Indulge with a basket of gourmet treats

Timothy Barber
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IN the season of excess, hampers overflowing with foodie favourites and boozy delights have become central to our idea of seasonal indulgence. And these days they’re better than ever – the organic revolution and revival of interest in quality local food means that the best hampers are bursting with variety and class. Artisan cheeses, mouth-watering relishes and chutneys, fabulous confectionaries and foods of every kind are more widely available than ever, prepared with painstaking care and skill. Here are a few of the finest hampers to give someone this Christmas – or even better, to keep as a treat for yourself.

The popular Marylebone cafĂ© and delicatessen offers several hampers, ranging from a simple Italian gift box (olive oil, white wine, pasta and sauce) for £29.99 up to the Christmas Deluxe Hamper (pictured above). Items include panettone, onion and olive relish, duck rillettes with foie gras, a couple of bottles of wine, one of champagne, and a Christmas cake made in Villandry’s kitchens. Villandry, 170 Great Portland Street, W1W 5QB. 020 7631 3131,

This extravaganza of a Christmas hamper saves you the need to do anything on Christmas day other than whack the bird in the oven when the time comes. There’s a large York ham, a Christmas pudding, smoked salmon, all manner of seasonal condiments and several bottles of expensive booze to make Christmas day go swimmingly. 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER. 020 7734 8040,

If you’re planning a fancy Christmas do, The Knightsbridge is packed with seasonal fare from the Food Hall. Mince pies, Christmas pud, confectionary goodies, wine and tea are all included. If you really want to splash out, Harrods offers the Chairman’s Connoisseur Concierge Service for creating a bespoke hamper to order – prices for that start at £1,000. 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL. 020 7730 1234,

If you’re keen on locally-sourced produce, look no further than British Fine Foods, where a tiny team source the best Brit produce around. The British Fine Foods Hamper is an epicurean delight, packed to bursting with fish, ham, crab, puddings, pates and cheeses from the country’s best producers. The Christmas In A Box options will take care of the Christmas Day meal, with four course options for up to 18 people available, starting with £99 for four. 01342 811773,

Luxury specialists Quintessentially have made things pleasingly simple – you can go for a small, medium or large hamper, at £75, £150 and £250. The large includes Pol Roger champagne, red and white wine, organic sloe gin on the booze front, plus fruit and nut cake, vintage cheeses, fine biscuits, Daville of Windsor green tea, and various jars of condiments and anti pasti, including chutney from those purveyors of things organic and delicious, Daylesford. 08452 248876,