Christmas cracked

‘Christmas Day is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ’. So why, Wikipedia, does Jesus think I need a plastic harmonica? Or a nail brush? Or a small bag of marbles? It’s a bad joke – wait, he thinks I need that, too.

To be fair, the nail brush comes in handy. And to a three-year-old, the harmonica is a virtual pulling tool. Marbles… well, there’s never really a reason (oh Jesus, you tease us). But if you compare, let’s say, an Xbox 360 with a crayon it is easy to see why your average Christmas cracker gift is readily discarded (though if someone out there can fit an Xbox into a cracker it is sure to change everything).

Lady Gaga decomposed

And, OK, so they’re meant to be a novelty. Nobody busts open a cracker only to exit the table in disgust declaring, ‘How do you expect a plastic harmonica to further my music career? I’m leaving!’ Besides, your average eight-year-old is more than happy with an inexplicably small water gun not big enough to drown a gerbil.

House of Fraser has useless tat for kids/fans of incompetent crayons down to a tee, their £6 crackers offering such trinkets as a large plastic paperclip, mini sellotape dispenser and (of course) that small bag of marbles. If retailers really want to get children’s attention, why not mix things up a bit? Pop in some Morse code, spelling ‘SANTA DOES NOT EXIST’, for instance. Or a Brussel sprout (I may have got this tip off festive genius Kirstie Allsopp’s Homemade Christmas but I can’t say).

What about the adults? Plastic whistles and monkey-shaped erasers are all well and good when you’re six but what if you’re 36 and holding a sophisticated festive meal for acquaintances you want to impress? Fear not, says Marks and Spencer (‘This isn’t just a plastic whistle’ was never going to work). Their selection contains not so much gifts but office stationery. And quite so – there’s nothing like pulling a calculator out of a cracker and starting on your taxes early in view of the Christmas turkey, eh M&S?

But if this industrious image fails to tempt, Harrods aims to make you look like a true pimp. For a month’s rent in Hammersmith you can ‘win’ a cigar leather case, Swarovski crystals whistle keyring or even a diamond encrusted padlock. Perfect for, say, P-Diddy. Not so much your auntie Carol. I don’t care if she drizzles balsamic vinegar over everything.

Harrods: accessorising pimps since 1824

Tesco has achieved the perfect middle ground between plastic harmonica and leather cigar case, in my opinion. For £20 (OK, in the sale) these crackers contain photo frames, a candle and playing cards. Normal yet nice. Practical yet pleasant. Bear Grylls yet Eamonn Holmes.

And my Christmas cracker gifts this year? A red cellophane fish that tells your fortune (options included ‘fickle’, ‘restless’ and ‘constipated’) and – you guessed it – a small bag of marbles acquired at the office party. Last seen rolling across Zizzi floorboards. Guess it beats being nailed to a cross. Nightmahr.

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2 thoughts on “Christmas cracked

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  1. Was feeling post-Christmas chrismassy and stumbled on your Christmas post.

    Never discount marbles true value [pretending that it’s entirely possible you’re holding a glass eye by your eye – trust me, kids love it – as well as] in actually playing marbles(!) because they’re great.

    To answer the question of whether or not crackers can ever be any good, I’ve started to make my own Christmas crackers and tailor them to the person I’m pulling…with – pulling WITH, especially as it’s almost always family – and I’ve found it to work in a much more fun way.

    Just a thought. Merry post-Christmas, Christmas fan.

    1. Thanks for your feedback 🙂 Sorry for this much delayed response, I now aim to write a blog every week, though don’t hold your breath – I don’t own a first aid certificate just yet.

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