Putting together your own bundle of festive delights allows you to tailor the contents to the recipient and cut out the "filler" that often comes in shop-bought hampers. Here are some ideas to help you create the perfect Christmas gift.
See also: Five best gifts for foodies
See also: Five great hampers for Christmas
First things first, you're going to need a container of some sort – a wicker basket being the traditional choice. You could get one with a hinged lid and clasp, or opt for an open basket to show off the goodies. There are plenty of options on sites like eBay, Amazon or Hobbycraft – and the latter retailer also has physical stores if you want to see the baskets first.
Some come with fabric lining and open baskets are even offered with cellophane wrapping and bows – so all you have to do is fill them up. This seagrass hamper shown costs £7.99 from Amazon.
Possibly the biggest ticket item you'll be adding, you might want to include a favourite single-malt whisky, a vintage rum or a fine bottle of cognac. The Laphroaig Quarter Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 70 cl, is reduced to £33 on Amazon.
There has been an explosion in specialist gin in the UK in recent years, so perhaps include a bottle of something unusual – along with a tin or two of fancy tonic – if the recipient is that way inclined.
You may already know which countries or wine styles they prefer, in which case it would be a good idea to head to a specialist vintner to ask for advice on selecting a suitable bottle. If you want a safe bet, southern French red wines such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas or Vacqueyras have the benefit of being full of sunny fruit flavours as well as coming in a classy looking embossed bottle.
Champagne is another safe option, but if you're on a budget it's better to get a nice Prosecco than a cheap bottle of champers.
If you're buying for a non-drinker, how about some artisan coffee beans or posh tea? Perhaps a tin of top-quality hot chocolate? You could throw in a suitable mug as well. Check out Notonthehighstreet.com for artist-created offerings to suit all tastes.
Have you ever seen a hamper without at least one jar of something or other? This is because the contents need to be non-perishable while also looking nice, so jams, marmalades, chutneys, curds and sauces are all on the menu. Use your knowledge of the recipient to decide whether to go sweet or savoury (or both) – and perhaps consider a jar of fresh pesto sauce and some posh pasta if you know they're a fan of Italian food.
Cakes, pud and sweets
This is where you can really get festive, with a Christmas pudding, some posh mince pies or even that most-traditional of British festive gifts – the Terry's Chocolate Orange. The three-pack of chutneys shown cost £10 from John Lewis. Fancy chocolates are another possibility and a number of brands offer a tasting selection, so you don't have to bet everything on one flavour.
Again you're limited to non-perishable items here, but there's still plenty of scope for personalising your hamper. Nuts, wasabi peas, fancy crisps or oatcakes, what you choose depends on the recipient's taste – and on what else you've put in the hamper. These Insane Ghost Pepper Peanuts cost £2.49 and are 'as hot as hell'.
Or would the person you're buying for prefer a selection of beauty products? Perhaps golf, fishing or cycling-related goodies for the keen hobbyist? Craft supplies and goodies for the artist in the family? With a little creativity you can create a gift that's sure to make them smile.