Just when I thought I’d fantasised about the perfect hamper enough over the last couple of weeks, what do I spy on the printer at work today but a Selfridges voucher with the magic words ‘exclusive Anya Hindmarch-designed Christmas Hampers’ catching my eye. Well, I thought it was worth a little glance at their website!
And on checking it out I was struck by Anya’s quote:
“I have always been fascinated by hampers, their history and Britishness, but am always disappointed by yet another basket whose contents I don’t actually want to keep. When Selfridges asked if I wanted to design a hamper, I leapt at the idea of not only designing a hamper but choosing what I would really like to receive in one. The sort of ‘hamper you would really like hamper'”.
And she has really gone to town on the humble hamper. The yellow accents are very Selfridges for those not in the know and the big bow and A and H and so very Anya Hindmarch, generally emblazoned across her handbags. The range start with ‘Mother’s Ruin’ a tongue-in-cheek one for the mother-in-law containing a bottle of gin and a little cakes iced with the letters H I and C!
The top of the range is the £1000 Ultimate Girl’s, which contains amongst other things, forty bottles of nail varnish. Sadly it seems I can’t be anywhere near being the ‘ultimate girl’ because as much as I always have painted nails, they are always painted in the same colour – black! Well, it keeps things simple! There is also an iPod Nano, a Dolly Parton CD (?), Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Pretty Woman DVDs and the rather wonderful little Luxe travel guides. But surprisingly the only edible thing nestling amongst all the nail varnish, cleansers and tweezers are the (obligatory frankly) Charbonnel et Walker pink champagne truffles and hot chocolate, Anya Hindmarch designed Biscuiteers biscuit tin (with one hopes some biscuits contained therein) and raspberry marshmallow fluff. So the ultimate girl likes to tweeze, anoint and polish, entertain herself by reading etcetera but doesn’t really like to eat! However as Anya Hindmarch is the legendary handbag designer there is also a yellow cracker which well pulled could turn into a designer handbag – bonus! You can even customise your gift with an especially engraved yellow leather luggage tag.
I guess if nails aren’t your thing you could plump for the ‘Glutton’s hamper instead. Here you’ll find the more standard hamper fare, mint thins and chocolate coins, panettone, afternoon tea bags, Gentleman's Relish, coffee, Christmas pudding , brandy butter, ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover' DVD and A.A. Gill’s ‘Breakfast at the Wolseley’. And there is still the opportunity to win a fine handbag to go with your hamper.
There’s also a rather quirky Best of British hamper containing such iconic treats as Black Jacks, marmalade, Harrogate Toffee in a tin, Marmite (ughhh!), a tin of Colman's mustard powder, golden syrup, HP sauce, Monty Python 'The Meaning of Life' DVD and even a little Selfridges black taxi.
I thought before I closed the hamper catalogues for this year I should also check out Harrods though. Their top-of-the-shop most extravagant is the Chairman’s Choice at £5000. This is most exclusive as only eight have been made and in the handmade basket you’ll find a side of salmon, Brie de Meaux, truffle ham and Beluga caviar. And rare gems like a 30-year-old single cask Macallan 30 from Douglas Laing and a bottle of the dry Y de Château Y’quem. The seem to be a very distinct lack of nail polish and the cashmere fripperies so adorned by Snow Queens but there’s plenty of gourmet tuck! It seems that Harrods like to add to the air of mystery – lucky dip approach to hamper buying as they don’t like all the components. For example an individual item you can purchase is a box of luxury silver Pear Tree crackers which for the princely sum of £299 you can delight your guests with “a handmade crown for him or her, a booklet brimming with humour and trivia, a superb individually wrapped gift and a traditional snap”. But what sort of gifts could you expect; I guess there’s only one way to find out. Though I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t be one of those little metal puzzles or a cloth tape measure.
After due consideration I am still firmly in the Harvey Nichols’ and Fortnum and Mason’s camp and would just adore a few choice Harvey Nix goodies with a touch of F&M Snow Queen magic applied. If you haven’t seen the verbal drooling over their hamper offerings this year click here. But to be frank, as I have been privy to several conversations on this subject; especially regarding the wanton excess of the Snow Queen hamper – a princessly £25,000 don’t you know (and that’s not too many noughts!) If I had a spare £25k, one would assume I would live in a place palatial enough to house such enormously plump hampers but if by some extraordinary incredible and totally unlikely luck I was to be suddenly a proud possessor of such a fine assortment of magnificence, I’d probably have to move out. I don’t think there’s room for both me and a Snow Queen in my current abode. But a diva can dream can’t she?
And Fortnum’s if you are reading this, well done for just so fabulously trouncing all the other hampers providers in the unashamed luxury and sheer unadulterated opulence stakes this year with your Snow Queen - you are spoiling us. The Harrods’ Chairman Choice just isn’t even a contender.