I'm a Food Editor and make DIY Christmas hampers for family every year - here are my top tips and go-to food products for making the best gifts

How to make your very own Christmas hamper - including where to buy the wicker hamper itself, what to put in it, and how to budget...

A selection of homemade DIY hampers including small, medium and large ideas
(Image credit: Future)

Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift idea? How about a DIY Christmas hamper? A quick trip to the supermarket, and you could have a rather indulgent-looking present for your loved ones this December.

If you can’t quite decide on the best Christmas food hamper to buy this year, why not make one? It’s a great way to ensure you get everything that the lucky recipient likes in one go - plus sometimes DIY hampers can be much cheaper than readymade ones.

For the grandparents who never want anything for Christmas and refuse to give you ideas every time you ask, for the family that has all the top Christmas toys going that you’re lost for inspiration, for the friend who needs to be indulged this Christmas because she’s had a nightmare year - I give you, the DIY Christmas hamper.

One of the best things about making your own Christmas hamper is that you can personalise it - from the lucky recipient's favourite drink to a chocolate bar to branded coffee. Now being Food Editor on Goodto for well over 10 years now, I lean more towards gifting hampers filled with Christmas foods so I’m going to share my top tips when it comes to making a food hamper for Christmas - but of course, don’t be afraid to throw in some non-foodie items too like candles, face masks, a mug, a book, tea towel, novelty toy, to name but a few.

DIY Christmas hamper ideas

Before you start crafting your DIY Christmas hamper, you will need to make a few important decisions. Firstly, how big do you want your Christmas hamper to be - or how small? Secondly, you’ll need to figure out whether you want a standard hamper, where the lid closes and fastens with products inside, or a gift basket, where the products are displayed in a basket, often finished with cellophane wrapping so you can see all. 

I tend to opt for wicker hampers that fasten - I find them more reusable for storing stuff or tidying clutter once gifted. The kids have a couple of hampers in each of their rooms for storing toys and nicknacks and they look smart (when used of course!)

Here are a few more things to consider before you get started.

A small hamper filled with Lindt Lindor chocolate truffles, tea, coffee and two mugs

(Image credit: Future)

Where to buy your wicker hamper

Other places I’ve bought wicker hampers over the years include TK Maxx - HomeSense, Lakeland, and even garden centres sometimes sell them. You can also buy second-hand hampers on eBay or you could even re-gift wicker hampers you’ve given yourself if you don’t need them anymore.

Just keep in mind that if you do re-gift a branded wicker hamper, the recipient might expect something from that retailer to be included - for example if you re-gift a Fortnum & Mason branded hamper and load it with pick ‘n’ mix sweets it might bring some disappointment, especially if they were hoping for the contents to match its luxury label...

What to include in your hamper

Now, this decision boils down to who you’re buying and gifting the hamper to. It’s no good loading your DIY Christmas hamper with festive meats and pork gelatin-loaded sweets for your vegetarian friend. So, have a good old think before you start shopping and ask yourself the following questions about your lucky recipient:

What do they like to eat? Sweet, savoury, no preference they love everything, vegetarian, obsessed with crisps, hate festive-themed goodies…

What do they like to drink? Soft drinks, bottle of bubbly, hot drinks - tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or if they don’t drink anything only Evian bottled water - include it in the hamper then…

If you’re finding it hard to decide what to include in your hamper then settle on a theme. For example, if your friend is heavily into Christmas then make the hamper as festive as possible with mince pies, Christmas puddings, and everything shaped like a Christmas tree. Or if your Mum loves healthy eating and well-being products, make your hamper a health-inspired feel-good collection of organic produce, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate - all that jazz. 

Don’t be afraid to mix food products with non-food products too - like a nice box of biscuits and a packet of freshly ground coffee would pair nicely with a mug. Or a bottle of bubbly and a box of Ferrero Rochers would pair perfectly with a scented candle.

DIY hampers checklist - Canva

(Image credit: Future)

How to personalise your hamper

A great way to personalise the hamper you’re gifting is with, what I like to call, ‘food memories’. Foods that either remind you of someone, or something, a private joke you share with your best friend, your partner, your parent - a food that brings a smile to your face and you 100% associate it with that person. 

That food item needs to be in your hamper. It will make the person you’re gifting your hamper to, feel so special and remembered and loved. It will make the whole hamper feel much more personalised and specific to that person. Even if it's something they hate - and you know that they hate it just to wind them up or make it a joke item in their collection. Personalise the hamper to make that person, or people receiving the hamper feel super special. 

I’ll give you an example if you’re struggling. When I was younger, every time I visited my Nan and Grandad’s house, my Nan would have stockpiled orange-flavoured Club bars and multipacks of KitKats - so alongside my Nan’s favourite green tea bags, a mini Christmas pudding, a jar of strawberry jam, some M&S biscuits and a scented candle, I would include a couple of Club bars or extra large KitKat - just to make her smile and bring back that old memory we share.

It can be something as simple as a bar of chocolate. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, and it doesn’t even have to make sense to the contents of your hamper. Adding that personal touch can make a difference.

Collage of DIY hampers including stacked hampers small, medium and large

(Image credit: Future)

Budget, hamper size and how many products

Keep in mind your budget. The boring bit yes, but if you’ve got a set budget for Christmas or you’re making multiple hampers you don’t want to overdo it when it comes to spending and regret it later. 

Your overall budget will determine how big or small your hamper is going to be. You don’t want to spend a fortune on a large wicker hamper to only be able to fill it with a handful of products. So the size and the amount of products included coincide with each other. 

Hampers can cost anywhere from £5 to £50 depending on the brand, quality, and size. If you’re on a low budget, you’ll want to get the hamper as cheap as possible without it being flimsy or low quality to make sure you have a good amount of budget left for the products.

My budget rule (remember, each to their own) is to spend more on the contents and less on the wicker hamper itself. So if my budget for £100 for easy maths, I would spend £80 on contents and £20 on the hamper. I would also work out how many products using the following guidelines:

  • Small hampers - 4-5 items
  • Medium hampers - 7-8 items
  • Large hampers - 10 items or more

Of course, if you have a £100 budget for a small hamper, you might be able to buy it for £10 instead saving you money or allowing you to put more money into the contents budget. If you buy a large hamper, you may spend £40 on the hamper and have £60 left to spend.

A collage of food hamper products that we recommend

(Image credit: Cartwright & Butler/Peter's Yard/Bettys/Taylors/M&S/Aldi/Fortnum & Mason/Carluccio's/Lindt/Hotel Chocolat/Belazu)

My favourite go-to food hamper products

It’s entirely up to you when it comes to what to put in your hamper, however, if you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of my favourite products - all tried, tested, enjoyed, and a little bit fancy:

Keep in mind that you could always fill your hamper with homemade food gifts too. Or you could opt for a hamper filled with just one of these ‘themes’. For example, someone who loves chocolate would be very grateful to receive a chocolate-themed hamper piled high with sweet treats like chocolate biscuits, bars, hot chocolate powder, and more!

How to deliver your hamper

The best way to ensure safe delivery of your DIY hamper is to deliver it directly to the person yourself. However, if you need to send it via post, you have a few options including paying for a courier to ensure safe delivery - this service is a ‘signed for’ recommended option for more fragile, expensive hampers. You can also send it as a large parcel packaged in a box or wrapped in parcel paper with plenty of parcel tape. Find out more about your delivery options via Royal Mail.

Do remember if you’re sending your hamper with fragile items e.g. bottles of wine, glass ornaments, etc. you will need to bubble wrap them individually in the hamper, ensure everything is snug and tight with hamper filler, wrap the hamper with bubble wrap if you want to make extra cautious and send in a sturdy box with strong parcel tape.

A large hamper filled with Prosecco, biscuits, coffee, candle, bath bombes, Ferrero Rochers, and two personalised mugs

(Image credit: Future)

DIY hamper FAQ's

What is hamper filler and where can I buy it?

Hampers tend to be filled with shredded water, cardboard, tissue, or wood wool. Depending on the size of your hamper, you will need to buy a couple of bags to fill the bottom of your hamper before displaying your chosen products. 

If you want to fill your hamper out more without spending too much money on fillers, you could cheat and pad the bottom of the hamper with scrunched-up newspaper or reuse packaging from previous deliveries, etc. You can also buy hamper liners if you want to make your hamper even more professional and smart.

Hamper fillers can be bought in most card and gifting shops like Card Factory, or Clintons, however Amazon and Etsy have a great range of hamper fillers available for delivery.

Is it cheaper to make your own hamper?

It's often cheaper to make your own hamper from scratch, as opposed to buying a readymade hamper however it does depend on the hamper size and how many products you intend to include in it. You could make a £100 hamper with just five products but could buy a readymade one cheaper, with more products so do consider your budget, and shop around before making your final decision as to whether to make the hamper yourself or buy a readymade one.

A hamper filled with chocolate treats including hot chocolate, hot chocolate stirrer, box of chocolates, Ferrero Rochers and more

(Image credit: Future)

How do you make your hamper look impressive?

Choosing a colour scheme is a great way to make your hamper look impressive and smart. For example, if it's a festive hamper you’re making, choose red shredded paper for the hamper filler and present it with a large red bow or ribbon. You could also choose themed products to accompany the hamper e.g. mince pies, mini Christmas pudding, and so on.

If you want to gift your hamper open with the products on display, make sure you buy the large products at the back and the smaller items at the front. You can wrap the whole thing in large cellophane wrapping paper and tie it with a box at the top of the hamper.

How do you arrange a hamper basket?

It’s best to place the large, heavier items at the back of the hamper and put the shorter, smaller items at the front - if presenting without the hamper lid on. If you’re going to fasten your hamper for delivery, we’d recommend putting the heavier items at the bottom of the hamper layered with filler and bubble wrap and packaging, especially for the more fragile items like glass bottles, etc.

Profile picture of Goodto.com Senior Content Editor Jessica Dady
Jessica Dady

Jessica Dady is the Food Editor at Goodto and has over 11 years of experience as a digital editor, specialising in all things food, recipes, and SEO. From the must-buy seasonal food hampers and advent calendars for Christmas to the family-friendly air fryers that’ll make dinner time a breeze, Jessica loves trying and testing various food products to find the best of the best for the busy parents among us.

We've got plenty more gift inspiration here on Goodto including cosy gifts for the winter, as well as best gifts for new mums, and best teacher gifts too.

And for those of you planning for Christmas this year, don't forget to have a look at our delicious Christmas buffet ideas which includes an array of easy festive-themed buffet foods.

Jessica Dady
Food Editor

Jessica Dady is Food Editor at GoodtoKnow and has over 11 years of experience as a digital editor, specialising in all things food, recipes, and SEO. From the must-buy seasonal food hampers and advent calendars for Christmas to the family-friendly air fryers that’ll make dinner time a breeze, Jessica loves trying and testing various food products to find the best of the best for the busy parents among us. Over the years of working with GoodtoKnow, Jessica has had the privilege of working alongside Future’s Test Kitchen to create exclusive videos - as well as writing, testing, and shooting her own recipes. When she’s not embracing the great outdoors with her family at the weekends, Jessica enjoys baking up a storm in the kitchen with her favourite bakes being chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and a tray of gooey chocolate brownies