Top notch tea and coffee are hamper staples, and now you can choose ethical brands. The Rare Tea Company, set up by former banker Henrietta Lovell, sources top-notch tea direct from growers, and sends it out in smart reusable tins. Earl Grey connoisseurs will love the Rare Tea version, made with real bergamot oil (Earl Grey tea £6.49 for 50g, rareteacompany.com). Yallah coffee in Cornwall buys its Sail Ship Coffee at a premium from producers in Colombia and transport it here by wind power on sailing ships, putting the carbon footprint at close to zero. The coffee has the balance and faint sourness of the best “hipster” barista versions (£9.50 for 250g, yallahcoffee.co.uk).
Also try: Herbal teas by in stylish tins from Nemi at socialsupermarket.org
Good crackers are great for making impromptu canapés as well as with cheese – try them with a dollop each of tapenade and creme fraiche. The Fine Cheese Co cracker selection comes in a tin, which means they won’t go stale between larder raids, and it can be refilled long after the first batch of crackers is finished (flavoured crackers selection tin, £13.95, finecheese.co.uk).
Also try: Peter’s Yard have a terrific range, including sourdough round crispbreads with a hole, petersyard.com
Stilton is the classic, but huge slabs tend to linger after Christmas, while there’s always plenty to do with leftover Cheddar. A whole round looks great too, but wax-wrapped versions tend to be oddly soft textures. Opt for a whole cloth-wrapped cheddar instead. Royal cheesemongers Paxton and Whitfield have a dinky Cheddar Pounder (£15.50 for 550g or a 1.8kg Cheddar Truckle, £40, paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk).
Also try: a truckle of cheesemaker Quicke’s Devonshire red, quickes.co.uk