If you're making up a food hamper you won't notice the cost if you add one item a week to your shopping list. Look out for special offers, BOGOF's and sales too to reduce the cost even further.
If you like to make your own presents, as do a lot of my clever blogger friends (ANA Mum Diary, Being Mrs C, Bug Bird Bee, Cat's Yellow Days, The Crazy Kitchen and Me and My Shadow), how about a home made hamper? Start now and make syrups, flavoured oils, damson gin, sweet jams, spicy jams, jellies, chutneys, festive chutneys and preserves. Nearer the time you can add crackers, biscuits, fudge or mince pies to your hamper.
Helen at the Crazy Kitchen has made loads of flavoured alcoholic drinks. You may want to make batches of Malteser Vodka, Toffee Vodka, Cherry Vodka and Cranberry Vodka, and put them all in a hamper. I know a lot of my friends would LOVE this.
All you need to make up a hamper is a cardboard box or basket, some wrapping paper to cover it, and cellophane and ribbon to wrap it. For a Christmassy touch, add bells or baubles to the bow, or even Pinkoddy's salt dough stars. You can also line the box with scrunched or shredded tissue paper or bubble wrap - this stops the contents rattling around. Collect boxes of all shapes and sizes throughout the year. Here's a great tutorial on how to wrap a basket in cellophane.
Another option is to buy a cake board (79p in Asda) and stick your goodies to the board with double sided tape, then wrap with cellophane and ribbon.
PTA's: a cake board and cellophane are a brilliant option for displaying raffle prizes. Put together hampers for men, women, children and babies from items donated for your Christmas or summer fayre. This year we noticed several people had donated Gruffalo items, so we made a Gruffalo hamper.
I make mini hampers for my children's teachers at the end of each school year. I fill a new mug with fancy tea bags, hot chocolate sachets, marshmallows, mini muffins, cookies and sweets, wrap it in tissue paper and cellophane, all finished off with a bright ribbon. These went down very well, one TA still mentions hers every time I bump into her.
You could go to an old fashioned sweet shop and fill a (sterilised) jar with sweets of all colours. If you're making similar gifts for several people you could split giant packs of pick and mix sweets. This way you also get to sample the sweets at the same time...
Make a lolly bouquet by sticking lollies on a polystyrene block, with tissue paper in between. Wrap the block with more tissue paper and cellophane and finish with a large bow.
To counter the Christmas excess, I know I'd appreciate a good old fruit hamper. Go nuts and add nuts and dates too - after all it is Christmas.
Pamper hampers are a great gift. You could easily and cheaply put together soap and talc with some slippers for an older relative, or a shower gel, shower puff, body scrub and body lotion kit for someone younger. Pick the items to suit the person. You can also buy a pashmina for pennies on Ebay, use this instead of tissue paper to add colour to your hamper - or make it part of the wrapping.
You could easily get a relaxation hamper together, including a lavender eye pillow, Rescue Remedy and camomile tea.
Nail varnish, remover, cotton wool and emery boards would make a great hamper for a friend. Include hand lotion and cotton gloves for the full manicure experience.
A lot of girls would love a make up bag full of hair accessories. My boys would be over the moon with a party bag style hamper, full of little bits and bobs (balloons, cars, balls, etc.).
Bakers would adore a pudding bowl full of muffin cases, cookie cutters, wooden spoons and sprinkles.
You could make someone a car cleaning kit, wrapping up a sponge, chamois leather and car shampoo in a brightly coloured bucket. If someone gave me this I would cry, but some people may appreciate it.
Gardeners would love a hamper full of seeds, twine, seed markers and some new gloves, perhaps wrapped on a kneeling pad.
Sports fanatics can be easily catered for. What about a football supporters pack, including a scarf, hand warmers and a travel mug?
Bloggers, I should add that hampers are an excellent way to recycle your goody bag stash. The recipient will not know where you got their gifts from (unless they're marked as a sample - do check) and you can appear super generous.
If you know someone who likes owls you can find a whole section devoted to them at one of my favourite online shops, the Dot Com Gift Shop. This is my entry to their blogger competition. I have not been compensated for this blog post, I'm doing it for the love... and the chance to win an iPad Mini...
Other fabulous hamper ideas:
12 Movie Night Gift Hamper Ideas by Me and My Shadow
Christmas Eve Surprise Box by Imagination Tree
Alternatives to the Traditional Christmas Hamper by Domestic Goddesque
10 Hamper Gift Ideas by Red Ted Art
Themed Hampers and Gift Ideas by Kids Chaos
I could go on all day, the possibilities are endless. Personalised hampers show the recipient that you have put a lot of thought and care into their gift. You never know, they may cry with happiness on Christmas Day.
Edited to link up with the fabulous Thinly Spread Festive Friday