to include meat in your offerings.

Thinly sliced ham and prosciutto, as well as spicy sausage and pepperoni, are popular choices. Cured meats travel well, whereas certain meats should be delivered on dry ice or chilled.

Pâté is spreadable, non-perishable, and goes perfectly with breadsticks or water crackers, as seen in this Executive gift box


6. Seafood Delicacies

Christmas hampers grew in popularity alongside British transportation. As the railway system became more sophisticated in the late 1800s, so did the contents of a traditional Christmas hamper.

One of the most luxurious and decadent items added was salmon. The wealthiest of citizens would often include salmon in luxury hampers for friends and family.

The taste of smoked salmon is appealing to almost any palet. It's subtle and buttery with a gorgeous, rich color that adds elegance to any Christmas hamper. 

But salmon can also be sweet and savory. Thinly sliced with a mild flavor, salmon can be served as a Christmas Eve appetizer, Christmas dinner side, or even on Christmas morning with bagels and soft white cream cheese.


7. Cheese 

Speaking of cheese, gourmet cheese spreads, wheels, wedges, and blocks are one of the more savory items you can add to any Christmas hamper. Some popular cheese selections include cheddar, gondola, and Red Leicester.

Cheese is a welcomed addition to any celebration and perfect for creating elegant cheeseboards alongside water crackers, breadsticks, and biscuits. Some cheese hampers include jarred olives, relish, and peppers that are non-perishable and showcase bold flavors.

Similar to chocolate, cheese pairs perfectly with wine but also requires fast delivery.


8. Preserves and Chutney

On the sweeter side of things, jams and preserves are popular spreads found in traditional hampers. Homemade additions like these add a personal touch to your gift.

Popular flavors include raspberry, strawberry, and rhubarb. Preserves are delicious with traditional British biscuits or toast and crisps on Christmas morning. Lemon curd and orange marmalade are also popular breakfast choices.

Looking for something a bit more savory? Chutney is a sauce or spread made of chopped, pickled vegetables and spices that pack powerful full-bodied flavors. Ingredients include onions, ginger, figs, and mint. Sweeter varieties include mango, raisin, and apricot. 

Boxing Day (the day following Christmas) is when many families gather to top-off the holiday festivities with one more celebration.  These sweet and savory spreads will liven up those leftover meats, biscuits – and cheeses and guarantee no crumb is left behind!

Boxing Day is also a time to show appreciation to employees with these expertly-crafted corporate hampers.


9. Non-Food Items

Although most Christmas hampers are designed around edible treats, there are some non-food items you can include. 

The Christmas hamper was first created in the 11th century as a charitable gift for poor or impoverished families in need. At this time, the baskets included non-perishable food items as well as household goods like clothing.

Today's Christmas hampers are crafted using mostly food, but non-edible additions include reusable tins, coffee or teacups, wine glasses, a cheese or cutting board, and spreaders. 


10. Presentation is Everything

Last on the list of items every Christmas hamper should have is the basket itself. Presentation is everything when it comes to designing a gorgeous, heartwarming gift. 

Baskets are the most popular hamper choice and come in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs. For heavier items, a sturdy basket with an arching handle or latch is best. Lighter items and smaller collections fit snuggly inside a wide, open basket that can double as a fruit bowl later on.

Handcrafted wicker baskets with latches and buckles are gorgeous, functional, and guarantee your goods travel safely. 

Many people save and use their Christmas hamper long after the holiday season ends, making it a gift that keeps on giving.


Get Creative When Designing Christmas Hampers As Gifts

Not only are Christmas hampers a traditional gift, but they're plentiful and fun to create. There's something nostalgic about these baskets filled with delicious treats. 

Gifting food and goods to loved ones dates back thousands of years. It's a symbol of goodwill and togetherness – which is exactly what the holiday season is about.

With so many varieties of Christmas hampers available, the hardest decision will be choosing which delicious ingredients to include. You'll love mixing and matching meats and cheeses, wines and chocolates, and preserves and biscuits for that special person in your life.

Need help designing the perfect basket? Contact us today and let us guide you.

Already know which items you'd like to include? Get started crafting your own hamper as the holiday season grows near!

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