Hampers were first mentioned in 1316, meaning a container, mainly a large, coarsely made basket, used to carry or contain food, but also utensils goblets, etc. It came from the Anglo-French word 'hanaper'..
It was initially used for charities, to provide food for the poor for special occasions. Then its function transformed. Rich people started to offer each other hampers of delicious fruit, vegetables, and meat varieties, imported from closer or far away lands, and special fine wines that they started to cultivate in their gardens. It was an honour to receive one from a prominent member of the aristocracy. That arrangement still changed again a bit, but not as dramatically as before.
In modern times, hampers got a make over. Although still used as gifts for special occasions, they tend to contain more than the traditional delicious food and drinks. For instance, in modern Holland, a new tradition developed where a family who gains a new member, receives a hamper which contains not only offerings for the new baby, but also for the mother and father. Practical or more emotional gifts are gathered in a hamper, decorated with flowers, and the parcels are wrapped nicely with a number on them. The family is allowed to open only one a day, and they don.t know who it is going to be for. All that brings some fun in the first stressful days after the birth.
But in general, in Europe and the US, hampers are used at all levels of society and business as a form of recognition on the part of the giver.
There are numberless ways to prepare a hamper, according to its destination. The costs also vary. You could either do it yourself , according to your budget and inclination, or you can find a wide variety of already prepared ones in a multitude of shops and malls.
If you do it yourself you could get some baskets of your own, with or without lids. Line the bottom of them according to the season, for instance, hay for Christmas, greens for Easter, nice wrapping paper, crumbled on not, silk padding for other occasions, like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, birth of a baby, etc..
Here are some suggestions:
Christmas and Easter hampers are traditionally, but not exclusively, including special seasonal food and drinks products. You could make some in advance, if you are talented, and freeze them. Then thoroughly defrost and put them in nice containers, and add to the hamper. Choose drinks of the best good quality you can afford, and to your recipient.s taste, if you know that.
Birthdays and Anniversaries are more special, because, most of the times you know the person or the family, or couple, better. So apart from the usual delicatessen and drinks, you could add something more personal, that you know they like.
Elderly people also require a more personal choice. As they might suffer from different ailments, it might be wise not to introduce products that could affect their health further. But it would be safe to think sometimes along the lines of herbal teas and juices, creams for mature skins, vouchers for their favourite health shop, etc...
Saying Goodbye to a dear employee, or at the office Christmas party, you could be more neutral but the products must be of the best quality you can afford. That will give the employees the confidence that they worked for the right company, or increase their desire to stay.
The possibilities are endless for these type of made to measure, personalized, gifts. And are always received with the thought that the giver really cared.