This Christmas, thanks to the cost of living, many of us will be planning to keep our celebrations a bit cheaper. With everything just costing that bit more, the bells and whistles of Christmas are simply unaffordable.
Of course, Christmas is about much more than the material things. So why do Christians give presents at Christmas? One answer is this: to represent the gift that Christ gave us, the best gift of all: hope. But the reality is that, for far too many families across the UK this winter, hope feels far away, because it’s going to be a struggle just to afford the very basic essentials.
It’s simply not acceptable that 28% of people are being forced to skip meals because of the cost of living, and 1 in 10 are having to leave their gas or electricity off because the bills are too high. But this is the stark reality, and it’s why we must work together to do something about it. There are so many alternatives to giving gifts at Christmas that can make a positive difference, one of which is choosing to provide a Christmas hamper to someone in need instead.
Why build a Christmas hamper?
A Christmas hamper full of essentials is not only the potential difference between someone eating or not, between having toiletries or not, being able to afford their gas and electricity or not. It also could well be the difference between them feeling completely alone, and finally experiencing a glimmer of that much-needed hope that Jesus came to bring us.
A hamper meets the urgent, practical needs of someone struggling with debt or poverty. It can include things like food, but also phone top-ups, gas and electricity money, school uniform, prescription payments, or anything the individual or family urgently needs.
How to build a Christmas hamper
If you want to build a hamper for a friend in need or that your church can give to someone who could do with a bit of extra support this Christmas, here’s how to build a Christmas hamper that includes all the necessities and more.
Start with the basics
When starting to build a Christmas hamper, begin with the basic essentials that we all need day to day. This includes things like toiletries, laundry and cleaning supplies.
Feminine hygiene products
Shampoo and conditioner
Nappies or other items for a baby
Laundry detergent (washing powder or pods)
Washing up liquid
Kitchen roll, antibacterial wipes or similar
What food to put in a Christmas hamper
When deciding what food items to put into your Christmas hamper, consider different options like frozen items, fresh fridge items, and things that can be stored in the cupboards that will last longer. You’ll want a mixture of these, as well as making sure you’ve got a blend of carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, and protein.
Frozen pizza or other quick and easy meals
Frozen roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings or other Christmas dinner items
Fridge and fresh
Fruit and vegetables (e.g. apples, bananas, satsumas, tomatoes, onions, peppers)
Bread (a couple of loaves!)
Meat (e.g. chicken breasts, minced beef)
Biscuits / chocolate for packed lunches
Tins of beans
Tins of soup
Tinned fruit and vegetables that will last longer than the fresh ones
Oil for cooking
Tea (buy in bulk)
Condiments (e.g. ketchup, salt, pepper)
Gravy, cranberry sauce (or other sauces) and stuffing for Christmas Day!
People need more than just food this Christmas. Things to keep warm, such as a hot water bottle, can go a long way, as can top ups for phones, or gas and electricity. As well as making sure people are fed, it’s important to help people stay warm and connected to others, as winter can be an especially isolating time of year.
Hot water bottle
Sweet and savoury treats (e.g. chocolate, crisps, other Christmas-themed snacks!)
Gas and electricity money
School uniform or items
Christmas presents for the children (and adults!)
Whatever the individual or family urgently needs
If you know the person or family you’re building a Christmas hamper for, why not ask them if there’s any other things you can help with? For example, maybe they could do with some school items, uniforms or prescription payments. Make sure to think about any specific needs they may have and tailor your Christmas hamper to their personal circumstances.
Give financially towards a Christmas hamper
Not everyone can go out and buy an entire hamper, nor is everyone aware of someone in need to give it to. That’s why passionate churches across the UK are creating Christmas hampers for families and individuals in their communities, as part of our Christmas appeal. If you’d like to, you can give a financial gift towards an emergency package, and support someone in need this winter.