Share this @internewscast.com
A generation ago, a bunch of roses or a box of chocolates was all that was needed to keep your other half happy on February 14. No longer. In 2022, if you want to impress them, you will have to hand over a hamper.
Yes, Valentine’s Day hampers — filled with fizz, biscuits, jams and truffles — have become big business this year. Some of the boxes even manage to squeeze in a dozen roses.
For the first time, for example, Fortnum & Mason has a range of six different Valentine’s Day hampers. And they are not the only ones to spot the trend.
‘We’ve really increased our range of Valentine’s Day hampers this year,’ says Gemma Barton at Cartwright & Butler, the Yorkshire gift company that used to specialise in tea and biscuits but has now branched out. ‘We saw a lot of searches for them last year during lockdown and have responded to consumer demand. I think it’s because people are more sentimental. Given everything we’ve been through in the past couple of years, people really want to give presents to those who mean something to them.’
Harry Wallop (pictured) gives verdict on a selection of Valentine’s Day hampers available to buy in the UK
Hampers on offer range from little more than a token box of chocolates and small bottle of prosecco to extravagant cornucopias, overflowing with truffled cheddar, fine wines and scented candles — and there are several aimed at men, too. After all, what says romance more than real ale and a pork pie?
But with so many on offer, which are the best? And considering Valentine’s Day is also known as the day when normal food costs twice the usual price, are there any worth forking out for?
The Fortnum’s Couples Retreat Hamper, £175, fortnumandmason.com
As you would hope with Britain’s most famous hamper provider, this comes beautifully presented and filled with fabulously elegant treats.
It is aimed at someone with a sweet tooth and a love of all things rich. The chocolate gianduja wafer cake is less of a cake and more an enormous, indulgent, flat Ferrero Rocher; the chocolate-covered raspberries (freeze-dried) are super-sweet; and you get truffles, too.
Harry said The Fortnum’s Couples Retreat Hamper (pictured) is aimed at someone with a sweet tooth and a love of all things rich
There is also English sparkling wine, olives, some pistachio and clotted cream biscuits, and a caddy of fancy rose tea. A slightly odd addition is a small tin of rose petals to help you ‘woo the god or goddess of your life’. If you insist.
The hamper contains £122 worth of goods, so you are forking out about £50 extra for an admittedly very elegant hamper. Delivery is a further £6. For many that will be a price worth paying for the seal of quality. For the rest of us, it borders on bonkers. 4/5
TRULY SWEET TREAT
Way To Your Heart Hamper, £40, hotelchocolat.com
Harry said Way To Your Heart Hamper (pictured) looks special thanks to the presentation and for the volume of goodies you get, it’s great value
This is an elegant box, rather than a hamper, but looks special thanks to the presentation, with all the different chocolates and the bottle of prosecco on show.
The fizz is a pretty tiny bottle —a generous single measure, rather than big enough for sharing. But there are tons of interesting chocolates, including a Hotel Chocolat trademark H-Box, filled with caramels, fruit-filled chocolates and pralines. The strawberries & cream puddles are addictively good. For the volume of goodies you get, this is great value. 4/5
HERE FOR THE BEER
The Way To My Heart Grazing Gift, £40, marksandspencer.com
Harry said The Way To My Heart Grazing Gift (pictured) is fun but it doesn’t feel that special
Is this a hamper? No. Though Marks & Spencer is so keen to jump on the hamper bandwagon it lists this — along with the inevitable Colin the Caterpillar gift bag — under a special Valentine’s Hamper section on its website.
Aimed squarely at the pork‑and-cheese-loving man in your life, it comes with a canvas tote and includes two bottles of Southwold blonde beer, a chunky pork pie, pork scratchings, a large bag of crisps, caramelised red onion chutney, crackers, cheese twists (which are excellent, by the way) and a heart-shaped truckle of truffle‑flavoured cheddar, which is also delicious. Plus, you get a bag of gooey chocolate hearts and three Love Whips, Marks & Spencer’s twist on their moreish Walnut Whips.
It’s fun, but it doesn’t feel that special. And you could pick up the contents for £26 plus the tote by shopping in the store.3/5
BELLINIS IN BED
Valentine’s Breakfast Hamper For Two, £65, hampers.com
Harry said Valentine’s Breakfast Hamper For Two (pictured) comes in a bamboo tray, which is a nice alternative to a hamper
Instead of splashing out on an overpriced dinner for two in your local bistro, why not share breakfast in bed?
This hamper includes some cracking up-and-coming British brands including coffee firm Coaltown, based in Ammanford, South Wales, and Husk & Honey Granola, which makes extremely tasty cereals in South London and supplies upmarket hotels.
Also included: Ace tea, strawberry and tonka bean jam, two large tea cakes, a bottle of prosecco and some peach juice so you can mix your own bellini cocktails in bed.
The bamboo tray is a nice alternative to a hamper and would make a great storage solution for your paperwork afterwards — if you’re not feeling romantic!
There’s a fair premium to pay for the hamper but the selection of products is great — and so is the idea. 4/5
Valentine’s Luxury Cheese & Bubbly Hamper, £60, snowdoniacheese.co.uk
Harry said Valentine’s Luxury Cheese & Bubbly Hamper (pictured) has high quality contents that are splendid for cheese lovers
If you are a cheese lover, this is splendid. Smaller than a shoe box, it crams a lot in: a handsome, if small, presentation slate; The Art Of Chocolate sea salt caramel truffles (seriously good); a pack of Miller’s Damsel scrumptious buttermilk crackers; two of Snowdonia’s trademark waxed wrapped cheeses: the Black Bomber, an extra mature cheddar; and Red Storm, a vintage Red Leicester, which is spectacularly nutty.
The only duff note is the overly sweet rhubarb & gin chutney. (Why do food companies insist on adding gin to everything?)
Accompanying the hamper, rather than in it, is a bottle of Chapel Down’s sparkling rosé, one of England’s best sparkling wines.
There is a version of this hamper without the fizz, costing £35. Either are decent value, considering the high quality of the contents. 5/5
. . . AND ROSES, TOO!
Especially For Her Hamper, £69.64, cartwrightandbutler.co.uk
Harry said Especially For Her Hamper (pictured) is less of a hamper, more of an elegant box tied up with a bow
Less of a hamper, more of an elegant box tied up with a bow, this contains a tin of 12 heart-shaped praline chocolates, a full bottle of prosecco, a rather pungent vanilla-scented candle and 12 pink blush roses cunningly packaged in a thin ‘letterbox’ parcel at the bottom of the main box. Amazingly, the roses emerge completely unscathed.
The value of the contents is £54.50, so you’re paying a £15 premium to have it packaged up in a box and delivered, but the clever addition of the roses-by-post makes this fair value. 4/5