50 years short of a millennium ago, traditional hampers as we know them arrived in the UK. Evidently, the English hamper has a long history, and it wasn’t always included as part of the traditional Christmas presents that we give today. In fact, hampers don’t fit into the history of Christmas gift giving until relatively recent times, especially when compared to their timeline as a whole. Discover the journey of the hamper, from Normandy to our modern day living rooms in December, and witness its evolution into a thing of luxury.
As well as the bloodshed and the toppling of the throne, William the Conqueror brought hampers with him from Normandy, too. Initially introduced as charitable offerings, hampers would be filled with food, drink and clothing to help families in need, with the hamper itself then being used for carrying laundry and groceries once the contents were finished. The durable and lightweight wicker construction that we know today has always been a trademark feature of the hamper – allowing practical transit of goods over long distances.
Fast forward 800 years, and the introduction of the railway meant big changes to the British hamper. While traditional hampers had always contained non-perishables capable of being transported over long periods of time – the arrival of commercial railway meant that the distance of these journeys could become longer while the time it took them to travel became shorter. As such, an array of items that normally had a shorter shelf life began to be included. With this development came the realisation that hampers could be well received as gifts for loved ones.
A century on, and the Victorian era began to adapt traditional hampers into the quality Christmas hampers that we’re used to today. Presented to maids and servants on low incomes as recompense come Christmas time, hampers at Christmas were used to reward hard workers with food and drink to form a feast they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Through doing so, Luxury Christmas hampers were officially born, and added to the history of Christmas presents.
Bringing us back to modern times, and hampers have developed to host an array of delectable items. Given as charity Christmas gifts as well as in the form of luxury Christmas hampers for friends, loved ones and colleagues, the question of what to put in a hamper is one with a long list of answers, from alcohol to snacks, sweets and even skincare. Giving hampers at Christmas has become very popular over the centuries, developing further into a welcomed gift at all times of year while still retaining much of the sentiment felt with traditional hampers. What comes next for the hamper? Only time will tell.
With an array of options now available when it comes to Christmas hampers, it can be hard to decide on what makes a truly good hamper today. Delve further into the history of the hamper and find out exactly what makes a good Christmas hamper today in our History of the Hamper: 1,000 years of sharing infographic.
Discover an array of Luxury Christmas hampers from Regency Hampers today, and surprise a friend or loved one with a selection of their favourite treats.