Cracking ideas to spread festive cheer
Treat your guests to more than just a paper hat and a joke this Christmas. Katie Wright rounds up this season's best beauty crackers and baubles
Flimsy paper crowns and eye-rollingly bad jokes may be a time-honoured festive tradition, but if you want to induce gasps of delight rather than groans around the dinner table, you need to up your cracker game.
And when it comes to banging decorations, no one does it better than beauty brands, with more and more luxurious, treat-filled crackers on the shelves every year.
Add to that the gorgeous array of baubles to truss up your tree, and you're looking at your most beautiful Yuletide yet...
Offering the best bang for your buck are the boxes of crackers filled with beauty minis. Baylis & Harding Midnight Fig & Pomegranate Christmas Crackers, reduced from £10 to £5 for pack of four (www.houseoffraser.co.uk), contain either a body wash or lotion in that fruity infusion, while Sanctuary Surprises Crackers, £10 for four, conceal the same products, but slightly larger, and in a variety of scents (www.sanctuary.com). The biggest bargain, however, comes with Superdrug's make-up-filled Flutter Crackers, reduced from £6 to £4.50 for five (www.superdrug.com).
Moving upmarket, you'll find a handbag-ready hand cream inside each MOR My One And Only Lychee Flower Little Luxuries Hand Cream Cracker, reduced from £8 to £6 each (FeelUnique.com), and Decleor's Hand Cream Cracker Skincare Gift Set, £10.80 each (www.johnlewis.com), while the Margaret Dabbs Fabulous Cracker, £12, contains a nourishing cuticle serum (www.margaretdabbs.co.uk).
Okay, so putting one at the top of each place setting is likely a logistical (and financial) stretch, but if you want to treat a special someone, it doesn't get much better than the gigantic Jo Malone Ultimate Christmas Cracker, £205, which encases four full-size favourites from the luxury brand (www.jomalone.co.uk).
Small enough to hang on the higher boughs, Burt's Classics Pomegranate Gift Set, £6.99 (www.burtsbees.co.uk), and Mandara's Spa Shimmer Lip Balm Bauble, £4 (www.sainsburys.co.uk), are fashioned in festive red and come with lip-smackingly scented treats inside.
If you're hosting the big family do this year, make your hands and your home presentable with the No7 Star Bauble, £6 (www.boots.com), which contains a Stay Perfect nail polish, or a Heathcote & Ivory Rainforest Hand Treats Bauble, £5 (www.heathcote-ivory.com).
For all-over pampering, pair the fizz on your festive table with a Champagne-inspired Molton Brown Vintage 2015 With Elderflower Festive Bauble, £11, which is filled with sparkling body wash, and then follow it up with a Ted Baker Mini Treasure Bauble, available in Pink or Mint, £4, which conceals a little pot of body souffle (www.boots.com).
And when the entertaining is finally at an end, you can crack open the jumbo Melvita Christmas Treats Bauble, reduced to £11 from £15 (www.melvita.com), to reveal a trio of fragrant fancies, and the Scentered Stress Less Balm Bauble (left), £14.50 - just roll on the chamomile infused scent and relax (www.scentered.me).