10 best luxury Christmas crackers: Swap the plastic tat for something extravagant this year

·10-min read
They’re a little more pricey, but you’ll get a beautiful-looking decoration for your table, with high-quality gifts that you’ll actually want to keep or use (iStock/The Independent)
They’re a little more pricey, but you’ll get a beautiful-looking decoration for your table, with high-quality gifts that you’ll actually want to keep or use (iStock/The Independent)

Christmas crackers are a fun tradition that dates back to 1847. But if you’re looking to swap the flimsy plastic toy fillings for something a little more extravagant, then you’ll want to invest in one of the best luxury Christmas crackers.

Yes, they’re a little pricier, but what you’ll get is a beautiful-looking decoration for your table, with high-quality gifts that you’ll actually want to keep or use.

From artisan chocolates to perfume and even stationery, there’s plenty to choose from in the way of designs and fillings. Before buying, take into account how many people you’ll have to cater for – it’s always worth getting a few extra for those unexpected guests.

Then there are the eco-credentials, if you want a sustainable option then you’ll need to look for one that is plastic and/or glitter-free. Lastly, think about what gifts would go down well with your friends and family – do you want a mix of surprises, or maybe you’d like to come up with your own tailored gifts, in which case a fill-your-own design might work best.

How we tested

We’ve rounded up the best options on the market this year to give you a wide range to choose from, whatever your taste and budget. All that’s left to do is make your selection and wait for the celebrations, reassured your Christmas celebrations will truly go off with a bang.

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The best Christmas crackers for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Harvey Nichols go crackers: £60, Harveynichols.com

  • Best high-quality style at an affordable price – Annabel James pine cones luxury crackers: £35.95, Annabeljames.co.uk

  • Best sustainable choice – Matchimony personalised fabric reusable Christmas crackers: £70, Notonthehighstreet.com

  • Best for adding a magical touch to your table – Cox & Cox luxury handmade moon and stars crackers: £50, Coxandcox.com

  • Best for large Christmas gatherings – Hotel Chocolat rather large cracker: £36, Hotelchocolat.com

  • Best for foodies – Fortnum & Mason Piccadilly crackers: £60, Fortnumandmason.com

  • Best for a posh gift – Martha Brook stationery lovers cracker: £12.95, Marthabrook.com

  • Best for matching your crackers to your table setting – Sophie Allport partridge Christmas crackers: £20, Sophieallport.com

  • Best for chocolate lovers – Melt Christmas crackers: £49, Meltchocolates.com

  • Best for beauty addicts – Jo Malone Christmas cracker: £32, Jomalone.co.uk

Harvey Nichols go crackers

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

It can be hard to please everyone, but this set of six crackers from luxury department store Harvey Nichols certainly gives it a good go. Bit of a foodie? Then you’ll love the Harvey Nichols’ jam. Like to entertain? The engraved “HN” champagne stopper will work a treat. Look forward to a tipple? A Damson gin might float your boat. Even the kids are catered for with a mini slinky and wood whistle.

The crackers themselves are a good size and come in a very stylish monochrome design with a subtle “HN” logo print and ribbon, plus you get either a gold or silver crown and the standard joke. For us, it was the choice of gifts and very Instagrammable look of the crackers that made them our winner.

Buy now £60.00, Harveynichols.com

Annabel James pine cones luxury crackers

Best: High-quality style at an affordable price

Rating: 8/10

Not only is the sweet pine cone design on these Nancy and Betty crackers a little different, but every effort has been made to ensure they’re better for the environment. Eco-friendly, plastic-free and recyclable, you can feel reassured that you’re not buying cheap tat that’s headed for landfill.

We also found they feel slightly fatter than your average cracker, and that’s to accommodate the rather beautiful gifts inside, which range from a wooden honey drizzler to a nutmeg grater and even some wildflower seeds. We had a little pot of jam in the one we tested, along with a hat, joke and the usual snap. A great price for a set of six crackers that are presented beautifully in a black-and-white striped box.

Buy now £35.95, Annabeljames.co.uk

Matchimony personalised fabric reusable Christmas crackers

Best: Sustainable choice

Rating: 8/10

Now these stunning crackers are not only a fun way to add a personalised gift to each person around your Christmas table, but we love that you can reuse the soft satin square it’s wrapped in as a napkin after. It’s not your traditional cracker in that it doesn’t come with a snap and you don’t “pull” it, but instead you open beautiful velvet ribbons to find your gift, with the inside made of recyclable card that you can use again and again, year after year.

Whether you choose to have a name or nickname added to each cracker, or even a phrase, you can choose from sets of four right up to sets of 12, and in a range of deliciously rich colours, too.

Buy now £70.00, Notonthehighstreet.com

Cox & Cox luxury handmade moon and stars crackers

Best: For adding a magical touch to your table

Rating: 8/10

We love the design of these handmade crackers, with their twinkling night sky star and moon pattern and dark green-grey background, finished with neat dickie bow ribbons at each end. These are the sort of crackers that you can use at Christmas, but also to celebrate new year as they feel fit for a party with glimmering metallic highlights.

Gifts include a star cookie cutter, honey dipper and wildflower seeds (we had a mini grater in ours), and they come in a box of six. A great all-rounder.

Buy now £50.00, Coxandcox.com

Hotel Chocolat rather large cracker

Best: For large Christmas gatherings

Rating: 9/10

If you’d rather your Christmas table wasn’t taken up with individual crackers or you have a fair few guests, then this is the one for you. This beast of a cracker is a huge white design with a silver snowflake emblem and red-ribbon ties, and inside you’ll find 40 individually wrapped chocolates, along with 12 paper hats and 12 jokes.

That’s not all though… each of the chocolates has a festive spin, with Christmas tree and reindeer shapes, snowflakes, and stars. Plus, flavours included “Christmas Mess”, Champagne and even a treacle tart. A great one to pop on the table after dinner for sweet-toothed crowds.

Buy now £36.00, Hotelchocolat.com

Fortnum & Mason Piccadilly crackers

Best: For foodies

Rating: 9/10

If that signature Eau de Nil colourway isn’t instantly recognisable as Fortnum & Mason, then the logo-print ribbon on these crackers is a sure giveaway. Finished with gold trim and mini gold ball details at either end, these crackers are a pure delight – but it’s what’s inside that makes them even more unique.

Each one contains a different recipe from Fortnum’s cook book, paired with a miniature kitchen utensil to use while you cook. Kids will like the shortbread recipe and cookie-cutter, while the Welsh rarebit toasties and salt scoop is a cracker for the snackers. There’s even a cocktail recipe with lemon reamer for those that like a tipple.

The crackers, outer box, paper hats and jokes are all fully recyclable (aside from the trims) and these came a very, very close runner-up to our winner.

Buy now £60.00, Fortnumandmason.com

Martha Brook stationery lovers cracker

Best: Posh gift

Rating: 8/10

If you’re choosing individual Christmas crackers for the table or are looking for a small gift or Secret Santa, then you can’t go far wrong with this sweet design that’s perfect for stationery addicts. The navy blue cracker-shaped box contains an assortment of stationery – think gold-patterned washi tape, gold geometric paperclips, eraser, brass bookmarks and a mini sticky notepad – all in a cute little pouch.

Ideal for those that have started working from home or love a good deskscape, it’s definitely more of a posh gift than a traditional cracker. While there’s no snap to it, joke or hat, what you get inside more than makes up for that – plus you can opt to have a personalised star decoration added to it with the recipient’s name on.

Buy now £12.95, Marthabrook.com

Sophie Allport partridge Christmas crackers

Best: For matching your crackers to your table setting

Rating: 8/10

We’d hate for you to think that a luxury cracker can only be called so because of its hefty price tag, which is why we’ve included this £20 set from renowned lifestyle brand Sophie Allport. Inspired by her love of nature and the countryside, Sophie designs a wide range of products from her Lincolnshire home, including this sweet new partridge print.

As well as the beautiful design and rich red ribbons, this set of six crackers include the usual hat and joke, but also a paper decoration, which can be added to a tree, used to embellish a gift or strung up to form a garland. What we like most about this set, though, is the fact that it’s part of a larger collection, so you can go for the whole shebang with a matching table runner, napkins, mugs, plates, trays and even an apron, should you wish.

Buy now £20.00, Sophieallport.com

Melt Christmas crackers

Best: For chocolate lovers

Rating: 8/10

These crackers do exactly what they say on the tin, with sumptuous chocolates that literally melt in your mouth. Yes, they’re indulgent at over £50 for six, but that’s what this feature is all about – indulging in a set that’s a little bit special and a lot luxurious.

The packaging is spot-on: rich velvety brown and white crackers with what looks like chocolate dripping down them, tied with golden-brown ribbon. Inside you’ll find one of three flavours: dark chocolate and hazelnut, milk chocolate and Christmas spices or white chocolate and cranberry, along with a joke and ice breaker question. Sublime.

Buy now £51.45, Meltchocolate.com

Jo Malone Chisrtmas cracker

Best: For beauty addicts

Rating: 9/10

A cracker with perfume in, you say? Yes folks, this incredibly indulgent offering is from refined scent expert Jo Malone and although it’s not cheap at £32 per cracker, you can be sure that it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

We tested a cream design, but it also comes in silver as well, both of which are a neat box-shape with the signature black ribbon and logo on. Inside you’ll find a small treat, from cologne and hand wash to body cream. Scents included English pear and freesia, grapefruit, English oak and hazelnut, wood sage and sea salt, and our personal favourites, honeysuckle and davana and peony and suede.

If you’ve never experienced a Jo Malone scent before, there’s no better time and although it’s probably more a gift than your average round-the-table cracker, it’s a lovely Christmas luxury nonetheless.

Buy now £32.00, Jomalone.co.uk

The verdict: Luxury Christmas crackers

This was a particularly hard one to judge as all of these crackers are luxurious in their own way, and what appeals to one won’t be top of the list for another. We chose the Harvey Nichols’ Go Crackers as our winner, purely for their indulgent design and a good range of gifts, but there were several close runners-up.

If you have a sweet tooth then you can’t go wrong with Hotel Chocolat’s rather large cracker, which makes a pretty good table centre and saves you buying after-dinner mints. Then there’s Fortnum & Mason’s design – we loved it’s glitzy appearance and the fact you get a F&M recipe with each one. And Jo Malone’s fragrant offering was also something to behold.

For a luxury cracker at a more affordable price, then Nancy & Betty’s pine cone crackers from Annabel James are a great option.

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