That month after Christmas when it’s too hot to move out of your own shadow, so the country takes its month-long siesta. Which means it’s the perfect time to
#61 Upgrade Christmas Crackers
You may be thinking that the weeks following December 25th aren’t the most logical time to do this, but there are several reasons why January is, in fact, the perfect month to begin:
- The memory of how disappointing Christmas crackers really are is fresh in your mind.
Pretty as a picture with a cracking start they plunge downhill after that.
Paper hats that make the beautiful look plain, and the not-so-beautiful look plain and silly, and jokes that would cause any self respecting dad to weep. [‘Q: WHAT DO YOU CALL A HORSE IN PYJAMAS? A. A ZEBRA’ Really? After two hundred thousand years of evolution, this is the best we can do?]
The final blow, of course, is the useless, tacky, plastic toy that’s destined for landfill.
- In January, the big department stores offload their unsold Christmas crackers for peanuts. I found a box of six very elegant ones, normally priced at $75 for half that price. However, $37.50 still seemed a bit steep for higher quality paper, a louder cracker bang and a slightly better class of rubbish inside.
In the end, I lashed out on this box of ten crackers for – wait for it – 50 cents. For the entire box.
- By starting this project now, you have a whole year to discover more flattering festive attire than a flimsy paper hat, find jokes that are truly rib-tickling, and source tiny thoughtfully chosen items that can be tucked into existing crackers. Hand-picked treasures to match the interests of family and friends.
The first task is to gently disembowel the crackers of their contents, taking care not to damage the cracker strip.
Enter the toaster prongs – perfect for the job
Not confined to the kitchen any more
After removing the small bow and straightening out one end, it’s an easy job…
…performed with surgical precision
While the contents may have delighted a child in the 1950s, they don’t quite cut it any more:
Although at 50¢ for the lot, it seems churlish to complain
Now comes the fun bit: thinking up ideas for better gifts that are small enough to fit into a cracker and will give the recipient a lovely surprise. And you have a whole year to find them! Twelve months to keep an eye out at stationer’s supplies and hardware stores, garden centres and kitchen shops, and every retail establishment you might enter between now and December.
A quick scout around home has turned up a few ideas already:
- Brightly coloured handkerchief – large or small
- Mobile phone hook – it attaches to back of the phone, rotates 360º and lets you hang it in the car, slip it on your finger or rest it on an angle for photo taking or viewing
- Strawberry huller (yes, really)
- Garden seeds – for the green thumbed
- Ear buds – for the podcast devotee. Handy to have more than one set…
- A wee nip – for comfort
- A USB stick
- A mini book-reading light
- Book of stamps – remember them? Still needed on the rare occasion.
- Hair bands
- + 13 + … = Your imagination.
Finding a glamorous alternative for paper hats has proved much more difficult. Does anyone look good in one?
So what about including larger colourful handkerchiefs for folk to tie rakishly around their necks during the festivities instead? At least there’d be a use for them after Christmas. A few colourful paper hats for the littlies mightn’t go astray, though.
Finally, write down the best jokes or the pithiest tweets or the funniest comments you hear throughout the year. They’ll be perfect to include in the cracker when December rolls around.
Or better still, ask a relative to come up with some bespoke cartoons. You never know your luck: