Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Homemade Hampers, with Love

I am a complete foodie and love to try new and interesting dishes and ingredients. Going in to Marks and Spencers, John Lewis or Selfridges Foodhall for me is like giving a kid free reign in Hamley's. I particularly love Hampers and I literally stare open-mouthed at the Fortnum and Mason selection when it comes round to Christmas time. So, last year when I organised for our company to take part in Macmillan Cancer Support's World's Biggest Coffee Morning I decided to inflict part of my foodie love on the raffle prizes and make some homemade hampers. It turned in to a rather big deal, I scoured second hand shops (and relatives cupboards!) for baskets, wicker trays and boxes and then I wrote to a bunch of food companies asking for donations. The response was overwhelming and I ended up making several hampers filled with all sorts of goodies from the kind companies who to donated.

It's now a matter of months until Christmas and I plan to begin stashing goodies away a bit at a time to make up these hampers for my nearest and dearest as it's so much fun, massively cheaper than going to a department store and purchasing one, and generates a feeling of self-accomplishment like no other - particularly when you hand it over to the impressed recipient! If you think you'd like to try and make your own then here's how I did it:

Fill a sturdy basket first with polystyrene chips (I save mine from parcels) and then with shredded tissue paper (I buy mine in sheets and then shred it using a paper shredder - much cheaper!), graduated so that there's a sloping level from front to back
Arrange co-ordinated or themed foodstuffs, tall and big items at the back, smaller things at the front
(the key here is to make sure EVERYTHING is at least partly visable)
Then take a roll of cellophane and wrap up over to a peak, securing with a tight elastic band
Adorn with ribbons, curling ribbon, personalisations, charms or embellishments (and of course a tag if it's to be a gift)

Beware of expensive online companies who sell hamper making supplies such as ribbons, cellophane, baskets and filling - you can find everything you need in your local Haberdashery, second hand shops and paper recycling pile (shred, shred and shred some more to fill up your hamper - or use recycled polystyrene chips from parcels like me!). Oh, and Ryman's stationers sell a roll of cellophane for about £7 which has enough to do about 30 hampers.

Here's how mine worked out for the event, pretty cool huh?

Need some inspiration? We had a Mexican themed basket filled with Desperados (Tequila and lime flavoured light beer), jars of chillis, guacamole, soured cream, wraps, spice mixes and firey hot sauces. A Time for Tea themed one filled with a teapot cosie, embroidered tea towel, various teas and coffees, mugs, posh biscuits and preserves. A Pamper Hamper stocked up with indulgent chocolates, wine, candles, face masques and bath salts. A Food-a-Holic basket with unusual dried fruits and nuts, cooking ingredients, chocolate coated chilli, vodka lollypops, solid cacoa, rose prosecco and champagne truffles. In the gold weave basket at the top right hand corner we had a Pink themed gift with all manner of pink toilettries crammed in to it. At the front, in the purple box, a Girl's Night in including a chick-flick, mini bottle of champagne, manicure and pedicure goodies and of course - lots and lots of chocolate!

If you do decide to make a hamper up, post a link to your picture and show me how you got on...

Nanna Kate X

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