The story of the Christmas cracker begins in 1840, when confectioner Tom Smith discovered tissue-wrapped sugared almonds on a trip to Paris. Determined to enchant Londoners with this French phenomenon, Tom set about updating the little gift. He replaced the tissue paper with sturdier wrappers, the bonbons with presents and poems and, of course, introduced the legendary snap. Today, London’s luxury stores, which are within easy distance of Hotel 41, compete each year to invent the fanciest Christmas crackers. Here are a few of our favourites.
The Imperial Crackers: £1000, Fortnum & Mason
In true Fortnum & Mason fashion, The Imperial Crackers come in a signature wicker hamper. Inside, is a dazzling set of ruby-red crackers, with an embossed leaf design and plenty of velvet embellishments. If you can bear to pull these beauties, you’ll find gold fabric crowns, witty scrolls, and luxury gifts like Lanvin cufflinks and wallets from Ettinger.
Harrods of London Tudor Rose Crackers: £110, Harrods
London’s quintessential luxury department store has outdone itself this year. The Harrods handcrafted Tudor Rose Crackers certainly deserve their name – the baroque-print gold wrappers wouldn’t look out of place on Henry VIII’s banquet table. Pull them for jokes, hats (though not your ordinary flimsy tissue variety) and an assortment of silver gifts such as salt and pepper strainers and an elegant tea strainer.
Masons Gin Party Crackers: £47.50, Drinks in Tube
Certain to please any gin lover, these luxury crackers are a collaboration between Drinks in Tube and Yorkshire distiller, Masons. The elegant wrappers are patterned in gold and cream, and finished with sleek black ribbons. Inside, paper crowns and jokes nod to tradition but the accompanying gifts are a little more special. Each contains a 50ml vial of Masons gin in a variety of flavours from gently spiced tea to sweet lavender.
Rather Large Chocolate Christmas Cracker: £36, Hotel Chocolat
This enormous cracker is the ultimate centrepiece to the Christmas dinner table. Over two feet of snowflake-printed casing and scarlet ribbons, the cracker is pulled like any other and even fitted with a snap. Inside is an envelope containing twelve paper crowns and jokes, but you can forget about the rest of the usual bric-a-brac. Instead, you’ll find forty delectable chocolates – caramel pralines, champagne truffles and even reindeer-shaped treats for the little ones.
Champagne Glitter Crackers: £70, Selfridges
This sophisticated set of crackers will add some glamour to the dining room Christmas décor. Coated in gold glitter, with pale satin bows and little bells, they are a little plumper than your average cracker. This is for good reason; a mini hipflask, ballpoint pen and, of course, a champagne stopper are all in the lucky dip, each individually packaged in a pretty black bag.
Stay at Hotel 41 over Christmas and you’ll treated to a festive Afternoon Tea and your very own Christmas stocking on Christmas Eve.
Image Credits: Lead image © Hotel Chocolat. Imperial Cracker contents © Fortnum & Mason. Tudor Rose Crackers © Harrods. Drinks in a Tube © Drinks in a Tube. Large chocolate Christmas Cracker © Hotel Chocolat.