Snap, bang! It’s not Christmas dinner without pulling on a cracker. The brilliantly bad jokes, the trinkets and tat, the paper hats… you know you love it.

There exists, online, a Christmas crackers for everyone, from the traditionalist and to the modern trendsetter; the joker to the eco-warriors; the crafty-type to, of course, little people. You just need to find the one for you. Are you looking for musical crackers? Ones to build yourself? Ethical, glitter-free crackers, or those filled with alcohol? This year, sustainability is at the forefront of many retailers’ agendas, as they seek to fill the Christmas lunch staples with less plastic and more meaningful trinkets. Whether you’re feeling nostalgic or want to start a new family tradition, allow us to help you find a Christmas cracker to suit your festive table with our round-up of eight sites doing a cracking job.

John Lewis


Hats off to John Lewis and Waitrose who, as of next year, are to stop selling Christmas crackers containing plastic toys and puzzles in a bid to reduce single-use plastics. In 2020, as they try to phase out the tat, their crackers will be filled with toys and other trinkets made from recyclable materials. The cardboard wrappers will be embossed rather than decorated with plastic glitter. This year, its most popular cracker design are the ‘fill-your-own’ variety; one in every three packets sold is a DIY set. Time to unleash your inner Kirstie Allsopp.

Fortnums


In the market for properly plush crackers? Budget allowing, you could opt for the extremely fancy Midas Touch Crackers, which cost (ahem) £5,000 for a hamper of six. Each cracker contains a golden envelope whose contents entitle the winner to an extravagant gift and a Fortnum’s experience. More humble, and yet still luxurious, are its charming Nutcracker Crackers, which contain jolly magic tricks and cost £45 for a box of six.

Nkuku


No need to sacrifice aesthetics on your festive table just because you have the environment at the forefront of your mind. Look to Nkuku for tastefully rustic Christmas crackers that are truly special. These ethical crackers are printed with vegetable-based inks and packaged in recycled paper cardboard. Pull one open to discover a brass key ring, snail paperweight, Basanti brass deer or stag bottle-stopper – all treasures that will last beyond Boxing Day.

Not On The High Street


However hard to please you may be, and whatever Christmas cracker you are looking for, you will find it – and plenty more – on the Not On the High Street site. There are over 200 Christmas cracker boxes, from the curious (pop a balloon cracker anyone?) and animal-friendly (cracker for your dog?) to the personalised and the ethical (plenty of recycled ones). We have our eye on the leopard-print Raisthorpe Tipple Crackers and the Exotic Jam and Marmalade ones.

Drinks in Tube


There is nothing new about alcohol-filled crackers, as more and more distilleries get in on the act. The Drinks in Tube crackers look pretty and, unlike rival competitors, lack exterior branding, which means the boozy content is a surprise. Each cracker contains a 5cl canister of either gin or vodka from French distiller, DNA. While the jokes are typically cheesy and the hats are awfully flimsy, the elegant bottles are top-notch.

Paperchase


You want your guests to remember Christmas at your home for all the right reasons. Guaranteed to wow family and friends, Paperchase Christmas decorations are uniquely charming, and a little bit ‘out there’. You may think of Paperchase as a stationery site, but these days it sells every fancy festive decoration under the sun. Want a rainbow artificial Christmas tree? Or a glass hammerhead shark Christmas tree decoration? Look no further for weird and wonderful Christmas crackers and baubles.

Marks & Spencer


The war on plastic has sent M&S sparkle-free this Christmas. The high street stalwart has removed glitter from its entire Christmas celebration range of cards, crackers, calendars and wrapping paper. Nevertheless, don’t be fooled into thinking that this year’s M&S Christmas crackers are dull. There are 12 boxes to choose from; we particularly like the cheery musical crackers, each containing a coloured bell, music sheet, hat and joke. Jingle, jingle.

Meri Meri


Looking for final touches to your table? Nobody curates seasonal tableware and decorations like Meri Meri, our go-to site for cute and kitsch party planning. Every year, Meri Meri launches the coolest Christmas collection and 2019 is no exception. Its delightfully bucolic crackers are decorated with sequins, candy cane fringes, elves, nutcrackers, rainbow snowmen, angels, sausage dogs, glittery unicorns, swans and white reindeer. Meri Meri thrills all ages.

Selfridges


Pull the crackers, pop on your hat, blow a whistle and make a tune. Hey presto, you have your very own family band. Ridley’s Musical Party Christmas Crackers are just one of the playful sets for sale on the Selfridges’ website. Ridley’s has long established itself as the fun dad of Christmas crackers; they come filled with props to get a game started, whether it’s balloon modelling, playing charades, doing magic tricks or a festive quiz. There’ll be tidings of joy.

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By Annabel Jack

December 2019