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The history of gift hampers

March 10, 2021

The history of gift hampers

Opening a hamper for any special occasion and feeling the delight and joy of the gifts inside isn't a new phenomenon. The tradition of gifting hampers stretches back over many centuries, with the first recorded traditional wicker baskets style hamper being created in the 1000s. Isn't that amazing?!

It's no surprise that hampers have continued to be a fail safe option when it comes to sending presents to loved ones, family members and friends. Gift hampers are guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face.

These days, you can find almost anything in a hamper. At the Awesome Hamper Company, we have an exciting range of hampers filled with delights including sweet treats and chocolates - however, originally, hampers had a more practical use.

What Were Hampers Originally Used For?

Gift Hampers

In fact, historically, hampers were used as an easy way to transport food and drink products on long journeys, or to give to impoverished people as charity hampers. It is believed that hampers were originally introduced to Great Britain by the French in the 11th century, with baskets filled with food and drink, and even clothing. Quite often these hampers were given to poor families as a charitable act by wealthy people.

In the days before cars, trains and planes, the easiest way to get around the country was with a horse and carriage. If you were wealthy, you had your own carriage and as a result, you could afford to fill your mode of transport with luxuries and goodies to keep you going on the journey. As a result, wealthy travelers often brought a hamper with them - think of it as an early lunch box!

For those who weren’t quite as wealthy, they could still hitch a ride on a ‘Stage Coach’ (an early form of public transport), and bring woven baskets of food and drink along for the ride

Gifting hampers became super popular thanks to the Victorians (another invention they gave us!). Coinciding with the emergence of train travel and the opening of the railways up and down the country, it suddenly became much easier to transport perishable food and drink products from town to town.

People were no longer replying on the slow horse and carriages of previous decades… in fact, thanks to the railways you could get from one end of the country to the other in a fraction of the time! Plus, when the first penny stamps became available in 1840, it became much easier and efficient to send friends and relatives gifts - particularly if they didn’t live nearby.

Ultimately, people began to pack up hampers with all sorts of goodies, treats and luxurious gifts, before sending them on the train to someone special. And that tradition continues to this very day!

Famous Hampers

The title of the most famous hampers in the world goes to luxury food and drink shop, Fortnum & Mason.

This London based shop, which apparently services the Royal family, has been creating their popular luxury hampers since the 1730s. Full of high end products, including champagne and caviar, these hampers are literally the creme de la creme of the hamper world, and historically have an upper crust reputation.

Fortnum & Mason hampers are sent to every corner of the globe as people long to have a slice of an upper class British tradition - a Fortnum & Mason hamper even made its way up Mount Everest in the 1920s!

Occasions Hampers are Gifted

Christmas Hampers

Christmas Hamper

At Christmas time, nothing quite shares the joy of the season like a Christmas hamper. Filled with Christmas themed gifts or food and drink items, a hamper is a great way to gift any loved one over the festive period (what better than a box full on snacks on boxing day). You can even DIY your own Christmas hamper and make it extra special for the one you love.

Birthday Hampers

Birthday Ballons

Big birthdays, or even just another year older, a gift hamper is the perfect way to celebrate this special occasion. Whether it's celebrating an 18th birthday with an alcohol hamper or gifting a sweet hamper to someone with a sweet tooth - there are so many options to choose from, so hampers will always make great gifts.

Anniversary Hampers

Whether it's your own wedding anniversary, or you're celebrating a milestone anniversary for your parents - a hamper is the perfect way to congratulate that special someone in your life.

New Baby Hampers

A new arrival brings so much happiness to every family, which is why it can be hard to find the perfect gift. A baby hamper filled with baby essentials and memorable gifts is the perfect way to celebrate this occasion.

Corporate Hampers

Corporate hampers are gift baskets given by businesses to their clients, partners, employees, or stakeholders during special occasions such as holidays, celebrations, or as tokens of appreciation. These hampers are the perfect way to show how valuable people are to you and show true appreciation for the hard work of your team!

With a history dating back over 900 years, we have no doubt that hampers will continue to reign supreme when it comes to presents and gifts… just watch this space though, as we have a sneaking suspicion they’ll get more and more me goes on!

Check out our full range of chocolate gift hampers and thousands of other gifts here.

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