If you’re heading to some of the summer’s most sophisticated events, from Ascot to Henley, you’ll need a wicker basket. And not just to fit in with the look – cool bags are not allowed in. Even if you’re not going to one of them, a traditional wicker woven basket is an investment item that you’ll get use out of year after year.
Standard wicker baskets are made from willow and include plates, glasses suitable for wine, cutlery and napkins, while added extras range from a wooden cheese board and knife to salt and pepper shakers, rugs and insulated food bags. The more expensive brands tend to use ceramic plates and have real glass, linen napkins and stainless steel cutlery – but as the saying goes – you get what you pay for.
We have compared a selection of baskets based on their size, quality and inclusion of contents, ease to carry and general appearance to bring you are picnic time prize winners. Bon appetit.
1. Next 4 Person Wicker Picnic Basket: £45, Next
This hard-wearing woven basket is a traditional hamper style with its upwards-folding sides, and large handle to carry over your arm. It’s been given a modern twist with the orange Aztec-patterned fabric on the top and insulation inside to prevent your picnic getting warm before lunch time. And with 12 litres of spaces, there’s enough room for food for four. Plates and glasses are plastic, while cutlery is a plastic and stainless steel combo. You also get cotton napkins and there’s a blanket in the same range that goes with it. Great value.
2. M&S Dovecote Floral 2 Person Heart Hamper: £45, Marks and Spencer
This heart-shaped basket is surprisingly spacious and is well-suited to a romantic picnic for two. We like the vintage-style look of the wicker and the pretty cream floral pattern inside. Most of the crockery – including the ceramic plates – straps into the lid, bar the glasses, which go in the bottom. There’s still space for a bottle to lie down and a small picnic too. You can also get the matching picnic blanket to complete the look.
3. Greenfield Somerley Willow Picnic Hamper for Four People with Matching Blanket: £113.99, Wayfair
With a blue and white-striped blanket that straps to the outside of the willow basket, this one is a classic-looking design with a nautical hint. As one of the larger baskets, there’s room for a four-person picnic and other food can be kept chilled in the insulated bag or in the plastic food container. The glasses are wisely kept safe in a separate compartment complete with a padded divider and all the china plates and stainless steel cutlery straps into the lid and sides.
4. Fortnum & Mason The Celebration Picnic Basket: £325, Fortnum and Mason
Fortnum’s picnic baskets are considered status symbols for some, but they are also well-thought-out. With the statement branding on the front, inside this one, you get four glass champagne flutes, which are protected in smaller wicker holders, while gold-rimmed green and white china plates and stainless steel cutlery are held in the lids and side. Extras include a bottle holder and small insulated bag in the brand’s signature green, a bottle stop and opener, white linen napkins, salt and pepper grinders, cheeseboard and knife and a beige waterproof drawstring bag to pop your dirty crockery in when you’ve finished feasting. And there’s still room for a small picnic. Other four-person baskets in the range go up to £575, so this one’s our pick – and makes a special, generous gift.
5. John Lewis Croft Collection Filled Hamper 4 Person: £90, John Lewis
This large wicker hamper is one of the biggest on the list and has plenty of space inside for a picnic for four and a bottle or two. All of the essentials including plates, plastic glasses, bottle opener, chopping board and napkins are neatly fixed to the sides and lids of the basket with leather popper straps, making plenty of room. We especially like that the plates are ceramic, which overall adds to the quality feel.
6. Joules Floral Printed Picnic Hamper: £89.95, Joules
Lined with a cotton pink and grey floral pattern, this one can hold enough supplies for four as everything – bar the glasses – straps into the lid, meaning bottles can lie down inside too. It can be carried by a long adjustable shoulder strap – or by the side handles if there are two of you. Although the four-person set includes plastic plates, cutlery and glasses, the fact it has napkins, salt and pepper shakers, a bottle opener, a cheese knife and board and an insulated zipped bag, makes it a well-equipped affordable option.
7. Dunelm Four Person White Picnic Hamper: £50, Dunelm
With its blue and white-striped interior, this white wicker basket has a sophisticated coastal beach feel, and at under £50 it’s great value. We particularly like the suitcase style, which has a contrasting blue handle. Inside are separate zipable compartments - one for chilled food and another to store the plastic glasses, while plastic plates and plastic and stainless steel cutlery sit in the lid. Space for food inside is a little limited, making it better for a couple rather than four.
8. Eaton Hampers and Basketware Barrel Shaped Picnic Hamper: £85, Not on the High Street
This family-run business moves away from a traditional boxy basket with this washed willow, barrel-shaped hamper, which is perfect for holding two bottles inside and is made for two to enjoy alfresco dining. The china plates are secured at either end, while the stainless steel cutlery and real glass wine glasses fit into each side, making room for your picnic food on top. There’s also a bottle opener included.
9. Sunnylife Montauk Picnic Basket: £115.50, Made in Design
Australian brand Sunnylife has combined style with practicality. The patterned canvas top covers the lid, which turns into a makeshift table. The lid can either be folded out, or stuck in the ground via a single stake and has cut-out grooves for wine glasses in the side, so you’ll never spill any wine again. There’s a wine bottle holder on the outside and you can sling the whole thing over your shoulder to transport it. The contents of plates, real glasses, blue-patterned napkins and bottle opener are held by little leather straps inside, which leaves enough room for food for four too.
10. Dibor Four Person Summer Dining Victoria Boat Hamper: £164, Not On The High Street
Dibor specialises in French-style products and we love this large oval shaped basket, which has a covered central compartment, holding four china plates, real glasses, napkins and stainless steel cutlery, which all neatly slots into the outwards-opening peaked lids. There is still room inside for a picnic which might be better suited for two people. But if you need more space, keep food, bottles or a blanket in the uncovered exterior compartments at either end.
The Verdict: Picnic baskets
The Next wooden basket is attractive and practical too, as the insulated interior keeps food cool for up to five hours and is great value, while Dibor’s boat-shaped hamper gives a modern twist to the traditional hamper and has plenty of exterior space to carry bottles and extra bits on either side.
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