Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kosher Christmas Hampers

A kosher Christmas hamper? It does sound incongruous, but when everyone in your company is getting their Christmas hampers, you don't really want anyone to feel left out. Now you do have two options:

1) Give Jewish employees a kosher Chanukah gift basket for Chanukah (December 16th this year)
2) Give Jewish employees a kosher Christmas hamper along with everyone else in the company.

Whichever option you choose, here's where you can find kosher Christmas or kosher Chanukah hampers:

Ripe Gifts, UK
Offer a wide range of Christmas hampers and a selection of kosher Chanukah gift baskets. They'll also happily make any of their regular kosher hampers look festive if you want to give a kosher Christmas hamper.

Panzers Hampers
This long-standing family-run deli in St. John's Wood offers an attractive range of Christmas food hampers and a special-order option for kosher Christmas hampers.

Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah, the choice is yours.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

£75 Christmas Hampers Review

If you're looking to make a real impression with your Christmas hamper this year, you don't need to spend hundreds of pounds on a semi-trailer-sized hamper. In fact, you can find some really spectacular Christmas hampers for just £75.

While there are places selling rather heavy-looking Christmas hampers for this price, they are generally stuffed with cheap, low-quality fillers. Since quality goes a long way to impress, the following hampers contain only high-quality items. I've graded them according to what I judge to be their level of 'wow' factor. The higher the score, the more your gift will stand out from the crowd this Christmas.

Harrods Christmas Carol Hamper - £75 (plus £5.95 for UK delivery)
Few things spell luxury as clearly as a Harrods hamper filled with Harrods own brand of Christmas truffles, Christmas pudding, brandy butter, tea and spiced coffee. While I have actually tasted better, there's no denying that this hamper will impress.
Wow Factor: 8/10

Ripe Gifts Christmas Cornucopia -
Take a step 'out of the box' this Christmas with a stunning cornet-shaped luxury Christmas hamper. It's filled to overflowing with quality foods, like my favourite sloe gin truffles, rum & brandy-laced fruit cake, organic Christmas pudding, stuffed dates, caramelised nuts, mulled wine bundles and more. Free UK delivery.
Wow Factor: 9/10

Fortnum & Mason Fortmason Hamper -
£75 (plus £7 UK delivery)
Another very well-known name with some high quality items. It feels a little sparse for the price, but then you are paying a premium for the Fortnum & Mason name. A safe bet but, other than the name, not something that will knock anyone's socks off.
Wow Factor: 7/10

Gravitas Festive Organics - £74.50 (including £5.50 UK delivery)
A pretty little organic Christmas hamper with some high-quality organic ingredients including Christmas pudding, brandy butter, mulled punch and two kinds of Duchy biscuits. A good choice for someone who would really appreciate an all-organic Christmas gift. Otherwise, a few too many jars and no chocolates - a sin at Christmas.
Wow Factor: 7/10

Monday, October 30, 2006

Christmas Hampers for Special Diets

Finding a Christmas hamper for a vegetarian, vegan or someone with a gluten allergy can be a bit of a trial, especially if you want to minimise the number of Christmas hamper companies you're working with. You'd want to do this for two reasons; first to save yourself time and effort (always a good thing) and second, in order to get the best possible price if you are planning to order a large number of hampers (most good Christmas hamper companies will give you a discount for large orders).

So, your best bet is to find a Christmas hamper company that offers both 'regular' Christmas hampers and Christmas hampers for special dietary requirements.

Ripe Gifts is a small family-run company that offers a beautiful range of luxury Christmas hampers and gift baskets. They also cater for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and even kosher diets. Their gift baskets can be ordered securely directly from their website or, if you want baskets tailored to your requirements, you can give them a call and they'll create something especially for you and your budget. I can tell you from experience that they are extremely friendly and will go the extra mile to make sure you're happy.

From their ready-to-order 2006 Christmas hamper collection, I can especially recommend the following:

1) Christmas Cornucopia, £75
A truly stunning Christmas hamper that also happens to be suitable for vegetarians. It contains my all-time-favorite Christmas chocolates, Sloe Gin Christmas truffles.

2) Vegan Christmas Hamper,
A very handsome hamper. Highlights include some very nice dairy-free mints and a truly outstanding cranberry & rosemary preserve.

3) Christmas Cornet, £47
Available as a regular or gluten-free Christmas hamper, this beautiful hamper will certainly stand out from the crowd.

The company also do special baskts for Diwali & Eid. And, if you have any Jewish friends or colleagues, you'll also be happy to know that they also have a kosher gift basket collection, perfect for the upcoming Chanukah holiday.

And, if you mention that you read about them in this blog, they might just send me a box of their sloe gin truffles, so please do!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Christmas Truffles Review

For chocoholics, Christmas is like, well, Christmas. Since most people know I'm a chocolate fan, I'm usually sent enough Christmas chocolates to put off my New Year's resolutions until next Christmas (when I will, of course, have to put them off again until I've polished off all my yummy chocs, which will take until the next Christmas etc.).

But not all Christmas chocolates are created equal. For me, the stars of my Christmas chocolate collection are chocolate truffles. There's just something magical about the way a good truffle just melts in your mouth. And magical is what a good Christmas should be, right?

So, what makes a perfect Christmas truffle? For me, they must have good quality chocolate, some alcohol in there somewhere (it's Christmas, remember!) and that extra special something. Here are my top three Christmas truffles, along with links to where you can order them. If you'll be ordering Christmas hampers for fellow employees, make sure you're around when they get them. You won't want to miss out on tasting these!

1) Sloe Gin Christmas Truffles
To die for! In these wonderful truffles, hand-picked wild sloe berries have been steeped in gin and blended as a truffle with rich dark Belgian chocolate. The best Christmas truffle I've tasted this year.

2) Port & Cranberry Truffles
Absolutely scrummy. Real port and cranberry centre in plain, dark chocolate.

3) Christmas Pudding Truffles
Organic dark chocolate centre with brandy and Christmas spices. Comes in a nicely boxed assortment with other festivly-flavoured truffles.

May your hamper be filled with Christmas truffles!

Welcome to Christmas Hampers

Finding the right Christmas hamper for a friend, relations or business associate is tougher than it looks. There are plenty of online Christmas hamper sites around, but trawling through them is not easy. That's where I come in. I've been sourcing luxury Christmas hampers and corporate Christmas hampers for various companies for longer than I care to remember. Better yet, I've also been on the receiving end of a few myself and have had a good look at the Christmas hampers sent in to us.

So here is my pick of the best Christmas hampers, Christmas hamper companies and Christmas hamper fillers around. If you have a Christmas hamper company to suggest, or want to give feedback on any of the Christmas hampers I review, please add you comment.

Here's wishing you a Christmas full of hampers!