Wee Birdy’s 25 Best Christmas Crackers 2016
Happy merry ho ho, it’s time for my 9th annual Christmas cracker round-up! Welcome.
If you’re new to this Wee Birdy tradition, you should know that I’m a bit obsessed with crackers. This list started in 2007, when I arrived in London and was soon introduced to a whole new world of amazing Christmas crackers – from Liberty to Lakeland.
Sure, we love to pop a cracker or two in Australia, but I’d never seen the likes of crackers exclusive to London department stores like Liberty, Harrods and Selfridges, along with crackers from charities and independent UK designers.
I’ve since returned to Sydney, but my search for the ultimate cracker continues…
Here, my best 25 Christmas crackers from Britain and Australia, 2016. Let’s get cracking, shall we? (ho ho hmmm.)
1. Fortnum’s Terrific Tipples Crackers, set of six, £50 from Fortnum and Mason.
Start your feast with some boozy cheer for all of your guests. Each cracker contains a paper crown and an entertaining scroll, plus miniature bottle of spirits or wine including a Chase Vodka, Plymouth Gin Jose and Cockburn’s Fine Tawny.
2. Charbonnel et Walker Christmas Cracker Drum, set of six £45 from Harrods.
This Victorian-style festive drum by Carbonnel et Walker (maker of my favourite London heritage chocolates) would find a place on my Christmas table, with each each harlequin-patterned cracker containing either a Pink Marc de Champagne truffles (drool) or Milk Sea Salt Caramel truffles.
3. RSPB Racing robins crackers, set of six, £12.99 from RSPB.
Turn your table into a festive racing track with these crackers from UK charity Royal Society for Protection of Birds. Each cracker contains a wind-up robin to race, joke and hat.
4. Sophisticate Christmas Crackers, set of six, £400 from Fortnum and Mason.
The most expensive set to make my list, this superb set of of crackers from the iconic Piccadilly store was created to mark the opening of their second floor beauty and fragrance department. Each cracker contains a luxe pampering gift such as Cult51’s spectacular Night Cream, a set of Aromatherapy Associates’ bath oils collection, Margaret Dabbs Foot Oil, a bitter orange Agraria bath bar, botanic body balm and Maison Caulieres body oil. But is it worth 400 quid? Obviously someone thinks they are, although I’ve noticed that Fortnums signature £1,000 cracker is missing this year.
5. Asprey Minute Timer Cracker, £210 each from Harrods.
Asprey’s crackers can be relied upon to provide the most decadent crackers, with each cracker containing a sterling silver gift from the iconic luxury goods brand. Ideal for the Honks, Pongos and Bunnys around your dinner table, you’ll shell out £1, 260 for six crackers containing trinkets such as sterling silver egg cups, spirit measures and atomisers. Unless, of course, you’re hilariously ironic and buy your crackers from Tesco. Frightening good fun, etc.
6. Meri Meri cat and dog crackers, set of six, $26 from Selfridges.
Dog and cat lovers unite! Each adorable cracker contains a paper hat, a joke and a terrific miniature toy, typical of American party goods brand Meri Meri (think miniature bowls and hoopla).
7. Rainbow super deluxe crackers, set of six, $83 from Selfridges.
Handmade in England for Selfridges, these crackers from Dorset-based Celebration Crackers will bring a splash of colour to your Christmas dinner. Each cracker contains some rather nice gifts, such as a corkscrew, magic trick, photo frame, bottle opener, nail clippers, sewing kit, playing cards, reindeer bottle opener, black mirror, screwdriver set, and mini screwdriver set.
8. Meri Meri Nutcracker crackers, set of eight, £22.95 from Harrods.
Here you’ll find a beautifully designed Clara, toy soldier, ballerina doll and nutcracker adorning this set of eight crackers. Each contains a gold gold foil hat, joke and whistle.
9. Joyeux Noel Santa Illustration Christmas Crackers, set of 12, £15 from Marks and Spencer.
You can depend on Marks and Spencer to give good value with these traditionally festive Santa stamp crackers. Each cracker contains a rather nice gift, party hat and Christmas joke.
10. London lines Christmas crackers, set of six, £13 from Paper Chase.
London lovers and locals alike will appreciate the iconic Tube design emblazoned upon each cracker, which contains fun prizes like marbles, playing cars and fortune fish.
11. Paperchase Christmas Dogs in Hats Crackers, set of six, $26 from ASOS.
It appears that dogs and cats are trending in crackers this year. Now that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write, but there you go? Here’s a set of crackers adorned with dogs wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers, guaranteed to either delight or baffle your Christmas guests. They can also fight over their dog breed of choice. Each cracker includes a hat, recipe (unclear whether this is for humans or canines) and gift inside.
12 Sunnylife Party pullers(crackers) fruit salad, set of six, $49.95 from Little Paper Lane.
Crackers get the Australian Christmas treatment this year, thanks to Sydney brand Sunnylife. While I was expecting some kind of giant cracker inflatable, their set of six crackers doesn’t disappoint, with jokes and summer-inspired wind-up toys.
13. Alice in a Winter Wonderland Crackers, £24.95 from Liberty.
Ah Liberty. You never fail to impress with your wonderfully luxe crackers, even if you refuse to reveal a photo of the innards. Curiouser and curiouser! Not to worry – who doesn’t want a cracker appliquéd with a whimsical Alice in Wonderland character? Each cracker contains a paper crown, joke and a miniature trinket, including a measuring tape keyring, combination lock, paper clip, shoe horn, rectangular key chain and picture holder.
14. Honeycomb Ball Christmas crackers, set of six, £55 from The Conran Shop.
Conran’s designers have clearly gone somewhere over the rainbow this year, with a spectrum of honeycomb baubles with matching ribbons. Each cracker contains a hat, motto, fortune teller fish and origami kit. Look out for the Christmas cranes.
15. Pom Pom Christmas crackers, set of six, £55 from The Conran Shop.
Conran calls these crackers a ‘quirky design’, but don’t let that put you off. Especially if you, like me, dig multi-coloured pom-poms, kraft paper and vintage-style matchbox puzzles. Further fascinating features include a hat, motto, and fortune teller fish.
16. Nepalese lokta paper Christmas crackers, set of six, £39 from Toast.
You can trust UK lifestyle brand Toast to bring a dash of bohemian sophistication to your dining table with Nepalese lokta paper crackers that have been hand block-printed by women in the Kathmandu Valleys of Nepal. Each cracker contains a riddle, a hat and gifts including a pepper spoon, glass tree decoration, garden string, mini beeswax candle, colouring pencils, and jasmine tea bomb.
17. Contemporary Christmas crackers, set of six, $49.99 (or $20 with any purchase over $40) from Dusk.
$20 for a set of shiny crackers from Australian candle brand Dusk crackers is reasonable value, but I wouldn’t go shelling out $50 a pop. The wind-up snowman racing game is a fun feature of these crackers, each containing a snap, joke, party hat and wind up racer.
18. Harrods of London Luxury Christmas Crackers, set of six, £99.95, from Harrods.
Velvet bows, gleaming gold paper and non-plastic gifts ensure Harrod’s luxury crackers live up to their name. Not sure if they’re deserving of the breath-taking £99.99 price tag, with each cracker containing a paper hat, joke and gift such as a lipstick holder, wine-bottle stopper, compact mirror, letter opener, money clip and ballpoint pen.
19. Fuschia Luxury Christmas Crackers, set of six £49, from Designers Guild.
Designers Guild prints Delahaye Magenta and Issoria Rose adorn this pretty set of crackers, with each cracker containing a paper party hat, joke card and a gift such as leather luggage tag, leather keyring, suede bookmark, pencil eraser in a leather case, mini suede notebook or small suede pouch.
20. Ruskin House Ditsy Berry Crackers, set of 12, £20 from John Lewis.
Excellent value from John Lewis with a pretty print and gifts including mini photo frame, magic trick, and screwdriver set.
21. Colourful Marbled Crackers, set of six, £40 from Katie Leamon.
Marbled paper makes for beautiful crackers, as demonstrated by this fine set by London stationery designer Katie Leamon. Each cracker contains a gold or silver paper hat, joke, and some very nice gifts such as garden twine, plant markers, colouring pencils, seed scoop, seed dibber and bumble bee soap.
22. Prudence Caroline Deluxe Christmas Crackers, set of six, $70 from Peter’s of Kensington.
Australians all let us rejoice for this super-lovely set of crackers designed in Oz, adorned with illustrations from Aussie children’s classic The Magic Pudding. Each cracker contains a hat, joke or motto, and an especially lovely gift, such as Etat Libre d’Orange’s Hermann a Mes Cotes perfume, Mor hand creams, a fragrance diffuser and faux pearl earring studs.
23. Luxury Crackers Brussels Sprouts, set of six, £34.95 from Annabel James.
After a cracking dose of British humour? You can’t get more British than Brussels Sprouts for Christmas dinner. These crackers contain a gold foil paper hat, joke, and a gift including marbles, pencil set, die, mini whisk, cookie cutter and an egg cup.
24. Confetti rocket crackers, set of six, $29.50 from Selfridges.
Be an early adopter – or not – over Christmas dinner, with these rocket-shaped crackers. Each cracker contains confetti, hat, fortune and moustache. Expect a raised eyebrow from traditionalists ( like me).
25. Talking Tables Ho Ho Ho Magic Crackers, set of six, £12 from Jarrold.
Not bad value for a set of magic-trick crackers, bringing table-top entertainment to your Christmas festivities. Each cracker contains a magic trick, entertainment scroll, joke, tongue twister, trivia question and paper hat.
Best value cracker (UK): Joyeux Noel Santa Illustration Christmas Crackers, set of 12, £15 from Marks and Spencer.
Best value cracker (Australia): Kmart Premium Crackers, set of six, $10 from Kmart -in-store only. (Not featured above.)
Best design cracker: Fuschia Luxury Christmas Crackers, set of six £49, from Designers Guild.
Best charity cracker: RSPB Racing robins crackers, set of six, £12.99 from RSPB.
Best kids’ cracker: Sunnylife Party pullers(crackers) fruit salad, set of six, $49.95 from Little Paper Lane.