Christmas shopping can be a minefield; balancing thoughtfulness, quality, wit and even usefulness has become a pulse-quickening puzzle in these times of generic gift guides and pressurised present-buying. Hampers can be the answer. Infinitely customisable with options to suit all budgets; boxes and baskets crammed full with treats take the hard work out of the festive frenzy. Here are some particularly excellent ones to be found in Leeds:
Health food and local produce store Millie’s specialises in hampers tailored to all needs – with a strong ethical and environmentally-friendly focus. Those seeking a fantastic gluten-free gift will find a choice of two, nicely-wrapped selections of biscuits, pasta and sauces, and there’s also Yorkshire-themed, fine food, tea, pasta, chilli, cheese and beauty boxes to choose from too. Prices start from £10 and delivery is available.
2) Le Chalet
French-themed tearoom Le Chalet hasn’t been on Park Row long, but is making sure it gets noticed this Christmas with a range of luxury hampers to suit every wannabe Parisian. Filled with a variety of tea, macarons, sugared almonds wine, chocolate, conserves and cheese, the gift-wrapped baskets start from £20 and can be endlessly customised from an impressive range of Gallic treats.
3) Friends of Ham
Meat meets cheese and beer is the basic premise of Friends of Ham, and the hugely popular Leeds-based bar and eatery has managed to distil the essence of its ingeniously simple concept into rustic hampers, combining top-quality oils, tapenades, beers, cheese and crackers so fans can replicate the ‘Fram’ experience at home. From £22.50.
4) Pooky & Grumps Delicatessen
Running a deli outside the city centre is a challenging task, but little Pooky & Grumps Delicatessen in the sophisticated suburb of Horsforth is a winner with locals. The friendly and chic local café and shop specialises in local produce, Italian deli staples, gourmet treats and a wide range of cheeses and charcuterie, which can be combined to form reasonably-priced Christmas hampers available to order in-store.
5) Salvo’s Restaurant & Salumeria
Leeds’ most beloved and famed Italian restaurant lets fans spread the love at Christmas with a range of present options for all budgets. The Salvo’s hamper typically consists of fresh and authentic salami and cheese, wines and liqueurs, biscotti, pesto, chocolate and pasta – with the festive favourite panettone, of course. Prices start from around £25 and the boxes can be delivered for easy gifting.
6) Hotel Chocolat
For when only posh choccies will do, Hotel Chocolat’s luxury hampers are geared towards satisfying even the most voracious chocoholic. Cacao-based delights and alcoholic tipples are paired and primed for pressies in the enticingly-named range, which includes Adventures in Chocolate Selection, The Signature Cabinet and the Christmas Collection Priced between £25 and £300, the gift takes the shop’s artistic confectionery, adds some seductive black packaging and ribbons, and turns it all into gifts you’ll find hard to give away.
7) Hepworth’s Delicatessen Hamper Store & Pantry
The pop-up extension to Hepworth’s Deli in the neighbouring Thornton’s Arcade, Hamper Store places the focus firmly on great products and customisable gift boxes. A wide range of locally-sourced treats includes Lottie Shaw’s traditional bakes, The Yorkshire Fudge Company, The Chilli Jam Man, Cartwright and Butler preserves and chutneys, and Art of Mallow gourmet marshmallows.
Everyone knows a beer-lover and, for the connoisseurs on your to-buy list, Beer-Ritz in Headingley has a wide range of beer selections geared towards gifting. The piece-de-resistance is surely the Christmas Beer Selection 12-pack (£35), which promises a “cockle-warming combination of new treats and old favourites”, including the amusingly-named Ridgeway Bad Elf, Ilkley Brewery’s legendary Mary Christmas, and Great Heck’s Black Santa.
9) Wilsons Butchers
For when only the meaty will do: Wilsons hampers aren’t exactly as sweetly-presented as some of the other gift selections available in Leeds, but the butchers’ made-up packs of meat are great for getting set for a big dinner party, with many different cuts and varieties of meat paired with chestnut stuffing pork pies, cranberry sauce, and chutneys. Wilson and its simple ethos is the celebration of all things meat, which has earned the business the title of England’s Best Independent Butcher. Find shops in Cross Gates, Armley and Morley.
10 ) Carluccio’s
Slick Italian chain eatery Carluccio’s is helping customers say “Buon natale!” in the chicest way, with a selection of pre-packaged hampers ready for stress-free gifting for a range of occasions. Sold online and from the Greek Street restaurant, the smartly-packaged giftboxes can be as elaborate as the Il Massimo (£75), packed with favourites, or as simple as a panettone and Prosecco combo (£25.95).
Words: Lauren James