Christmas crackers have always played a big part in the seasonal celebrations adding a stylish touch of festive fun to our Christmas trees and table decorations. We’ve been enjoying them since 1847 when Tom Smith’s crackling log fire inspired him to add that all-important snap to his paper-wrapped sweets. Although the basic, simple design is virtually unchanged, there are plenty of new twists for us to discover in this year’s batch of crackers.
When choosing the best Christmas crackers UK, we’re initially looking for an impressive exterior. The term luxury usually refers to the quality of the paper and the decorative ribbons and trimmings rather than what’s inside. The contents of all of them are often fairly uniform concentrating upon a small trinket, toy or puzzle, a paper hat and old music-hall jokes. Even though we seem to know what to expect, it doesn’t appear to diminish the excitement or the suspense regardless of how old we are.
However, my selection of some of the best Xmas crackers for this year includes several offerings with features that are guaranteed to prolong the fun. This is something to bear in mind when shopping for the best Christmas crackers for kids. Crackers aren’t usually suitable for children under three years of age due to the small parts involved but they can join in the fun with those that are empty. There are many contemporary and traditional designs in paper, card or shiny foils in a range of colours for us to choose from. Some crackers are often based on a theme such as the ballet or fairground but they will still harmonise with your existing Christmas decorations.
Other features include versatile ‘fill your own’ crackers that are empty until you add your own trinkets. And of course, the best Xmas crackers are those with snaps that won’t fail at the crucial moment. So let’s take a closer look at what’s special for 2019.
The first we’ll look at are these beautifully large crackers from Toyland in a festive fiery red and glistening gold combination. They are decorated with opposite coloured foil effect stars and snowflakes for an understated air of sophistication. Made of a sturdy card that will keep its shape until the big day, these impressive crackers will help to create the perfect Christmas atmosphere round the dinner table or beneath the tree. The contents might be the fairly typical assortment of novelties complete with a paper hat and printed joke but they look and feel luxurious. Available as a generous pack of ten, they even scored full marks when snapped.Check Price Now
These six crackers dressed as tin soldiers inspired by the Nutcracker ballet looked so elegant with their Napoleonic uniforms and neatly trimmed moustaches that I actually felt a little guilty snapping them in two. As you’d expect, they popped with a perfect military precision every time. Caspari’s high-quality paper is sourced from ecologically managed forests and the quality of the printing gives the crackers an expensive look that is hard to beat. The ribbon tied ends add a thoughtful touch of design. The selection of gifts is better than usual with practical items including a mini tape measure, stapler, mirror and a set of tiny playing cards. To complete the regal image, the lucky winner will find a golden foil-lined paper crown to wear. If you’re not keen on a military theme, the crackers are available in other designs such as a traditional Scandinavian Santa Claus or Scoth tartan.Check Price Now
Glitter Racing Reindeer Crackers
Robin Reed have ensured the Christmas fun lasts beyond the pull and snap with this amusing set of crackers. Inside each of the six red and white reindeer decorated crackers is a miniature wind-up Rudolph that’s ready to race along with his friends. There is a folded race track included in the box. To be honest, I haven’t laughed so much in ages as the little reindeers spun round and strayed as they made their haphazard way along the course. This is a great choice for keeping kids of all ages amused especially if they unaware of the racing reindeer to start with.
With a fairground pavilion theme and decorated with candy striped ends and elegant carousel ponies, these aren’t overly festive and could even be used for other occasions such as birthdays at any time of the year. In addition to the paper hat and motto, they each contain a 30ml sachet of either a luxury bath lotion or moisturising cream in fairground inspired fragrances of popcorn, toffee apple and candy. Smaller than many crackers, they are 20cm/8″ in length but make a relatively good snap when pulled. With just three crackers in the set they can be divided up to make perfect novelty stocking fillers.Check Price Now
Returning once again to the Nutcracker ballet theme, we find this set of six large 12″ crackers. They look elegantly refined with gold foil trimmed ends and a white centre barrel decorated with an army of tiny toy soldiers in early 19th Century uniforms. The luxurious appearance is enhanced by the red and green ribbons tied around the ends. Mine snapped well enough to reveal the customary paper hat and printed joke. However, instead of a plastic novelty each of the crackers contains a beautifully made hand-painted wooden Christmas tree decoration that can be used for years to come.Check Price Now
Many of us jokingly grumble at the novelties that crackers usually contain but this set provides the perfect solution. Each of the eight ready made crackers opens easily at the ends to allow you the fun of hiding your own idea of a gift inside it. There’s even a metallic name tag to ensure it goes to the right person. 30cm in length, the central cavity is around 10cm with a diameter of 5.5cm. When I tested one out it seemed roomy enough to place real small gifts of jewellery, tie-pins, chocolates or small toys to accompany the included paper hat and joke. These crackers are so stunningly stylish I’d have to award them more than a ten out of ten for design. Midnight blue and creamy silver foil embellished with graceful reindeers and snowflakes are guaranteed to make your dinner table look fantastically luxurious.Check Price Now
Christmas is a time for tuneful melodies especially when we can join in. This set of musically themed crackers are handmade using high-quality paper in white and decorated with music scores in an elegant silver foil relief. One of the larger styles, they certainly look impressive and have been designed to provide us with further excitement. Hidden inside each is a chime bar that produces a note when struck with the accompanying stick. Numbered badges for us to wear are included in the box along with a conductor’s baton and a sheet of music that participants follow to create their own interpretation of a Christmas tune. Although I tend to be a bit tone deaf, I could still identify that a couple of the bars were flat but the pack is designed for everyone to have fun rather than produce realistic musical renditions.Check Price Now
Handbell Musical Crackers
You can never have too much of a good idea so here’s another music themed exercise for us to enjoy along with the opportunity to find out how accurately the handbells are tuned compared to the previous chime bars. Each of the eight crackers contains a small handbell plus the usual paper hat. The format is similar with all of us needing to wear numbered badges to help us ring the bells in the right sequence to correspond with the included music score. After ringing the handbells, two of which tinkled with the same note and another that was decidedly mistuned, I think they performed about the same. Although there is a great deal of fun to be had, I felt it was sometimes a little frustrating trying to get everybody coordinated properly. The crackers themselves are impressively large in bold blue, silver and red foil.
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without some holly and these crackers have plenty of it. The six crackers are 10″ in length and with painted illustrations of dark green holly with bright red berries they will add a lovely modern yet traditional look to your decorations and will even coordinate with other paper tableware in the Talking Tables range. The crackers are made of high-quality stiffened white paper and the ends are tied with contrasting red ribbons for a truly festive look. The crackers snapped well and included a variety of interesting metal puzzles, paper hats and entertaining jokes.Check Price Now
One of the most traditional ways of dressing a Christmas tree is with small crackers but they can often be difficult to find. However, these mini elf crackers are just perfect. The set contains eight crackers with identical red and green Christmas elves in a cute design that is obviously meant for children. They are made of good quality thin cardboard and measure just 13cm/5″ with a narrow diameter which makes them perfect for small hands to hold although they are not meant for children under three. Other little ones need to be supervised as apart from the paper hat, they each contain a small silver charm which can be hung on the tree and can be reused next year.Check Price Now
The range of Christmas crackers we have tested in this selection is one of the most imaginative I have come across for years. Virtually all of them snapped well with just the odd exception causing a minor disappointment. One of the best Christmas crackers for kids in my own view, has to be the Glitter Racing Reindeer. The crackers looked festive and the wayward wind-up reindeers provided plenty of merriment as they raced towards the finishing post. I have to admit a special admiration for the elegance and sophistication of the Snowy Forest at Midnight which has turned out to be one of my personal favourites. I think many of the crackers are worthy of praise especially Caspari’s Nutcrackers and the traditional holly design of the Botanical Crackers. However, for making that big festive statement, I think one of the best Xmas crackers is the Deluxe Red And Gold from Toyland which successfully combines size and luxurious style.