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Gift Hampers - It's Origin

Oct 31, 2007
A hamper is a British term for a (primarily large) wicker basket that is used to transport food or other items. Many other forms of hampers exist, such laundry hampers and they are all related by the fact that they contain something, often in a form of basket. However, the gift hamper comes from the British meaning for the word.

Hampers are a long-standing tradition used by charitable organizations, such as St Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul) or by individuals for charitable use. They typically contain items for needy people, donated by members of a community or an organization. They may contain food, toiletries, clothes or other necessary household items. These are used to assist with a family economy.

The size of the hamper was limited, as up until the middle of the 20th century, the tradition in Western societies, was that the basket should be of a size that could be carried and physically given into the hands of the recipient. This meant that it would only contain enough items for one to two weeks use. These hampers were sent in baskets as the basket itself could become a useful household item and the lining used for the basket could be utilized by the recipient as well.

More recently, the traditional charitable hamper can be sent in a range of different containers - anything from a decorated box to a plastic bag is acceptable. They often also contain canned goods which can last far longer than the food that was sent in previous decades. The concept of these charitable hampers remains the same, however.
The tradition of the Christmas hamper as gift hamper originated before other gift hampers as the Christmas hamper began as a charitable donation. They were traditionally larger than other charitable hampers and contained party foods or toys and were more festive in appearance.

The tradition of the charitable gift hamper or the Christmas hamper has spread. These days, gift hampers can be given for any occasion - baby gifts, corporate gifts, birthday gifts, Mother's day gifts or just an "I'm thinking of you, mate" gift. The best part about gift hampers is that they can be made to order. You can include clothes, flowers, chocolates, fruits - just about anything you know that your friend likes. And they can be personalized with names, flags for country of origin, favourite colours etc. They are still most commonly given in baskets of some sort, but they can be given in any form of container that the giver desires. In fact, the sky is the limit when it comes to the content and presentation of gift hampers.
About the Author
Patrick Tang is the author of this article. His passion for good quality gourmet food and gifts has driven him to setup Fabulously Gourmet for the Australian Community.
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