What is the Hamper Party?
It’s holiday time again and that means time for our annual Christmas hamper-making party. The “party faithful” who’ve attended in past years know the routine, but for those of you who are new to this genial holiday highlight: welcome!
The Christmas Hamper Party is an event we started in Toronto in 1995. It’s basically a festive open house during which we create beautiful Christmas hampers from the menu items which each of our guests brings. As part of the party we decorate everything to create real Christmas gift hampers—not just utilitarian hand-outs. At the end of the party, the Salvation Army collects the hampers for delivery to needy families. The families that receive our hampers get all the healthy, fresh ingredients they need to cook a traditional Christmas turkey dinner in the privacy of their own homes, plus enough to share with their friends and loved ones.
It’s a Festive Working Party!
We start at noon on the Sunday before Christmas. We are a pretty epic operation now, so it takes us several hours to put the hampers together. People drop by throughout the afternoon to deliver the menu items they’ve agreed beforehand to bring. We provide a portion of the plastic laundry hampers we use to hold the food, plus packaging and decorations, and soup, Christmas cheer & cookies for our “workers.” At 6 pm the Salvation Army comes to pick up our filled hampers for delivery to needy families.
When the Sally Ann arrives with their moving van their workers come in from the cold for hot punch and cookies with us. This has become their tradition, too. Then we all go out to the front porch, our bagpiper pipes us out, we form a long line, and begin handing the hampers down the hill to load the van. Believe me, it’s awesome!
Hamper party-goers are free to drop off some goodies and zoom off to other errands, hang out and visit, or work like crazy till everything’s packaged up.
It All Adds Up
All contributions are welcome, from a frozen turkey to a can of cranberry sauce, and collectively it really adds up. Donations almost immediately disappear into a sea of goodies, so everyone feels equal. Cash donations are a godsend, enabling us to send out “runners” at the end of the day to buy any items the hampers still need.
You can click on the Hamper Menu to see what we put in each hamper. To avoid ending up with a hamper of nothing but carrots or cranberry sauce, we ask all our contributors to let us know in advance approximately what they’ll be giving. Of course, most people end up bringing cute extra holiday treats they see while shopping for the wholesome stuff!