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16 best Christmas crackers for 2023, from luxury to personalised designs

With beauty gifts, booze and more inside, our favourites are nothing short of cracking

Danielle Wilkins
Thursday 12 October 2023 11:17 BST
<p>Everything from the contents to the snap of the cracker were considered</p>

Everything from the contents to the snap of the cracker were considered

Our Top Picks

Christmas crackers are the ultimate table decoration, and for many households, no festive place setting is complete without them. While every kind of brand (from beauty to beer) has jumped on the luxury advent calendar bandwagon, varied and unusual Christmas crackers can be a little trickier to find – unless you know where to look.

“Crackers are certainly still a cherished element of festive gatherings,” says Charlie Murray, Christmas buyer at John Lewis. “They add both a touch of tradition and excitement to the Christmas dinner experience, and searches for crackers are up 33 per cent on last year already.”

In line with modern table décor styles, Murray reveals that “there’s a trend in customers wanting crackers that feature unique icons or characters”, and when it comes to contents, “it’s all about the fun family games”.

Yet, for some, Christmas crackers have long been associated with unnecessary waste, owing to years of throwaway trinkets and plastic packaging that so often end up in landfill. So, is it possible to make crackers a part of your festive décor with minimal environmental impact?

“Crackers are much more sustainable now than they have been in previous years,” suggests Murray. “Look out for packaging that is FSC certified [meaning the paper used to make them comes from forests that meet strict environmental and social standards] and contents that are plastic free. Lastly, they should also be recyclable – including the paper hats and mottos.” Plus, of course, there’s always the option to purchase reusable crackers, which you can fill with your own meaningful gifts year after year.

How we tested

A selection of the best Christmas crackers for 2023

We selected our favourite designs from a whole range of brands covering a wide variety of price points. During testing, we looked closely at everything from the packaging and the price to the “snap” and the sustainability of the materials. Finally, we checked out the all-important contents to make sure there weren’t any disappointing surprises. Only the best designs made it onto the list – all so you can have a cracker of a Christmas (pun fully intended).

The best Christmas crackers for 2023 are:

  • Best Christmas crackers overall – Nancy & Betty Christmas tree luxury Christmas crackers: £37,
  • Best budget Christmas crackers – Ginger Ray candy cane Christmas crackers: £14.99,
  • Best Christmas crackers for beauty-product lovers – Bramley X Compton Marbling handmade Christmas crackers: £48,
  • Best luxury Christmas crackers – Emma Shipley lynx luxury crackers: £65,

Nancy & Betty Christmas tree luxury Christmas crackers

  • Best: Christmas cracker overall
  • Pack size : Six
  • Contents : Nutmeg grater, wooden honey drizzler, wooden plant labels, slinky, wooden yo-yo, faux leather keyring, wooden comb, washi tape, cookie cutter, mini pot of Tiptree strawberry jam by Wilkin & Sons
  • Why we love it
    • Gifts are plastic-free

To be our top pick, the best Christmas crackers had to be the ones that offer something for everyone this festive season, and these from Nancy & Betty have that in spades while also being great value for money and kind to the planet.

These handmade Christmas tree print designs – which feature a traditional Victorian Christmas tree with contrasting red bows – are made with beautifully thick paper stock. They’re also incredibly weighty, so they feel like a luxury product for their £37 price tag.

All of Nancy & Betty’s gorgeous prints have been created using vegetable-based inks, and everything – apart from the bows, which can be reused to decorate next year’s gifts – is recyclable, and the brand even plants a tree for every pack of crackers purchased. What’s more, the plastic-free gifts tucked alongside a hat and a joke are the type that’ll genuinely get plenty of use (the washi tape, cookie cutter and mini jam were all big hits).

For a modern twist on tradition, the Christmas tree print delivers, but this brand has a whole host of contemporary and classic designs to choose from.

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Ginger Ray candy cane Christmas crackers

  • Best: Budget Christmas crackers
  • Pack size: 12
  • Contents: A range of paper games and gifts
  • Why we love it
    • Recyclable
    • Can be personalised
    • Contents provide lots of entertainment

While some crackers can cost more than the presents underneath the tree, these celebration crackers from Ginger Ray prove that doesn’t have to be the case. They come in a hefty box of 12, making them perfect for larger gatherings or families with lots of children to cater to.

Not only do they feel sturdy and of brilliant quality, but we love the candy cane print, which is likely to sit pretty on your table, however you decide to dress it. Bonus points, too, for the fact they’re fully recyclable and you can personalise each one.

Inside, you’ll find a paper hat, joke and trivia question, plus a range of paper or card games and gifts, which include a crossword puzzle, sudoku, noughts and crosses, word search and dominoes – all of which are likely to provide more entertainment around the table than a keyring or compact mirror often found in the more expensive offerings.

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Bramley X Compton Marbling handmade Christmas crackers

  • Best: For beauty-product lovers
  • Pack size: Six
  • Contents: Bramley flower soap, 50ml bubble bath, 50ml body lotion, 50ml body wash, wildflower seeds, candle matches
  • Why we love it
    • Fillers are cruelty free and vegan friendly
    • Ultra-luxurious
  • Take note
    • Price

Without a doubt, some of the most sought-after crackers for 2023 are those of the beauty variety, but it has to be said that most of them are more suited to gifting rather than the table. Our favourite beauty-filled designs for this year are from bath and body brand Bramley.

Alongside a hat, snap, joke and trivia question, inside each cracker is a selection of handpicked pamper products, including bubble bath, body lotion, wildflower seeds, candle matches and more. As with all Bramley products, the bath and body gifts are made with 100 per cent natural botanicals and are both cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. In keeping with the brand ethos, the packaging is fully recyclable, too.

These handmade designs – complete with festive gold ribbon, which can be reused – feel ultra-luxurious, and while they’re certainly not cheap, they do offer great value for money.

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M&S tree-shaped Christmas crackers

  • Best: Alternative Christmas crackers
  • Pack size: Six
  • Contents: Make-your-own wooden tree decoration
  • Why we love it
    • Great value for money
    • Everything is plastic-free and recyclable

If you’re looking for something different this year – without having to fork out the big bucks – these cone-shaped crackers from M&S look brilliant on the table while being great value for money.

We weren’t quite sure how well these would “snap” when pulled, but they deliver on the bang. Inside you’ll find a quality wooden tree decoration that you piece together yourself – providing a fun little activity to do in between courses – alongside a classic paper hat and joke.

These crackers got the seal of approval from testers both young and old, and they also deliver brilliantly on the sustainability front, since everything is plastic-free and recyclable.

If you’re looking for crackers that are fun, creative and that the whole family will love, you can’t go wrong.

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Emma Shipley lynx luxury crackers

  • Best: Luxury Christmas crackers
  • Pack size: Six
  • Contents: Stainless steel pen, whistle, cocktail stirrer, ruler, keyring, shot glass
  • Why we love it
    • High quality
    • An extravagant choice with excellent detail
  • Take note
    • Pricier end of the scale

If you’re looking to add a stylish twist to your festive table, these enchanting crackers from luxury homeware and accessories label Emma Shipley certainly make a statement. The large crackers are adorned with the brand’s popular lynx design – a print inspired by Emma’s travels to the Western Cape in South Africa.

The quality of the card is divine, and the detail really is second to none – each handmade cracker is finished with velvet magenta ribbon, which can be upcycled as a tree decoration or for gift wrapping. Inside each cracker, you’ll find a range of stainless-steel gifts designed to please, including a cocktail stirrer, shot glass and a pen, alongside a snap, hat and joke.

At £65, these crackers are at the pricier end of the scale, so definitely keep them aside to add a touch of extravagance to the main event.

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William Morris At Home peacock and bird use and reuse fabric cracker with gift

  • Best: Reusable Christmas cracker
  • Pack size: One
  • Contents: Hand cream and fragrance-free lip balm
  • Why we love it
    • They’re a great size
    • Brilliant value for money
    • Reusable

If you’re looking to replace single-use crackers with a reusable alternative this year, this fabric-covered design from William Morris at Home is one of our top picks to elevate your Christmas table. The fabric unravels to reveal a Willow Bough kraft paper drum, which is filled with a delectable clementine and clove-scented hand cream and a fragrance-free lip balm. For following Christmases, you can simply add a gift of your choosing.

We love the opulence of the design – the peacock and bird print (inspired by the Peacock & Bird carpet in the William Morris Gallery) would look great on many a table setting, and each cracker is finished with sumptuous velvet ribbon for a touch of luxury.

At £15 for a single cracker, they’re on the more expensive side, but it’s a great-sized product. Plus, when you consider the quality of the gift and that it can be reused time and time again, it actually works out to be brilliant value for money. We love this as a favour or gift as much as a table cracker.

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Fortnum & Mason 1707 crackers

  • Best: Christmas crackers for foodies
  • Pack size: Six
  • Contents: Recipes from Fortnum & Mason’s renowned cookbook, plus accompanying miniature kitchen utensil
  • Why we love it
    • Luxury design
    • Add special touch to Christmas dinner table

As a brand synonymous with the festive season, Fortnum & Mason outdoes itself every year with its wide collection of luxury crackers. But there’s something about the 1707 design, decked out in the London store’s signature teal and gold colours, that adds an extra special touch to your Christmas décor.

Keen cooks will particularly love these crackers, as each one contains a recipe from F&M’s renowned cookbook, plus a kitchen utensil to use with it. We don’t want to spoil the surprise too much because these crackers really are rather wonderful if you’re someone who enjoys cooking up a storm in the kitchen, but you can expect everything from a white truffle toastie recipe (complete with a miniature grater) to the classic dusty road sundae (with silver coffee scoop).

The crackers themselves are made with the highest-quality printed-paper stock and finished with F&M printed ribbon bows. Prepare to be wowed by the quality of the paper crown too, which garnered a number of “oohs” from our table of testers!

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Hotel Chocolat mini chocolate Christmas crackers

  • Best: Miniature Christmas crackers
  • Pack size: 10
  • Contents: Individually wrapped chocolate treat
  • Why we love it
    • Can be used as place settings
    • Indulgent chocolate inside
  • Take note
    • No paper hat

Not enough space on the table for large crackers? These miniature versions from the well-loved high street chocolatier make the perfect sweet favour and come in a handy pack of 10 for larger gatherings (or just more for yourself if you’re anything like us).

With a “reserved for” label on each one (blank for personalisation), they make great place settings – or you might want to use them as stocking fillers or to jazz up your Christmas tree.

There’s no paper hat, corny joke or snap, but each cracker hides an indulgent, individually wrapped chocolate from the brand’s signature flavours, including billionaire’s shortbread, pecan praline and salted caramel cream. They’ll be gone in a single mouthful, but they undeniably offer more joy than another keyring ever will!

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Postbox Party Christmas colourful musical table crackers

  • Best: Christmas crackers for families
  • Pack size: Eight
  • Contents: Musical xylophone game with sheet music
  • Why we love it
    • Great entertainment value
    • Vibrant design
    • Create your own mini orchestra

These colourful creations are perfect for families who want to take festive fun to a whole new level this year. Each of the crackers comes with a hat, a joke, a xylophone piece and a wooden hammer to make up your own mini orchestra. There’s even colour-coded sheet music inside so you can have fun learning to play a mix of Christmas and everyday tunes alike.

If the plan is to keep iPads away from the table on Christmas day, this is something that’ll keep the kids – and indeed the whole family – entertained for a good while in between the main course and pud. And, once the fun is over, you can piece the instrument together end to make a reusable toy.

We love the vibrant designs – the rainbow hues are a great way to add a pop of colour to your tables. For an extra £20, you can add eight personalised wooden name tags to create the ultimate place settings, too.

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Keep This Cracker reusable crackers in card wallets

  • Best: Eco-friendly Christmas crackers
  • Pack size: Six
  • Contents: Empty, to fill with gifts of your choice
  • Why we love it
    • You can make them yourself
  • Take note
    • No hat, joke or gift

If crafting is your thing – or you just want to steer clear of single-use crackers this year – the range of reusable DIY designs from Manchester-based business Keep This Cracker are both excellent value and fun to make. The crackers come flat-packed and include ribbons made from recycled plastic bottles, alongside six low-noise eco-snaps, but you can also purchase standard snaps if you prefer things to go with more of a bang.

There are detailed instructions on how to make your crackers on the packaging, but you’ll also find a video on YouTube for extra guidance, which we found helpful – just scan the QR code on the wallet. As something of a novice, we found threading the snaps and ribbons a little fiddly at first, but once the first cracker was out of the way, we were on a roll.

There’s no hat, joke or gifts – the appeal here, of course, is that you can add your own. And since the crackers pull apart without tearing, you can reuse them year after year.

The quality of the card is excellent and there are six different prints to choose from, all of which feel quite traditional, so would probably suit a more classic Christmas tablescape. At £22, we think it’s great value for six crackers – plus you get an enjoyable activity out of it.

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Meri Meri reindeer with velvet bows crackers

  • Best: Christmas crackers for kids
  • Pack size: Size
  • Contents: Who am I? picture game
  • Why we love it
    • Appeal to children and adults
    • Entertaining contents

Year after year, Meri Meri delivers when it comes to a wide selection of colourful, family-friendly Christmas crackers that perfectly capture that North Pole spirit. In fact, the brand has become synonymous with designs so vibrant yet luxurious, that they’re hugely popular with both kids and adults alike.

Our favourites this year include these exquisite reindeer crackers, which come embellished with the most gorgeous velvet ribbons (which can be reused on everything from Christmas presents to crafts). They’re also of a good size for kid-friendly crackers, so in terms of getting what you pay for, they feel like excellent value.

As well as looking ultra-festive on the table, each one contains an entertaining Who Am I? game for the whole family to enjoy. Instead of a traditional paper crown, don your reindeer headband complete with “I am a…” card and get ready to have a giggle. There aren’t many games that appeal to both young and old, but these crackers got the seal of approval from both our four-year-old and 60-year-old testers around the table!

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Daylesford Organic Christmas party animal crackers

  • Best: Christmas crackers for design
  • Pack size: Six
  • Contents: Yo-yo, star-shaped cookie cutter, badge, mini grater, honey dipper, miniature slinky
  • Why we love it
    • Useful and engaging gifts

With a reassuringly thick paper that’s 100 per cent recyclable, and made using vegetable-based inks, these fun “party animal” designs from Daylesford make a great addition to any festive table. The jolly characters – each one a farm animal striking a fun pose and donning a party hat – were illustrated by British artist Nicholas Hughes.

In keeping with the brand’s ethos, you won’t find any plastic tat inside. Instead, you’ll discover a range of engaging and useful gifts for all the family, including a yo-yo, star-shaped cookie cutter, mini grater and more, alongside a snap, joke and a quality hat, which – dare we say it – actually stays put.

Our favourite thing about these crackers, however, has to be the adorable green bows, which can be removed and repurposed to adorn your Christmas presents and cards, or even the tree.

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Fever-Tree Vivir tequila cracker

  • Best: Boozy Christmas crackers
  • Pack size: One
  • Contents: 1 x 5cl spirit and 150ml Fever-Tree mixer
  • Why we love it
    • They’ll make a vibrant place setting
    • Great size

Alcohol-filled crackers are on the up, but our favourites by far are these individual designs from Fever-Tree, which feature a miniature bottle of spirit and a 150ml can of mixer in each one.

Having already made its name as the mixer of choice for discerning drinkers, Fever-Tree has teamed up with quality spirit names, such as Silent Pool, Mermaid and the Isle of Skye, to offer a variety of different cocktail options – think rhubarb & raspberry G&T, vodka blood orange spritz, and whiskey and ginger ale.

New for this year (and our personal favourite) is the tequila Mexican lime spritz, which features a miniature bottle of Vivir tequila and Fever-Tree’s Mexican lime soda. There are plenty of non-alcoholic options for teetotallers, too.

The crackers are a great size for a typical place setting and the array of vibrant colours looks great on the table. We love the idea of gifting each guest their favourite tipple on arrival – just have ice to hand and it’ll be a very merry Christmas indeed.

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Puzzle Post UK six escape room puzzle Christmas crackers

  • Best: Christmas crackers for dinner-table games
  • Pack size: Six
  • Contents: A 30-minute dinner table game
  • Why we love it
    • Great for dinner table brainteasers
    • Everything is recyclable

If you’re the kind of quizzical family who loves playing games in between courses, these award-winning, escape room-inspired crackers from Puzzle Post UK will be a sure-fire hit.

Each of the crackers in this set contains a cryptic puzzle to be solved before completing the final task, with one or two bonus games along the way. It’s incredibly good fun and the brainteasing puzzles cover a range of difficulty levels, so it’s a great way to get everyone around the table involved.

Alongside the games, you’ll find a paper hat and joke, and everything is recyclable and plastic-free.

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Melt London Christmas crackers

  • Best: Luxury chocolate Christmas crackers
  • Pack size: Six
  • Contents: Chocolate bonbons
  • Why we love it
    • The design is vibrant and plastic-free
    • Perfect after dinner treat

Whether you’re hosting a table of chocoholics this Christmas, or you just want to serve up an alternative to petit fours, these beautifully indulgent crackers from Melt London are sure to go down well with dinner guests.

This year, the boutique chocolatier based in London’s hip Notting Hill has upped its packaging game with a vibrant, plastic-free design inspired by artist Roy Lichtenstein.

Each cracker features a trio of individually wrapped, organic handmade truffles – a dark, soft-centred gianduja bonbon, a Christmas-spiced milk chocolate, and a white chocolate and cranberry truffle – alongside a hat and motto. Our personal favourite was the Christmas-spiced milk truffle but, without doubt, all are guaranteed to stir up a series of “mmms” from your guests. The perfect after-dinner treat.

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Sipsmith gin Christmas crackers

  • Best: Christmas crackers for adult festivities
  • Number of crackers: Four
  • Contents: Mini bottle of dry gin, zesty orange gin, lemon-drizzle gin and sloe gin
  • Why we love it
    • You’ll find a juniper-inspired joke inside
    • Great for gin and tonic lovers

What better way to get the celebrations started than with a tipple or two? This fun selection of crackers from distillery giant Sipsmith is perfect for friends and family who want a little more than a keyring or puzzle.

The enclosed drinks make great accompaniments to a festive meal (be sure to have some tonic water to hand) or as the main ingredient for Christmas cocktails. The set includes a miniature bottle of London dry gin (for the purists), a zesty orange gin, a lemon-drizzle gin and a sloe gin for the berry-obsessed sippers – plus a juniper-inspired joke, naturally.

Sipsmith has also enclosed a number of golden tickets within certain packs, giving you the chance to win a whole host of gin-inspired prizes this festive season.

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The verdict: Best Christmas crackers for 2023

We love the luxury Christmas tree crackers from Nancy & Betty not only for their varied selection of cute and useful gifts but also because they come in at an enticingly affordable price point compared to many other luxury designs on the market. They really are excellent quality for their £37 price tag.

Elsewhere, if you’re really looking to splash the cash, there’s no denying that there’s something rather special about seeing a Fortnum & Mason cracker on the table, while the beauty and wellbeing gifts tucked inside Bramley x Compton Marbling’s exquisite designs are made to be loved and used.

Get into the spirit with our guide to this year’s beauty advent calendars for Christmas

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