Are you looking for a bumper box of classic crackers? Or are you after something stylish this festive season? We've got the lot right here
Christmas dinner wouldn’t be the same without a Christmas cracker to pull. But gone are the days when you’d inevitably come away with a throw-away thimble or plastic comb. Today’s crackers are as varied as advent calendars, with contents ranging from seasonal liqueurs to musical games and treats. You can still usually count on getting the touch-it-and-it-rips paper crown and terrible dad-joke as well, but that’s all part of the festive fun.
For many, this year will be the first full-family Christmas in two years, so there’s never been a better time to pull out all the stops. With that in mind, we’ve begun the hunt for the best Christmas crackers, in the hopes of taking some of the hassles out of your festive season. From personalised crackers to musical crackers, we’ve picked out a selection of the best for every table. However, if you’re not sure where to start you can take a look at our handy buying guide for some pointers.
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How to choose the best Christmas crackers for you
How much do you need to spend?
You can pay as much or as little, as you wish. Poundland sells boxes of Christmas crackers for pocket-money prices; at the other end of the scale, luxury company VeryFirstTo launched a Christmas cracker set back in 2014 that cost a whopping £4 million and contained prizes such as a Cartier necklace, keys to an Aston Martin and the key fob to a yacht. Needless to say, there were no jokes inside.
Can I get crackers themed towards my guests’ interests?
You certainly can. If you’re not into the likes of tape measures and dice as prizes, you can get crackers with gifts based on a variety of themes, including booze, beauty, chocolate and musical games.
Can I get crackers to match my Christmas colour scheme?
Absolutely – with a bit of shopping around there’s pretty much no colour or design you won’t be able to find, to complement your table dressing and make a bold festive statement. If you’re after an unusual look, however, you might need to compromise on the contents, so decide which is more important to you.
What else should I look out for?
Check the size of your crackers before you part with your dosh, particularly if you’re buying online: it’s easy to think you’ve found the bargain of the century, only to discover you’ve ordered a box of weedy mini-crackers. Check how many crackers are in the box too, and take into account whether you might want to have crackers at more than one meal.
If you want a more luxurious look, go for a thicker card – but if you’re opting for luxury, don’t forget the kids, as they may not be delighted with upmarket prizes like hand mirrors or champagne truffles.
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The best Christmas crackers to buy
1. Kuckoo Crackers Guess That Tune: Best unusual Christmas crackers
Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon
Kuckoo Crackers does a great selection of slightly unusual Christmas crackers, but this particular pack of six steals the show. Inside each cracker, you’ll find a kazoo and game instructions, alongside the standard party hat and terrible joke. Using the inspiration provided, you’ll need to play a familiar tune on your kazoo, while your friends/family guess at the song. As alternatives to the usual boring plastic gifts go, this one is up there among our favourites, and it helps a great deal that the crackers themselves are tasteful to look at.
If this particular set doesn’t catch your eye, however, Kuckoo Crackers also does an arts and crafts set containing all you need to make felt tree decorations. Admittedly these make for a quieter event than racing, but they’re ideal for keeping the kids quiet after a long day of excitement.
Key details – Quantity: 6; Price per cracker: £3
2. Hotel Chocolat Rather Large Cracker: Best ENORMOUS Christmas cracker
Price: £36 | Buy now from Hotel Chocolat
Not enough space on the table for individual crackers? Here’s the perfect solution – one massive cracker for the whole family to enjoy. Containing 40 decadent chocolates plus 12 good-quality hats and jokes, it makes for a fun, alternative centrepiece. Flavours include billionaire’s shortbread, caramel praline, champagne truffles and (for the kids) snowman and reindeer-shaped chocolates, all of them made to Hotel Chocolat’s usual high standards. It arrives exceptionally well-packaged, so nothing gets damaged, and it makes a nice gift too.
Key details – Quantity: One; Price per cracker: £36
3. Hallmark Luxury Crackers: Best classic Christmas crackers
Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon
If it’s tradition you’re after, this Hallmark pack of six crackers is perfect. Coming in at £2 per cracker, this pack is far from horrendous value for money, and it scores bonus points by being 100% recyclable. Inside, you’ll find the usual suspects: a hat, a joke/fact/game idea and a novelty non-plastic item (in this case, stuff like a padlock, a can opener and a metal rule). Looks-wise, we reckon they nail the basics in a contemporary manner without coming across overly tacky.
Key details – Quantity: 6; Price per cracker: £2
4. Wrendale Designs Christmas Crackers: Best elegant Christmas crackers
Price: £21 | Buy now from Amazon
Award-winning stationery designer Wrendale Designs has a bit of a thing for Christmas crackers. There are three packs on offer, and we love them all, but this particular set best represents what Wrendale is all about: gorgeously detailed natural designs from artist Hannah Wren. Apart from being exquisite to look at, these crackers are made using the upmarket stuff; a textured board for the cracker exterior with grosgrain fabric ribbons at the cinctured parts. The luxuriousness extends to the interior as well: pull the cracker and you’ll find an adorable glass magnet depicting another of Hannah Wren’s designs, alongside a joke and a hat. Why not have a stylish Christmas this year?
Key details – Quantity: 6; Price per cracker: £3.33
5. Royle Make Your Own Christmas Crackers: Best fill-your-own Christmas crackers
Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’re tired of the same old tacky cracker fillings, these crackers are intentionally left deconstructed so you can fill them with just about anything you fancy. This makes them perfect for Christmassy dinner parties, and you can even choose between three festive designs to match the rest of your decorations. Our favourite is this subtle red and white snowflake pattern, though you may prefer to have a festive snowman or an elf on your cracker. We recommend filling the crackers with a selection of brain teasers, chocolates, or maybe some buildable spaceships for the kids. The set also comes with name tags, so you’ll be able to fill each cracker with an age-appropriate, personal gift without mixing them up.
Key details – Quantity: 12; Price per cracker: £1
6. Robin Reed Concerto Musical crackers: The best musical Christmas crackers
Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon
Nothing lifts Christmas spirits quite like the sweet sound of Christmas music and with these crackers, you can kill two festive birds with one stone. Each cracker in this set comes filled with a numbered whistle that plays a musical note; all you have to do is assign an all-powerful conductor to read the music and point at the correct person to play their note at the right time. The set comes with a variety of songs to play, but the degree of success with which you perform them depends on both your coordination skills and your levels of merriness. But if you fancy testing your dinner guests’ coordination skills to produce some questionable music, these crackers will certainly provide you with some jovial fun while your food goes down.
Key details – Quantity: 8; Price per cracker: £1.38