Best of British

November 24, 2012

The 20 best Christmas Crackers for 2012

Tatty Devine Christmas Crackers via WeeBirdy.com

If you’re not already starting to feel just a wee bit festive, now’s the time to don a paper crown, blow a plastic whistle and read a bad Dad joke, because it’s time for Wee Birdy’s annual Christmas Cracker Awards!

Since 2007, every November I spend weeks scrutinizing hundreds of brightly wrapped specimens to make my final edit of the top 20 crackers. Here we go…

Tatty Devine Christmas crackers via WeeBirdy.com

1. THE AWESOME DIY JEWELLERY CRACKERS
Tatty Devine Deluxe Christmas Crackers, (also pictured at top), £75 for a set of six from Tatty Devine.
Hand-crafted in England, each cracker features a different perspex shape as the decoration, and contains chains, jump rings and instructions to make the shape into an awesome necklace, along with a party hat and a joke. The collection includes jewellery-making pliers to share and jewellery boxes.

Liberty print crackers via WeeBirdy.com
2. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LIBERTY PRINT CRACKERS
Liberty Superior crackers, £45 for a set of six from Liberty.
Made in the UK, each Liberty print cracker contains gifts such as a compact, compass and pen.

Pedlars Christmas Crackers via WeeBirdy.com
3. THE NEON CRACKERS
Great British Crackers, £45 for a set of six from Pedlars.
Hand-crafted in Wales, each cracker contains a motto, joke, paper hat and a cool gift.

Emma Bridgewater Crackers via WeeBirdy.com

4. THE TRADITIONALLY FESTIVE CRACKERS

Red Joy Crackers, £12.95 for a set of six from Emma Bridgewater.
Each cracker contains a hat, motto and a gift such as coloured pencils, mini make up brush set, mini sewing kit, mini stapler, mini nail clippers and mini tool kit.
Maison Martin Margiela crackers via WeeBirdy.com

5. THE DESIGNER SCENT CRACKERS
Maison Martin Margiela Christmas cracker gift set, £40 for a set of six from Selfridges.
Each cracker, wrapped in limited edition Maison Martin Margiela newsprint contains a 7ml bottle of Maison Martin Margiela’s Untitled fragrance, which includes notes of galbanum, lentiscus, orange blossom and incense.

Conran shop Gold Glitter crackers via WeeBirdy.com
6. THE POSH BRITISH CHOCOLATES CRACKER
Conran Christmas Crackers in Gold Glitter, £65 for a pack of six from The Conran Shop.
Each cracker contains a hat, motto and a Rococo chocolate truffle box.

Present and Correct's Christms Cracker via WeeBirdy.com

Present and Correct crackers via WeeBirdy.com

7. THE STATIONERY-NERD CRACKERS
Present & Correct Christmas crackers, US$18 for one cracker from Present & Correct’s Etsy shop.
Handmade by “some nice ladies in Dorset”, each cracker contains a 2013 tag book calendar, a rubber stamp, a christmas pencil & vintage eraser, two metres of airmail string, an old paper clamp & a scrabble magnet, a lucky chocolate sixpence, some confetti and labels.

Fortnum and Mason King of Crackers via WeeBirdy.com
Fortnum and Mason King of Crackers via WeeBirdy.com

Fortnum and Mason King of Crackers contents via WeeBirdy.com8. THE EXTREMELY POSH CRACKERS
The King of Crackers, £500 for a set of six from Fortnum & Mason.
Each cracker, covered in red velvet and decorated with ribbons, tassels and a glittering crown, contains a paper hat, joke and a luxurious high quality leather gift, such as a keyring, luggage tag, purse or credit card holder.

Ben Pentreath Crackers via WeeBirdy.com
9. THE STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL CRACKERS
BPL Christmas Crackers, £40 for a set of six from Ben Pentreath Ltd.
“Lovingly handmade in Dorset”, each cracker is covered in Judd St Papers and contains a hat, snap, joke and a really lovely gift, such as a wooden nail brush, wooden dice, cookie cutter, marbles, strawberry seeds or a set of pencils. You can also choose from the Pollock’s Zeotrope Strips design; Pollock’s Pantomine Characters design; or the Margaret Calkin James design.

Fortnum and Mason Famous for Tea cracker via WeeBirdy.com
10. THE FINE TEA CRACKERS
Famous for Tea Christmas Crackers, £100 for a set of six from Fortnum and Mason.
Each cracker contains a silver-plated F&M caddy spoon and a tin of one of Fortnum’s classic loose-leaf teas, such as Earl Grey Classic or Queen Anne Blend.

MiniEco DIY Crackers via WeeBirdy.com
11. THE DIY CRACKERS
In this charming tutorial, craft blogger Mini Eco shows you how to make your own graphically simple crackers. The beauty of DIY crackers is that you can fill them with your own choice of present, as well as a hand-made hat, which can be rather fun.

Liberty London crackers via WeeBirdy.com
12. THE JUBILEE CRACKERS
London Superior Crackers, £45 for a set of six from Liberty.
Made in the UK, each cracker contains gifts such as a compass, pen and screwdriver set.

Choco Crackers Harvey Nichols via WeeBirdy.com
13. THE BELGIAN CHOCOLATE CRACKERS
Choc on Choc Chocolate Crackers, £15.95 for a set of six from Harvey Nichols.
Each cracker includes a paper hat, joke and filled with Belgian chocolate.

Harrods Romanov crackers via WeeBirdy.com
14. THE ‘YOU’D BE CRACKERS TO SPEND ALMOST 600 QUID ON CRACKERS’ CRACKERS
Harrods Romanov Luxury Christmas Crackers, £599 for a set of six from Harrods.
Each individually handcrafted cracker contains handmade bespoke crown, joke and trivia booklet and superb individually-wrapped gift. Gifts include a Stag corkscrew and bottle opener, crystal-encrusted Cloisonne box, Italian-made leather card case, Crown Monde earrings, leather USB and chrome pen and silk scarf and crystal scarf pin.

Peppermint Cracker from Harrods via WeeBirdy.comPeppermint Musical Crackers via WeeBirdy.com15. THE MUSICAL CRACKERS
Harrods Peppermint Cracker Collection, £39.95 for a set of nine from Harrods.
Each hand-crafted cracker contains a crown, joke, trivia booklet and a different xylophone key so that they can be played together as a kind of impromptu family orchestra. The collection includes a conductor’s baton and musical scores.

Flights of Fancy Crackers via WeeBirdy.com

Flights of Festive Fancy Crackers via WeeBirdy.com16. THE PAPER PLANE CRACKERS
Flights Of Festive Fancy Crackers, £8 for a set of six from John Lewis.
Each cracker contains a hat, snap and a make your own paper aeroplane game.
Asprey Christmas cracker designed by Philip Treacy via WeeBirdy.com
Asprey Christmas cracker designed by Philip Treacy via WeeBirdy.com
17. THE DESIGNER PARTY HAT CRACKER
Philip Treacy for Asprey Christmas Cracker, $2,000 for one from Asprey.
This limited edition cracker contains a party hat designed by Philip Treacy, confetti, joke and a collector’s sterling silver thimble engraved with Philip Treacy’s signature. One of the eighty crackers contains a winning ticket for a bespoke Philip Treacy hat.

RSPB Bird cracker via WeeBirdy.com
18. THE ‘SAVE THE BIRDIES’ CRACKERS
RSPB Bird crackers, £12.99 from the RSPB.
Each red and gold bird-designed cracker contains an individually-wrapped organic Fairtrade Coco chocolate bird, a bird fact, a joke and a hat.

Meri Meri Nutrcracker Crackers via WeeBirdy.com
19. THE NUTCRACKER CRACKERS
Meri Meri Nutcracker Tale Crackers, £18.50 for a set of eight, from John Lewis.
Each cracker contains a musical whistle, a hat and a joke.

RSPB Magic crackers via WeeBirdy.com

20. THE MAGIC CRACKERS
Magical crackers, £9.99 for a set of eight from the RSPB.
Each cracker contains a magic track, a joke and a hat.

So there you go, my Christmas Cracker round-up for 2012. Which one is your favourite?


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November 2, 2012

Frock on Friday: Poppy


I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a really gorgeous little frock for a three-year-old and wished there was a version in my size. And apparently I’m not alone. It was only last week at my local childrenswear shop that I discovered that the lovely tiny wee toddler’s frock in the gorgeous tropical print had also been the object of many a grown woman’s affection. And – hurrah! – word had got around that Zimmermann had a dress in the exact same print. For (much) bigger girls.

So I’m delighted to hear that UK childrenswear designers Poppy Children have responded to popular demand for adult versions of their delightful vintage-inspired kids frocks with the launch of their first womenswear collection. Featuring Poppy’s trademark storybook illustrations, the collection is inspired by a 1950s aesthetic and is available in a range of prints, styles and sizes (10-18).

Naturally, I adore their new London print, which also features on a range of frocks for little girls. Each dress comes with its own story book about Poppy and Fred’s adventures in London. I love that the vintage-inspired design features a thoroughly modern London, complete with the Gherkin, London Eye and a wandering giraffe. The collection is made in the UK and is one hundred per-cent cotton.

My favourite style is the Beatrice dress, which is superbly flattering with three-quarter length sleeves, a wide bateau neckline at the front and a V at the back, which can be worn either way and is available in five colour ways, for £129.99. Ladies can also purchase a matching petticoat for extra swoosh factor, as well as a pair of stripey cotton tights for winter.

The London print is also available on the Millie dress for girls, which features a Peter Pan collar and looks ridiculously adorable with a matching little cardigan. It would make a super-sweet London-themed bridesmaid’s frock, and it comes in sizes 0 to seven years for £62.50. There is also a range of matching fluffy petticoats and darling stripey tights for little ones.

www.poppychildren.co.uk


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October 8, 2012

A week of tea: Maureen Valfort screenprints

Welcome to a Week of Tea on Wee Birdy!

It’s been quite a long time since I last ran a themed week devoted entirely to tea, so I hope you enjoy it. Maybe you’d like to join in on your own blog?

This week I will be blogging about the best teapots, tea gifts and tea party essentials, my favourite afternoon tea spots as well as the morning tea I recently hosted for some friends.

I love this series of  limited-edition screenprints (above) by London artist Maureen Valfort. Depicting sweet tea-time scenes with a charming retro aesthetic, each tea-themed print is hand-printed on Somerset paper and has four torn edges. They make extremely affordable art for your walls at £35 each, but you could also make a statement ‘tea’ wall with all four prints.

Clockwise from top left: ‘Laura‘, ‘Astrid‘, ‘Ellie‘, and ‘Anna’, £35 each from A Little Bit of Art.

Do you love tea? Let me know if you’re going to join in with ‘A week of tea’ on your blog!


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August 12, 2012

Birdy pick of the week: Luke Stephenson

It’s the last day of the London 2012 Olympics so my blanket British coverage on Wee Birdy is drawing to an end. I couldn’t think of a better ‘Birdy of the Week’ than British artist Luke Stephenson‘s series of show bird portraits. Obsessed with Britishness and the “eccentricty of Britain”, Luke’s series of birds attempts to capture the slightly bonkers world of British hobbyists, while also demonstrating a sensitivity to the individual beauty and personality of his subject matter. He’s the British show bird world’s answer to Martin Parr, and the series, titled ‘The Incomplete Dictionary of Show Birds‘, is an ongoing project, with the idea that it will one day be ‘complete’. New installments of photographs will be released every few years. You can purchase limited edition prints of Luke’s work from The Photographers Gallery in London.

The Photographers’ Gallery
16-18 Ramillies Street
London W1F 7LW
Tel. 020 7087 9300
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm
Thursday 10am-8pm
Sunday 11.30am-8pm

Click here for more Best of British picks.


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August 10, 2012

Wee Olympic finds: The top 30 non-crap London souvenirs

I’ve been obsessed with London souvenirs for as long as I can remember. From the spectacularly crap to the artfully awesome, there is something about a flash of Routemaster Red that makes my inner magpie sing. Over the last few months I’ve brought you the top 10 London souvenir mugs; the 25 best London Olympic Games souvenirs; the best non-tat Jubilee souvenirs; and had a Union Jack love attack.

And now, with the London 2012 Olympic Games drawing to a close this weekend, I present my top 30 non-crap London souvenirs.* But really, can you blame me?

* It’s actually 31 non-crap London souvenirs, with Charlotte Olympia’s magnificent perspex clutch pictured at the top. It’s sold-out on Net-a-Porter, but her London 2012 Union Jack clutch is still up for grabs!

What’s your favourite London souvenir?


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August 8, 2012

Best of British: Patternity

Legendary British fashion editor Hilary Alexander once described London’s state of style as “fantastic coloured tights, fancy legs, colour, print and pattern… London is free.” (You can watch the video here – you might also spot a certain Wee Birdy giving her perspective on London style at the beginning of the video.) Fast forward to Spring/Summer 2012 and Hilary’s still on the money about London’s penchance for “fancy legs”, with London creative consultancy Patternity‘s limited edition collection of hand-printed tights. The brainchild of East London duo Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham, Patternity creates tights that are more pieces of art than ladder-resistant nylon accessories for your legs.

Patternity’s understanding and masterful manipulation of pattern has caught the attention of the likes of Céline, Central Saint Martins and the BBC, and they have recently collaborated with The Barbican to create a limited edition collection of tights inspired by the Bauhaus exhibition. Inspired by the Bauhaus aesthetic of bold geometric shapes, the ‘Totem’ tights have been hand screen-printed in three primary colours associated with the movement. £48, patternity.co.uk.

p.s. If you haven’t seen the Bauhaus exhibition at the Barbican, this is your last chance – it closes on 12 August.


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