Advertisement

Join in
Mumsnet is supported by readers. All our writers obsessively research every product we recommend. When you buy through a link on our site we might earn commission but this never influences our product choices.

Best Christmas crackers for 2021: Xmas fun for the whole family

Make sure Christmas dinner goes with a bang this year with our roundup of the best Christmas crackers, according to Mumsnetters.

By Poppy O'Neill | Last updated Nov 12, 2021

Christmas crackers

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without crackers. A bad joke, a paper hat and a random toy - what could be more festive? 

But crackers have moved on, with many filled with family games and child-friendly activities to keep kids entertained while you finish your turkey in peace. For the eco-conscious, there are plastic-free and reusable crackers, plus fill-your-own varieties for when you want to add an individual touch. 

You don’t need to wait until the big day to find out whether your crackers are a hit, because we’ve scoured the Talk forums for Mumsnetters’ top recommendations. 

These are the best Christmas crackers to buy in 2021. 

Advertisement

1. Best overall Christmas crackers: Robin Reed Handbell Christmas Crackers

Robin Reed handbell Christmas crackers

Price: £27 | Buy now from Amazon

"The best ones I bought had a set of hand bells in - my dc still use these now, several years on, so they were definitely a good investment!" - PermanentPortakabin

"We've also had the hand bell crackers and loved them. We've had them with both sides of the family and have been a lot of fun" - RoseyPeas

For a noisy, fun after-dinner family activity, these handbell crackers by Robin Reed are hard to beat. The crackers have a traditional look and contain a joke and a paper hat as well as a hand bell each. Once you’ve finished eating, there are sheets of easy to read music, and each bell plays a different note. The game is lots of fun, and the bells are good quality, making a lovely keepsake. Young kids can join in, and the less perfect your rendition, the better.  

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Eight
  • Price per cracker: £3

2. Best budget Christmas crackers: Penguin Christmas Party Crackers

Penguin Christmas party crackers

Price: £4 | Buy now from Poundshop

"We are having Poundshop crackers because everyone likes a cracker but no one cares what gift is inside" - YellowFlowers

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of pressure to make Christmas day perfect. An Instaready tree, matching PJs and a mountain of presents are all well and good, but if you’re looking to dial down the pressure - not to mention the budget - why not go for a cheap and cheerful box of crackers, like these cute penguin crackers from Poundshop. Each one comes with a joke, a party hat and a little gift. As crackers go they’re pretty basic, but once you’ve got a paper hat on your head and some roast potatoes in your belly, what more could you need? 

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Six
  • Price per cracker: 66p

3. Best luxury Christmas crackers: Liberty Eucalyptus Crackers Box of Six

Liberty luxury Christmas crackers

Price: £30 | Buy now from Liberty

"Liberty do nice posh crackers" - Davros

For a beautiful take on the traditional Christmas cracker, check out these eucalyptus patterned ones from Liberty. Designed by Gisela Graham and sporting a rustic hessian bow, they’ll add a classy touch to your Christmas dinner table. Inside you’ll find small but actually quite useful little gifts - bottle openers, keyrings, tweezers, nail clippers and a pack of playing cards. 

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Six
  • Price per cracker: £5

4. Best Christmas crackers for kids: Kuckoo Magic Game Crackers

Kuckoo magic Christmas crackers

Price: £16 | Buy now from Amazon

"I always get Kuckoo crackers from Amazon" - Fivemoreminutes1

Mumsnetters love these magic trick crackers for their kid-friendly qualities. Each one contains all you need for a magic trick as well as a party hat and a joke. The tricks are mostly plastic, so this isn’t the most eco-friendly option, but learning the trick and showing it to each other is a fun and absorbing family activity that will keep children busy while you relax. 

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Six
  • Price per cracker: £2.60

5. Best plastic-free Christmas crackers: Tom Smith Luxury Recycled Crackers

Tom Smith eco Christmas crackers

Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

With a wooden gift, a party hat and a joke inside each one - and absolutely no plastic - these subtly stylish crackers by Tom Smith are an eco-friendly choice. An estimated 40 million crackers are thrown away each Christmas, so making sure yours are 100% recyclable is something Mumsnetters are increasingly concerned about. 

Inventors of the first Christmas cracker in 1847, Tom Smith has a royal warrant, a commitment to sustainability and a portion of the profits from these crackers goes to the Trussell Trust.  

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Six
  • Price per cracker: £2.50

6. Best fun Christmas crackers: Lakeland Racing Pigs in Blankets Crackers

Lakeland pigs in blankets Christmas crackers

Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

"The racing ones are great, we get ours from Lakeland, no crappy gift but a game that can be played. So much more fun between courses" - SuperFairy

"In the past my DCs have loved the wind up toys, we have quite a collection of them now and it’s tradition to race them on the dining table each year" - AliceMcK

For a post-lunch family game, Mumsnetters love Lakeland’s racing games. This pigs in blankets edition is a classic of the genre, featuring six pull-back racing pigs and a race track to play on. Naturally, you’ll also find a party hat and a joke in each cracker too, all of which are 100% recyclable. The pigs themselves are made of plastic, but they’re pretty good quality and will last for many family games nights to come.  

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Six
  • Price per cracker: £3.33

7. Best unusual Christmas crackers: Crackers Ltd Reusable Tin Crackers

Reusable tin Christmas crackers

Price: £29 | Buy now from Amazon

"You can actually reuse them, saving money in the long run and also put what you want in them. So Vodka for me, Brandy for him and toys for the kids. Sorted!!" - VinnieB

For the price of a box of moderately posh, single-use crackers, these are a total bargain and will last forever. Made of tin, and with twelve hats and jokes included, you can pop whatever small gift you choose into the cracker. Granted, they don’t snap like traditional paper crackers, but if you’re looking for an innovative and eco-friendly alternative, these are a brilliant choice. 

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Four
  • Price per cracker: £7.25

8. Best Christmas crackers for adults: Whitley Neill Gin Crackers

Whitley Neill gin Christmas crackers

Price: £23 | Buy now from Amazon

For a grown-up Christmas treat, a boozy cracker is a winner. While these aren’t strictly crackers in the traditional sense - they don’t snap and there’s no party hat - they make a stylish Christmas dinner table gift for your guests. With parma violet-, rhubarb-, raspberry-, pink grapefruit- and blood orange-flavoured gins included, after dinner cocktails are sorted - just add tonic.

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Six
  • Price per cracker: £3.80

9. Best cool Christmas crackers: Forever Crackers

Amara Forever Christmas crackers

Price: £185 | Buy now from Amara

For a pretty eye-watering price, you could be the proud owner of these beautiful fabric forever crackers. Designed to be unwrapped like a giant sweet, each one is made from Italian silk and linen, and contains a matching fabric crown as well as space for personalised gifts. As the name suggests, with the right care these crackers will last forever, and could even be used for birthdays and dinner parties.  

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Six
  • Price per cracker: £30.83

10. Best fill-your-own Christmas crackers: John Lewis Fill-Your-Own Luxury Christmas Crackers

John Lewis fill-your-own Christmas crackers

Price: £10 | Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

"Waitrose/JL sell fill-your-own crackers that are ready assembled with hat, joke and cracker, you just pop the gift in and tie a bow around the unsealed end. They are usually reduced to half price in the run up to Christmas" - orangenasturtium

"I put a small gift in that I know will be appreciated/used by the recipient and fill with wrapped sweets. You could just go with sweets if you can't be bothered to find gifts" - orangenasturtium  

Another antidote to the much maligned “plastic tat”, more and more Mumsnetters are turning to fill-your-own style crackers, like these ones from John Lewis. In 2019 John Lewis committed to plastic-free Christmas crackers, and these ones are the perfect way to do crackers your way. Tied at one end and with the other left open for you to carefully insert your gifts, the only drawback is having to write your own jokes...

Key specs

  • Number of crackers: Six
  • Price per cracker: £1.66

Advertisement

How to buy the best Christmas crackers

The best Christmas crackers are both fun and eco-friendly. Look for recyclable card and minimal plastic. Crackers with games you can keep and play again are great value, minimise waste and will provide after-dinner entertainment too. 

What gifts are good to put in a Christmas cracker?

Anything that fits is fair game for a fill-your-own cracker. Scratch cards, wrapped sweets, little toiletries and alcohol miniatures are popular with Mumsnetters, but you could also add origami, jewellery, stationery, stickers or even a reusable party hat

Are Christmas crackers safe for kids to use?

Crackers make a loud noise and take a bit of welly to pull, so they’re mostly not recommended for children under three. You need to be 12 to buy them because they’re technically “pyrotechnic articles” under British law, but they are completely safe as long as the cracker snap is used within the cracker as intended. 

What are the best Christmas crackers to buy? 

We love the Robin Reed handbell crackers and rate them as our best overall Christmas crackers because they provide family fun way beyond dinner time. 

How we chose our recommendations 

Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation from a real parent, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which Christmas crackers discerning Mumsnet users had bought for their own families. We compiled a list of the crackers they recommended for being good value and great quality.

We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which Christmas crackers had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites and print media, and what customers’ reviews said about them.

Having collated all that information, we picked the crackers we thought would make the best buys in several categories.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.