No festive table setting is complete without a Christmas cracker but dinner party guests rarely appreciate the plastic whistle, ruler or throwaway corny joke found inside.
But thankfully there are crackers that will not only add a bang to your festivities but will also provide something much more enjoyable than the usual cheap trinkets included.
Since Britons can only see two other households this Christmas for five days due to the pandemic, hosts looking for something extra special might want to plump for one of these luxurious and fun alternatives.
From gin to miniature games, FEMAIL have put eight luxury Christmas crackers to the test – with Franklin & Sons Gin and Tonic Christmas Crackers proving to be the best, costing £35 for six.
Drinks By Post Christmas Crackers, which cost an eye-watering £100 for six, also impressed with features of a personalised name in hand-written calligraphy, as well as an acorn to grow your own tree.
Franklin & Sons Gin and Tonic Christmas Crackers
Adding a little elegance to your festive table, these Franklin & Sons’ crackers feature red and green decorations sketched onto a white package (pictured)
The best luxury Christmas crackers
Franklin & Sons Gin and Tonic Christmas Crackers – 5/5
Lakeland Snowman Bowling Crackers – 5/5
Drinks By Post Christmas Cracker – 5/5
Boë Gin Selection Party Crackers – 4/5
Forever Crackers – 4/5
Advent of Change Charity Christmas Crackers 4/5
Tesco Luxury Crackers – 3/5
ManoMano’s Christmas Crackers Exquisite Collection Box – 3/5
Cost: £35 (six pack)
Adding a little elegance to your festive table, these Franklin & Sons’ crackers feature red and green decorations sketched onto a white package.
They include a curated collection of six paired gin and tonics and include the mandatory party hat.
Bridie said: ‘These look amazing in the box and would look gorgeous in any festive tablescape.
‘The simple tree and bauble pattern looks so classy and the cardboard is thick and feels expensive. I really like that they’re square and not round, it gives it a nice feel.
‘I love that it gives you a gin and a little bottle of tonic inside, which could be great for the post-Christmas meal tipple.
‘It’s got a nice mix of London dry and flavour infusions, so I can definitely see myself swapping with my siblings to try and get my favourite.
‘These aren’t kid friendly, for obvious reasons, so might be better suited to a festive dinner party (in non pandemic times) rather than a Christmas day, but overall a wonderful feel.
‘The only downside I’d say is there’s no joke inside, and I love a cheesy Dad joke at Christmas!’
Lakeland Snowman Bowling Crackers
This Lakeland festive pack (pictured) contains six festive crackers that create a bowling game for the family to play
Cost: £19.99 (six pack)
This Lakeland festive pack contains six festive crackers that create a bowling game for the family to play.
Each cracker contains a snowman bowling pin and the product also includes a bowling alley board and a pudding-shaped ball.
Jessica said: ‘The best type of Christmas crackers are the ones that get people talking, laughing or interacting with one another in some way – and these Lakeland festive table additions certainly achieve that.
‘Each of the six crackers form a fun and good quality game of Christmas themed bowling, with snowmen pinballs and a Christmas pudding ball, along with a fabric lane.
‘The obligatory joke and hat is still included and you’re even given a lovely material bag to keep the game in – so that it can be enjoyed again and again.
‘To top it off, the reasonably-priced crackers look adorable, with stripes and a Christmas pudding tag giving a playful as well as classic vibe.
‘I would definitely recommend these to any family for some fun-filled time around the dinner table.’
Drinks By Post Christmas Cracker
Drinks By Post Christmas Cracker is 100 per cent recyclable and plastic free, with each cracking featuring a personalised name in hand-written calligraphy on the front (pictured)
Cost: £18 each or six for £100
Drinks By Post Christmas Cracker is 100 per cent recyclable and plastic free, with each cracking featuring a personalised name in hand-written calligraphy on the front.
Filled with a pre-mixed double measure cocktail or a Belgian hot chocolate stirring stick, the cracker also includes an acorn, so after you’ve enjoyed your drink, you can grow your own tree in the empty glass bottle.
Jessica said: ‘The Drinks By Post Christmas Cracker was probably my favourite one – thanks to the personal touches, the classy decoration, and the inspiring and memorable gifts inside.
‘My name was elegantly penned on the front of the cracker, while blush ribbons held the pink piece together – making it feel more like a special gift just for me than a simple table addition.
‘But while the elegant outside was a big plus, the best part had to be what was inside, waiting to be unwrapped.
‘A delicious pre-mixed cocktail was included, alongside an acorn so the recipient can grow their own tree in the empty glass bottle once the drink is finished.
‘Clear instructions on how to do this were included, as well as information on how to recreate the festive beverage.
‘I would definitely recommend this as it’s a great cracker to add to a dinner table and means you send your guests away with a memorable gift.’
Boë Gin Selection Party Crackers
This festive pack (pictured), which is created in small batches by hand, claims to be the fun way to enjoy all four Boë Gins, and the perfect table addition for gin lovers
Cost: £25 (four pack)
This festive pack, which is created in small batches by hand, claims to be the fun way to enjoy all four Boë Gins, and the perfect table addition for gin lovers.
It arrives in a stand out gift box creatively designed to hold four individual crackers -each of which contain a different Boë Gin 5cl mini bottle, with the flavours being Violet, Peach and Hibiscus, Scottish Bramble and Boë Scottish Gin.
Charlotte said: ‘The Boe Distinctive Scottish Gins crackers are a welcome addition to any Christmas table.
‘They are beautifully decorated with floral pattern and bows, as well as including cracker favourites such as a paper crown and joke.
‘The vibrant and differing patterns make them attractive to the eye and definitely have a luxury feel.
‘The best part of course being that your typical throw away plastic toy is replaced with a substantially sized bottle of delicious gin liqueur.
‘The box of four includes a variety of flavours; peach and hibiscus, Scottish bramble, violet and classic, meaning dinner guests have the option to mix and match their drinks.
‘Although the luxury crackers come with a luxury price tag (£25) – which is the only downfall – they are definitely worth splashing out on for a fun twist on the classic cracker.’
Forever Crackers (pictured) are ‘completely guilt-free and designed to last a lifetime’ due to being totally reusable
Cost: £215 (six pack)
Forever Crackers are ‘completely guilt-free and designed to last a lifetime’ due to being totally reusable.
Made from luxury Italian silk and linen they don’t split open and send gifts flying out but instead are unwrapped, like a giant sweetie.
The six crackers come with colour matching fabric crowns inside a branded box, with classic sets left empty for customers to fill, while others include jokes and a gift – such asmini cocktails or certificates for selfless deeds.
Jessica said: ‘Looking like a luxurious candy cane treat, these Christmas crackers would make the perfect addition to any festive occasion.
‘Upon their arrival, I was hugely impressed with the stunning box they were packaged in – black and white striped and looking highly sophisticated, the product seemed more like a gift for a loved one than just a party table add-on.
‘While the price could initially put people off, the grandeur of the cracker – from it’s fabric crown to fit any sized head to the impressive gifts included, such as ready to drink cocktails or beautiful crystals ‘for luck’ – mostly fits the cost.
‘And the best part is that they’re reusable and easily repackaged thanks to the ribbons attached to the fabric of the cracker, as well as Velcro pieces.
‘I was initially worried I wouldn’t get my traditional bang from the luxury festive treat – but thankfully even that is included on the first try.
‘For those wanting to go all out and add a little elegance to their table, these are a great Christmas cracker to try if the festive budget allows – but ultimately, because of the price, they’re definitely an extravagant treat rather than a must-have addition.’
Advent of Change Charity Christmas Crackers
Each Advent of Change Christmas cracker donates £2 to a different charity and inside is a note telling you exactly what organisation you’ve helped (pictured)
Cost: £24.95 (six pack)
Each Advent of Change Christmas cracker donates £2 to a different charity and inside is a note telling you exactly what organisation you’ve helped, from those aiming to clear plastic from UK shores, to the supporting of key workers.
The new crackers are completely plastic-free and entirely recyclable, while the jokes have been written by celebrities – from Joanna Lumley to Richard Branson.
Nicole said: ‘The Advent of Change crackers are a great change for around the dinner table – and while £25 is quite pricey, I’ve spent that much on “luxury” crackers from other retailers and they’re full of rubbish that ends up in the bin.
‘The gift in each cracker is a donation to 1 of 24 charities, with an explanation on how your donation has made a difference. These are in a cute decoration design that you can then hang on your tree.
‘The jokes are written by celebrities, the one I pulled was Joanna Lumley, which makes them a bit more interesting.
‘Cracker hats are typically always too small for my head and end up ripping, but it fit perfectly.
‘Lastly, my favourite thing is that the cracker is completely plastic free, so can therefore be recycled. The ribbon holding the cracker together can be repurposed to hang your donation decoration on the tree. I will definitely look into these crackers next year, and recommend them to all.’
Tesco Luxury Crackers
It’s not only designer brands who are claiming to offer the best of luxury, with supermarkets also getting in on in the action. Pictured, Tesco luxury crackers
Cost: £7.50 (six pack)
It’s not only designer brands who are claiming to offer the best of luxury, with supermarkets also getting in on in the action.
Tesco’s glamorous table addition offers six crackers, with each containing a plastic free gift, a hat and a cheerful motto.
Bridie said: ‘These are pretty and would look lovely in a shiny red on the Christmas dinner table, but I have to admit they didn’t feel that luxurious.
‘The paper hat was solid and the insides were actually decent presents, and fun for the family, but nothing particularly useful beyond Christmas day.
‘It’s great they’re not plastic though! And the paper is easy to recycle. A decent addition to the festive tablescape, but I wouldn’t say they’re luxury.’
ManoMano’s Christmas Crackers Exquisite Collection Box
This box of six Harvey & Mason Exquisite Collection premium wide-barrelled Christmas crackers offers a fun and festive colourful design (pictured)
This box of six Harvey & Mason Exquisite Collection premium wide-barrelled Christmas crackers offers a fun and festive colourful design.
Each handmade cracker contains a gift, hat, motto and snap, while presented in classic gold and finished with matching satin style ribbon, glitter detailing, gold foil board and personalised tag with pearl gem decoration.
Jessica said: ‘These Christmas crackers looked elegant and sophisticated, featuring a golden and glitzy theme.
‘They seem to be of good quality and give hosts the opportunity to address who they are for thanks to the tag placed at the front of the cracker.
‘However, considering they appear so luxurious, the inside was disappointing – with a paper hat, corny joke and suitcase tag all being included.
‘I feel that for the price, I could’ve found ones just as impressive-looking for a lot cheaper, where the trinket would be just as uninspiring.
‘Despite them jazzing up my dinner table a substantial amount thanks to their decoration, I probably wouldn’t choose these again as the products inside weren’t to my taste.’