Christmas Gifts: Say it with hampers this Christmas

Sarah Jewell samples a variety of festive favourites sure to tickle your tastebuds
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The Independent Culture
Christmas is the time for feasting on fine foods, and a hamper bursting with festive favourites makes a mouth-watering gift. Prices for hampers vary enormously from as little as pounds 10.95 for three mini Christmas puddings with brandy butter in a box from Harvey Nichols, to pounds 2,000 for the Sovereign hamper from Fortnum & Mason.

For around pounds 100 here are five delicious hampers to choose from, depending on whether your tastebuds thrill towards Conran's Italian pannetone and balsamic vinegar, organic Staffordshire cheese or traditionally smoked salmon from a Scottish loch. The festive foods are all packed in handmade, leather-buckled wicker baskets apart from the Conran goodies, which are neatly arranged in a stylish blue and silver box.

Hampers Hampers specialise in organic gift hampers and they are offering the Ho Ho Xmas basket for pounds 70 plus pounds 6.50 for delivery. Everything is organic from the wholemeal mince pies to the oaten biscuits that are made by the Prince of Wales's own food company, Duchy Originals. The Christmas pudding is baked at the Village Bakery in Melmerby in a traditional wood-fired brick oven and even the wheatchip packaging is completely biodegradable. The rich brandy butter, which is made from raw cane sugar, is an unusual dark brown.

Full contents: Half bottle of Carte Rouge Fleury Champagne, Christmas pudding 450g, brandy butter100ml, six mince pies, oaten biscuits 250g, cheddar wedge 200g, garlic cheese wedge 200g, coarse grain mustard 200g, shortbread 250g, six Christmas chocolates, two praline mini bells, cinnamon almonds 100g, chocolate covered figs 100g.

Last order date 21 December. Call 0181 800 8008.

For pounds 95 plus pounds 6 for delivery, Harrods are offering the St George hamper, a selection of Harrods-own traditional favourites. The deep wicker basket, which would be good for a fishing trip, is stuffed with goodies in the familiar green and cream packaging and has a reassuring old-fashioned feel about it.

Full contents: non-vintage claret 75cl, non-vintage champagne 75cl, duck pate with green peppercorns 200g, cider vinegar mustard with apple 170g, Belgian chocolate butter biscuits 200g, caramelised cashew nuts 200g, traditional Christmas pudding 454g, brandy butter 200g, sweatmeal digestive biscuits 250g, Swiss chocolate truffle selection 110g, traditional christmas cake 400g.

Last order date 11 December. Call 0800 376 1234.

Terence Conran's foodstore, Bluebird, is selling luxury hampers for pounds 100 plus pounds 6.50 for delivery in the UK. This is a really classy, elegant selection of Yuletide treats. Everything is stylishly tasteful from the pretty pink panettone box to the royal blue espresso cups and saucers. The champagne and rich dark chocolate are wrapped in silver, and the delicious oil and vinegar has been decanted into slim, long-funnelled bottles.

Full contents: champagne 75cl, red wine 75cl, white wine 75cl, Conran cafetiere coffee 227g, evening tea caddy 125g, balsamic vinegar 250ml, extra virgin olive oil 500ml, French wholegrain mustard 180g, dark chocolate bar 85g, cranberry and orange sauce 350g, brandy butter 225g, olives 435g, christmas chutney 300g, honey 454g, Christmas pudding 465g, pannetone 500g, four espresso cups and saucers.

Last order date for UK mailing is 18 December. Call 0171 559 1000.

Far from the glitz and glitter of London, the Original Orkney Hamper company have packed a deluxe hamper of Orkney treats for pounds 100 plus pounds 13.50 for delivery. The strong wicker basket is full of delights from the Northern Isles such as the single malt Orkney Islands whisky, the sweet cured Orkney herrings and a truly magnificent slab of local smoked salmon. There are also three bottles of rich, dark Orkney beer from the local brewery and a strong smokey Island cheddar.

Full contents: Claymore smoked cheese 454g, Claymore white cheese 454g, herring pate 113g, sweet cured herring 500g, smoked salmon whole side presentation pack, smoked mussels 200g, cocktail oatcakes 200g, crab pate 113g, Robertsons orkney fudge variety 400g, Orkney Brewery Raven ale bottles 500ml, Orkney Brewery Dragonhead bottles 500ml, Orkney Brewery Dark Island bottles 500ml, Westray shortbread 250g, Highland Park malt whisky 70cl, cheese oatcakes 100g, oatcakes 200g.

Last order date 16 December. Call 01856 850551.

Finally, from the west coast of Scotland, Inverawe Smokehouses have produced an impressive array of smoked food for their Loch Etive hamper. Priced at pounds 115, this is a succulent selection of goodies for the Christmas feast. There is a fat packet of smoked trout, a packet of gravadlax sprinkled with dill and a large side of smoked salmon. All the fish is cured for two days in traditional brick kilns with smoke from oak log fires. There is also a large, creamy stilton and a large, fruity, traditional bun.

Full contents: Bottle of Sauvignon Blanc 750ml, Phillipe d'Albecourt champagne 750ml, sliced side Inverawe smoked salmon 680g, sliced pack smoked Loch Etive trout 454g, sliced pack gravadlax 227g, jar Inverawe dill sauce 198g, Highland game pate 226g, smoked Argyll ham112g, jar Rowanberry jelly 227g, McKenzies oatcakes 200g, stilton 1kg, Edinburgh shortbread 190g, jar whisky marmalade 227g, plum pudding 454g, original Selkirk Bannock 450g. Last order date 15 December. Call 01866 822 446.