Are Christmas hampers worth it?

A bulging hamper is a key part of the festive season for many of us – but how much of a premium are you really paying for the basket and the bow on top?

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Shops are currently jam-packed with Christmas hamper offers, ranging from more humble cardboard box offerings costing from around £15-£30, right up to a budget-busting luxury baskets costing as much as £1,000. All you have to do is pick the one you want and arrange delivery, which can even be done with a few clicks of your mouse if you don’t want to lug the beast back home yourself.

However, if you’re prepared to put in a bit of extra leg work and assemble your own hamper, it could cost you much less than ordering one which is ready prepared. We investigate just how cost-effective hampers really are….

The real cost of your Christmas hamper

Anyone looking for a festive hamper is spoilt for choice this Christmas. There’s something to suit everyone, from Fortnum and Mason’s chocolate and cracker-filled Children’s Christmas Hamper, which will set you back £45, to Marks & Spencer’s Luxurious Christmas Hamper, which costs £500 and contains an assortment of M&S’s finest spirits, wine, chocolates, cake and groceries, all contained in two chunky wicker storage chests with faux leather lids.

Comparing the cost of a hamper to how much you would pay to buy items individually isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Lots of supermarkets, for example, include items in their hampers that you can’t buy online, or that might not be available to purchase in store either.

However, with a bit of hunting round, it is possible to find the items in most hampers if you want to replicate one that’s on sale. Take the Waitrose Christmas Cracker Hamper, for example, which costs £100. Below is a list of the items it contains, and, in brackets, how much we found each of these items for online, either at Waitrose.com, or, if we couldn’t find them there, at other stores.

- Italia Collezione Prosecco Brut 750ml (Waitrose.com £11.99)
- The Whale Caller Sauvignon Blanc/Colombard 75cl (Waitrose.com £5.49)
- The Whale Caller Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 75cl (Waitrose.com £5.49)
- Atkins & Potts Milk Chocolate Dipper 220g (Atkins and Potts £2.95)
- Buiteman Parmigiano Reggiano Biscuits 75g (Amazon.co.uk £11.51)
- Linden Lady Handmade Luxury Chocolates x 15 (Waitrose.com £6.99)
- Linden Lady Handmade Toasted Coconut Marshmallows 125g (Yourhamper.com £3.49)
- Maxwell & Franks Christmas Pudding with Cider 454g (Yourhamper.com £3.74)
- Olives Et Al Chipotle Smoky Chilli Nuts 150g (Olives Et Al £4.00)
- The Original Cake Company Round Top Iced Fruit Cake (Original Cake Company Iced luxury Christmas slab £4.65).
- 6 Waitrose All Butter Mince Pies (Waitrose.com £2.50)

Waitrose Christmas Cracker Hamper
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that buying these same items individually and putting them in your own hamper costs well below the hampers £100 price tag. The items alone add up to £59.09, although of course there will be additional charges to pay for delivery of certain items if ordering them online.
You can pick up a wicker hamper measuring 13cm by 30cm with a depth of 23cm for £11.99 from Amazon plus £4.99 delivery, which, combined with the cost of the items above, means the total price would be £76.04 – nearly £24 less than the Waitrose hamper. However, at the time of writing Waitrose was offering 15% off all its hampers if you enter the code Hampers15 at the online checkout, which means you’d get the hamper for £85, and it offers free standard delivery in time for Christmas.

Cost vs convenience – the eternal dilemma!

Benefits of hampers

Although you’re likely to be able to put together your own hamper for less than the cost of buying one in the shops, let’s not forget that this will involve a considerable amount of time and effort.

There are also delivery costs to factor in if you’re planning on giving one as a present. Most stores selling hampers don’t charge the earth to send them, or even offer to deliver for free – for example, Marks & Spencer will deliver them for free if you’re spending £250 or more, while there is no charge for sending a hamper through ihampers.co.uk. But if you do it yourself you’re likely to face hefty postage costs.

Several companies now enable you to put together your own hamper online, therefore ensuring you can keep costs to a minimum.

Pamela Harper, who runs British Fine Foods with her husband Andrew, said: “Shoppers now want to have the freedom to choose what they want in a hamper, and one of the most popular areas of our website is 'Create Your Own Hamper’, which enables the customer to control exactly what they want to spend, and they can choose the products individually from across the site ensuring that they are paying the same price as if it was not in a hamper. A great many of our customers don't actually bother with a hamper as they would rather spend their budget on the food rather than the packaging."

John Lewis also has a ‘build your own hamper’ section where you can buy a wicker basket which comes with cellophane, ribbon and a label for £15. and then pick from a range of food and drink items to put into your hamper.

So are hampers worth it?

If it’s the convenience factor that’s most important to you, then a hamper you can buy ‘off the peg’ so to speak, is likely to be a good choice for you, even if it does mean you’re probably spending a bit over the odds for the contents.

However, if you have time to construct your own, then the chances are you’ll be able to save a bit of extra cash this Christmas, and still enjoy the same festive treats.

You can check out loads of hampers to suit all tastes and budgets over at our shopping channel.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct

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