Hampers and Gift Boxes - 10 of the Best

A carefully selected hamper always makes a good Christmas present, but this year it’s different - hampers and gift boxes are not only a pleasure to give and to receive, but also a lifeline for artisan producers who have found so many of their routes to market closed off in recent months. So - chosen from the huge selection of excellent offerings that are available this year, here’s our pick of the season’s top choices around the country. And don’t forget to check around your local area, where there may be all sorts of gems for collection within your neighbourhood. Who’s for a full Christmas dinner for six, for example, prepared by Richard Corrigan and the team at Virgina Park Lodge, Co Cavan? Nice one!

Ardkeen Quality Food Store
Dunmore Road Waterford Co Waterford
Tel: 051 874620

Run by the Jephson family since 1967, Waterford’s famous speciality supermarket offers one of the best ranges of Christmas food boxes and hampers available anywhere in the country. Predictably enough they sell out fast, but they are continuing to re-stock. The price range is encouragingly wide - hampers cost from about €25 to €400 and there’s even a Create Your Own Gift package from €8.50, so you can add as little or as much as you like to make up a bespoke hamper. Aiming for a ‘feel of careful consideration’, the names of the Ardkeen hampers are proudly inspired by the beautiful coves and townlands of Co. Waterford and each one is curated from Ireland’s best range of artisan small scale food producers, with 100% recyclable, biodegradable or re-usable packing used. Typically, The Ardmore Hamper (€75) contains 12 products, including The Lismore Food Company All Butter Irish Shortbread Fine Biscuits, Befani's of Clonmel Spicy Pear & Date Chutney, Comeragh Raw Heather Honey, Skelligs Handmade Chocolate Truffles, and Richmount Elderberry Cordial.

Boyne Valley Flavours
Contact: rebeccameademarketing@gmail.com
Tel: 86 6078184 (office hours)

This year, for the first time, members of the Boyne Valley Flavours group of producers in counties Meath and Louth are offering a selection of beautiful festive hampers containing lots of delicious food and drink products from the Boyne Valley, for collection or nationwide delivery. Christmas Hampers are available to purchase on their website with free nationwide delivery on orders over €100. Hampers range from €45 (Christmas Cupboard Hamper) to €100 (Gourmet Hamper) and there’s an option to include a bottle from one of the region’s excellent drinks portfolio, which includes Listoke Gin, Slane Whiskey, Boann Distillery products such as Irish Cream Liqueur, Coole Swan Liqueur and the gorgeous Cider Mill naturally produced ciders. All orders will be dispatched on Monday 21st December, or can be collected at local collection points: Boann Distillery, Platin Road, Drogheda, Co. Meath on Monday 21st December, or Rock Farm Slane Farmers’ Market on Mon 21st -Wed 23rd December.

Give the Gift of Wexford

For many Irish families, holidays down through the generations have created close links to the Sunny South-East, so a gift from Wexford will have especially happy associations. And, as you’ll find from a few minutes browsing the Taste Wexford site, there’s no shortage of good things to choose from. They’ve posted links to individual businesses ranging from Bean and Goose chocolate, Tasty Parlour gluten-free and Wild About chutneys, preserves and syrups to O’Neills Bacon, the new Table Forty One cookbook and Jackford Irish Potato Gin - and also offer hampers ranging from €75 to €200, all of which include some locally made craft items and come packed in a handsome and strongly-made wooden crate which should soon find a permanent use in any home. Some boxes include cheese, which limits the shelf-life, althought honey can be substituted instead on request - and most boxes are ambient temperature. The order deadline for nationwide Christmas delivery is Thursday 17th December, or locally - within County Wexford - Saturday 19th December.

Belfast Food Tour in a Box
Portview Trade Centre Newtownards Road Belfast
Tel: 028 9045 7723 (office hours)

Offering ‘a wee taste of Belfast’ in your own home this Christmas, popular events company, Taste & Tour, has pivoted from walking food tours to specially curated selections of Belfast's best-loved local produce to create a taste of the Belfast Food Tour experience in a box. Hampers tend to be for sharing, so it’s nice that they start with The Wee One (‘just the right amount for one hungry foodie’); at £50 it includes local charcuterie, cold-pressed rapeseed oil, hand-rolled butter, artisan chocolate, organic smoked salmon, two kinds of local cheese with fancy crackers and chutney, as well as Armagh apple juice - and for an extra £10 it can also include local beer, local cider and a miniature 5cl bottle of local gin with mixer and garnish. Bigger hampers are available at £80 and £100 and all include informative ‘fantastic facts’ about each of the suppliers and products. For more details and to order hampers or vouchers visit https://tasteandtour.co.uk/bftinabox

Burren Smokehouse Online
Lisdoonvarna Co Clare
Tel: 065 707 4432 (office hours)

Smoked fish has become a must-have treat at Christmas for most of us and a gift from The Burren Smokehouse is at the top of many a wish list - but, as well as their famous smoked fish, you might be surprised by the range of products offered in their online shop, including many other local artisan foods produced by Burren Food Trail  members (plus a few from further afield), as well as their own ranges (including Wild Burren Smoked Irish Salmon, from €15). There’s vacuum packed black and white pudding by Haugh butchers at Market House in Ennistymon, for example, Burren Gold and St Tola cheeses, Granola and a Brown Soda Bread Mix from Stonecutters Kitchen, Beetroot Chutney and Whiskey Marmalade from Burren Fine Wine and Food - and a whole range of hampers, including a Burren Basket in various sizes. The top end pick is the Luxury Hamper at €435, but their price range is reassuringly wide and it’s well worth a browse. Overnight shipping is offered in Ireland & Northern Ireland, and exports are also available to USA, Japan, Europe and other countries.

James Whelan Butchers
Clonmel Co Tipperary
Tel: 052 6182477

A meat hamper might not be the first thing to come to mind as a Christmas present, but perhaps it’s time to think again. James Whelan Butchers of Clonmel - well known countrywide for their speciality meat counters at Avoca stores and Dunnes - has a terrific range of traditional Christmas meats available online, including their Great Taste Awards 3-star winning Heritage Irish Ham (whole €49.99, easy-carve €39.99), free range turkey, and goose - which is pricey at €100, but geese are costly to produce and what a treat. Also, having formed a partnership with one of the great pioneers of the Irish meat trade, the inimitable Peter Hannan of Hannan Meats in Moira, Co Down, Whelan’s also offer a range of their famous Himalayan Salt-Aged Beef…Delivery (on 23rd December) is free in Ireland and Northern Ireland on all orders over €100, and some products can also be exported to the UK. Click and collect is also available, plus special local deliveries within 15km of one of their 10 shops.

Sligo Food Trail Festive Hampers

You might expect a Christmas hamper to have "eating and drinking” in it, but some of the most interesting ones have reading in them too - and, in the case of the Deluxe Sligo Food Hamper (€150), it’s nothing but the best: a copy of seaweed queen Prannie Rhatigan's "Irish Seaweed Christmas Kitchen". And, while most of the goodies will be enjoyed immediately, the Sligo Food Trail have cleverly included some other durable items too - a Lough Gill Brewery beer glass, a Sligo Oyster Experience candle, a Yeats print from WB's Coffee House - so you’ll have some reminders around all year. As to the edible contents, there’s a good range included, reflecting the style of the county’s producers - Granola from WB's, Christmas Pudding from The Gourmet Parlour and handmade chocolates by award winning chef Alan Fitzmaurice of the Glasshouse Hotel are just a few examples, along with craft beer from Lough Gill Brewery. Offering a smaller range of contents The Taste of Sligo Food Trail Hamper costs just €65 and, in both cases, courier delivery is available within Ireland or orders can be picked up from WB's Coffee House in Sligo Town or Murson's Farm in Grange.

Ballyvolane Gift Boxes
Balyvolane House Fermoy Co Cork

There are no half measures at the Green family’s East Cork gem, Ballyvolane House - it was the case when they developed one of Ireland’s best and most authentic craft gins, the whey-based Bertha’s Revenge - and it’s no different with their extremely covetable Ballyvolane Gift Boxes. Just €65 will buy the generously filled Ballyvolane Favourites Gift Box containing 2 coffee mugs, Badger & Dodo Blackwater Blend Coffee, Bertha’s Revenge Gin Marmalade made by Crossogue Preserves, mini bottles of Bertha’s Revenge Gin and Bertha’s Sloe Gin and a box of Hadji Bey Turkish Delight. Two other hampers - The Great Indoors and The Great Outdoors - are priced at €105 and filled equally generously and with typical Ballyvolane originality. What a welcome surprise to find a handy hip flask along with a bottle of sloe gin and Biddy White Lennon and Evan Doyle’s foraging guide ‘Wild Food’ in the Great Outdoors selection - and a range of indispensable ‘home bar’ items in the Great Indoors party starter pack! Everything’s packaged up in an eco-friendly cardboard box, with a handwritten personal message (no less) and straw - and the boxes are shipped in a recycled plastic postal bag for protection. Full marks to Justin and the team. And Gift Vouchers are available too, of course.

Taste of Tipperary Hamper

Founded in 2008, Tipperary Food Producers is a network of Tipperary’s artisan food and beverage producers and its members includes some of the best producers in the land, including network Chairman Con Traas of the wonderful Cahir fruit farm, The Apple Farm. They’ve been planning to create a hamper for some time and - although ideal for Christmas - it’s an all-year offering, with products from ten producers: Con’s Apple Cider from The Apple Farm; Artisan Ketchup by 3 Men in a Trailer; Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese; Cashel Blue Cheese; Crossogue Preserves Chutney; Vera Miklas Freeze Dried Strawberries; Rivesci’s Cashew Chilli Crush; Irish Hedgerow Elderflower Refresher drink; Wildflower Honey from Galtee Honey Farm and Ayle Farm’s homemade granola. A collaboration with Hampers & Co, which was founded in Tipperary in 1993, the “Taste of Tipperary” Hamper is €70; for more information and to purchase visit https://hampersandco.com/the-tipperary-food-producers-hamper.html or https://hampersandco.com

Manning’s Emporium Hampers
Ballylickey Co.Cork
Tel: 027 50456

Close your eyes and think yourself in West Cork, drinking in the rich coffee and cheesey aromas of Mannings Emporium at Ballylickey. Next best thing is to log onto their website and browse the kindly priced and surprisingly extensive range of hampers that they offer online. To take one example, a savoury Taste of West Cork collection (6 items) costs just €39.99 for a selection of local cheeses (Durrus, Milleens, Gubbeen), salami from Gubbeen Smokehouse, Manning’s Emporium own special relish, WASI Pesto by Claire O’Sullivan, and Seymour’s savoury cheese sables. They are, as Manning’s say themselves, the perfect staples to create your own antipasti board at home - and the box comes with details of the products and their producers too. Presented in a classic gift box with personalised gift tag, this makes a very special present for less than €50 (including delivery at €7.95) - and it’s just one of a range that includes a Gluten Free box (€54.95), the Manning’s Select Gourmet Hamper (€250) and a Winemakers’ Box from Ireland’s modern wine geese, at €225.


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