This gift guide is written by Chloe who runs a blog called Made In Brixton. Chloe is a born and bred Londoner and has spent most of her childhood in Brixton, where she still lives (after brief spells in Australia and the mysterious land of North Of The River). She specialised in ceramics during her degree in Applied Arts, and now works in the tea industry. “I basically jumped from the making of the cup to the making of the drink that goes in it,” says Chloe, “With this blog I’m going to try and share some of the things I love (food, art, inspiration) and I hope that you find it all as influential and exciting as I do.” Chloe’s motto is: “Try new things, be adventurous and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”
This post was commissioned by B£ and first appeared on Chloe’s blog, Made in Brixton.
The gift hamper has been around for many years, mostly given at Christmas and is traditionally a gift containing small non-perishable food items, particularly seasonal favourites such as fruitcake, nuts, jams, biscuits, honey, smoked or dried meats, and cheese.
Some hampers contain tea & coffee, and might also include a cup and saucer. More often than not these hampers were luxury and contained high-end items such as tins of caviar or bottles of wine.
Outside the UK the Christmas hamper is more usually called a gift basket and does not necessarily contain food items. Non-food gift baskets are frequently themed, such as baskets containing luxury bath items including scented soaps and towels, or beauty baskets with skincare products. These gift baskets are also popular for occasions other than Christmas such as baby showers and more corporate gifts where you don’t necessarily know the person that you are giving it to – A Safe gift option.
If you ask anyone to name a company that sells hampers they will most likely tell you Fortnum & Mason, Harrods or Selfridges. All their hampers come ready made and although you can pick the theme, the contents are usually fixed. To me this is a bit like the selection box of chocolates, where you like the majority of the chocs but always get left with the green triangles that no one eats.
This got me thinking …. What would I put in my hamper if I could choose?
I’d choose local produce, handmade items of a crafty nature and I’d look for traceability.
As I rarely buy for people I don’t know then I’d like to choose myself and make it personal!
And so – I took myself off around Brixton to find some alternative options and to see just how local I could go, even deciding to use the Brixton Pound too! Below are a few of my suggestions for putting together you’re own unique Christmas hampers (whilst supporting local businesses!)
The Brixton Pound was launched in September 2009 as a physical paper-based currency and was followed in September 2011 by the launch of the electronic B£ pay-by-text platform. Around 250 businesses currently accept paper B£ and over 160 have pay-by-text accounts.
The Brixton Pound is one of five local currencies that currently run in the UK, and was the first in an urban setting. The others are Totnes, Lewes, Stroud and Bristol and others are in the pipeline.
65 Brixton Village Market, SW9 8PS
Snuggled away in the heart of Brixton Village, this store already offers a wide range of ready made hampers starting from £26- £47. All the products are sourced locally either in Brixton or in the surrounding areas, and each product comes with its own story: Brixton Chutney made from the village veg, bees from South London for their honey etc.
They also sell all the items individually so you can make up your own hamper on site. They have hessian sacks, boxes, baskets, pie tins etc. all of which can be made to your personal requirements.
I’d advise you to choose this option and go at a quiet time as it’s much more pleasurable for both you and the staff to be able to take your time with choosing and preparing. The Cornercopia crew are all very helpful and very knowledgeable – they will gladly help you to choose should you need it!
You can also choose to buy something separately from the kitchen department of Cornercopia and take it to the cafe to be wrapped with other purchases!
Their best selling hamper (unsurprisingly) is the Brixton Village Hamper and they are offering 10% off your purchase with the B£ :-)!!!
If your friends and family aren’t as foodie as mine, or you need stocking filler inspiration, then there are some other really cute options:
Knitted reindeer pack – Faux Animals. Comes with Pattern, Wool, and knitting needles £36-45 depending on the animal (fox sells best).
Woolen blankets from Wales
Hand made aprons from Peckham by Scobel Clothing (could be for garden or ceramics too 😉 come in various one-off designs and prices.
Ceramics, including – The Possibilities Are Endless’, featuring ornithological drawings by Edwyn Collins
Cook Book – Brixton Village cook book by Miss South. (They have a book signing for this on the 6th December where they will have hot toddies!)
And a huge range of traditional and hand-made stocking fillers from £1-10!
Their Christmas opening times are:
Home store – Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm (until 9pm Thursdays and Fridays for late-night shopping)
Deli – Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm (until 11pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday)
Cornercopia have a Christmas shopping event on the 11th Dec, Pop-up Kitchen on Friday and Saturday evenings in December – check their website for full details!
Cornercopia take brixton pounds by text as well as cash!
10% discount with B£ in the kitchen store and free tea or coffe with purchases over £10 in the cafe during the week * please ask in store for details
It is clear that Cornercopia are all set for fulfilling your hamper needs, whether bespoke or ready-made, but I wanted to see what I could whip up from a willing local retailer who might not be so au-fait with the idea of the Christmas Hamper tradition.
3 Atlantic Rd, London SW9 8HX
A fabulous deli on Atlantic road. You’ll recognise it by the huge variety of fresh herbs and exotic vegetables outside the front. They don’t sell pre-made hampers but definitely fulfil the requirements for making up your own and it was the perfect place for me to try some hamper experimenting of my own!
I took down my own hampers and the co owner José Cardoso helped me to put together some themed gift hampers for my friends and family…..
Coffee and cake
Cheese and chutney
All the food channels have foodie gift ideas and one that seems popular this year is jars of ingredients. Lauraine Pascal had jars of dry ingredients for making ginger bread for example. Now I’d like to say I don’t have a terribly sweet tooth (I’m sure everyone else will disagree) and therefore i wanted something more savoury, so we put together paella pans with the spices to make the classic dish – 2 to 14 serving sizes available with prices starting form £6.60 and the smoked paprika spices or paella spices were £2.75- £4.75
If the idea of making something up your self fills you with fear then there are lots of other Christmas options that this store offers:
A vast range of Panettone in various sizes (£1.65-£25)
Lots of classic Italian biscuits and nougat – the perfect dinner party gift!
Cool secret santa gifts – Potted herbs – bay, Thyme, Rosemary all £3.50
Fresh chestnuts and Quince and all your other stockingfiller and Christmas dinner party needs.
Mon – Sat 8am -8pm
Open for a special one-off Sunday service on Sun 21st
24th closing at 6pm
They take B£ in cash only.
Amazingly friendly, multi lingual, helpful staff who are on hand with brilliant tips and advice. There’s even a free chocolate Santa for crying children or starving bloggers 😉
76 Atlantic Rd, London SW9 8PX
A new addition to the Brixton family – this cafe is right at the end of the string of shops on Atlantic road. They serve fresh cakes and meze style breakfast lunch and dinners all cooked on site. Not the most obvious of Hamper making venues but they have some fabulous take away and made to order options!
The owner helped me to make up a few hamper options with his delicious selection of hand make cakes and biscuits.
We chose from Biscuits filled with caramel & amaretto, sprinkled with cinnamon (£3.95), Walnut & Belgian Chocolate (£4.75), Almond flakes and apricot jam (3.95)
They have a local artist that sells his Teasets with prices starting from £14
And Allpress Coffee £7.50-£25
If you are a little more organized they can also make treats to order! You just need to allow a day or two in advance:
Minced pies made with puff pastry from £1.50( brilliant dinner party treat)
Large Orange and Polenta Cakes from £8.50
Chutneys and Jams
Fri 7- Midnight
Sat 8- Midnight
Christmas Eve – closing at 5pm
Boxing day 11-5
Free Spanish Guitar evening and mulled wine on 22nd Dec
NYE party details TBC but keep your ears open for details and tickets!
So! It turns out you can make your own hampers & gift boxes and support both a local currency & local businesses all at once! It’s a great way to give unique gifts, do some good doing it and have a lot of fun finding gift ideas in some sometimes unlikely places. It makes the whole event, well – a bit more of an EVENT! Happy hampering!
Thank you to Chloe! Merry BriXmas 🙂