How to make the ultimate Christmas hamper

Think about balance

When deciding what to include in your hamper, think about creating a balanced collection of treats: something sweet, something savoury and a drink. It’s also good to ensure some items included have a slightly longer shelf life, so the lucky recipient doesn’t have to eat everything straightaway. Alternatively, if you know the person you’re making it for has a sweet tooth or particularly loves cheese, why not theme your hamper entirely around their favourites?

Get ahead this Christmas

Don’t feel you have to leave everything to the last minute: Christmas hamper staples, such as jam or chutney, can be made ahead to spread out the work. This spiced pear chutney recipe is perfect for the festive season, or try this pretty red plum chutney recipe. For something a little sweeter, check out our collection of jam recipes, including damson and blackberry. You can make chutneys in a big batch for lots of Christmas presents in one.

A green table topped with two jars of pear chutney

What to buy vs what to make

Don’t stress yourself out trying to make everything from scratch. We’re in favour of an effortless shortcut here at olive, and a few special shop-bought ingredients can give a homemade hamper an extra touch of luxury. If you’re making one of the chutneys above, buy some special crackers to go with them. Cartwright & Butler chilli and garlic seeded crackers add a touch of heat. If they’ll be opening the hamper straightaway, you could even tuck in some cheese – Colston Bassett stilton is a Christmas cheeseboard staple.

Give it a festive touch

Get in the festive spirit with a few Christmassy additions to your hamper. Bake a batch of classic mince pies or some gingerbread biscuits for decorating. If giving the hamper to a family with children, leave the biscuits undecorated and tuck in some icing for a fun Christmas holiday activity. You could even tuck a Christmas decoration into the hamper for them to enjoy on their tree every year – check out our picks of the best Christmas baubles for foodies, including pizza, sprout and champagne bottle baubles.

Mince pies on a plate and serving board

For the cocktail lover

Homemade infused alcohols are a special touch for a cocktail lover, and perfect for the festive party season. Try this quick and easy blackberry whisky recipe using an affordable blended scotch (we’ve also got a blackberry gin recipe, if gin is more your thing), or make this Christmas gin infused with aromatic bay and clementine.

A glass bottle filled with blackberry whisky next to a full glass

No-bake additions

You don’t need to turn the oven on for everything – this easy blonde chocolate bark recipe only requires melting chocolate, then freely decorating before leaving it to set. The minimal hands-on time is ideal if you’re short on time. Chocolate truffles are another no-bake option: try our classic chocolate truffles recipe, or go for a boozy twist with these rum truffles. Put in clear gift bags and tie with colourful ribbon before adding to your hamper – our homemade Christmas crafts guide has more wrapping tips.

A tray of chopped white chocolate bark sprinkled with nuts and dried fruit

Add a bottle of something special

If your loved one has a favourite tipple, why not add a bottle of something special? Our drinks experts have tried and tested top bottles, no matter what you’re looking for. Browse the best Christmas gins to buy for something seasonal, add a bottle of English sparkling wine for festive fizz, or choose between top budget and blowout whiskies.

Christmas gins

Try something spicy

There are a lot of rich foods at Christmas, so it’s a good idea to add something to your hamper that can be a break from these. Our spicy chilli-infused olive oil only needs 20 minutes of hands-on time, but will last for a couple of months.

Chilli-Infused Olive Oil Recipe

Homemade sweets

If you fancy an afternoon in the kitchen making a bit more of a project, go retro with homemade versions of favourite childhood sweets. We’ve given classic sweets a distinctly grown-up twist: these sweet miso caramels are irresistibly sweet and salty (and easy to pack for a hamper, as they won’t get broken), or try this lollipops recipe complete with gin and tonic sherbet for dipping.

Gin and Tonic Dib Dabs

Include everyone

A quirky hamper addition for someone devoted to their pet, our recipe for homemade dog biscuits is made with just five ingredients and will ensure everyone is included in the festive celebrations.

Homemade Dog Biscuits Recipe

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