Christmas crackers were never really a big thing in our family, although my dad's British and they're holiday fixtures in the UK.
Word is they – the crackers, not my dad – had their origins in the mid 1800s, dreamt up by a London-based confectioner who had been inspired by little paper-wrapped French bon-bons. (The French have always known what's up.) His sons apparently further developed the idea after they took over the business, adding themes, little jokes, paper hats or crowns and a variety of trinkets, and the concept took off.
Not that we didn't like them as kids – I still get a kick out of the bang when you pull one apart. But for obvious reasons, I didn't really like them until the beauty industry got hands on the idea some years back. I don't know about you, but I don't have much use for a paper crown, lame joke and – actually, I can't remember what token was in any of the crackers I've ever pulled apart. But crackers with a mini lipstick or wee mascara or travel-size skincare item – sign me up!
Why it's only just this minute occurred to me that I should make some myself is beyond me. They're quite simple to construct, especially with a handy DIY kit sourced from amazon.ca and all the wee product samples acquired with each Sephora order...
But if you're not a DIY type (I'm not really, but this is a satisfyingly precise how-to, and there's this no-bang super-easy version as well), there seems to be more available in the beauty cracker category this year...
the body shop christmas cracker set 2018
The Body Shop Hand Cream Christmas Cracker set includes six 30-mL light lotions in Mango, British Rose, Shea, Moringa, Strawberry and Pink Grapefruit ($40 CAD and $30 USD at thebodyshop.com).
clarins christmas cracker 2018
This year's Clarins Christmas Cracker includes a mini Clarins Supra Volume mascara and Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector ($16 CAD at thebay.com).
invisibobble christmas cracker 2018
Three of these handy little Invisibobble hair ties usually retails in a set for $10 CAD; this Christmas cracker with nine of them is an excellent value especially because it's on sale at well.ca right now ($17.57 CAD at well.ca). Actually, I don't think this is really a Christmas cracker per se – I think it's just cracker-inspired packaging. But if you know someone who loves the Invisibobble Slim, this is the time to buy it because the price for this limited-edition set is around $22.
jo malone christmas cracker 2018
Jo Malone makes such lovely things that really elevate the Christmas cracker concept – and price. This year's model offers a 9mL Red Roses Cologne, 15 mL English Oak & Redcurrant Body and Hand Wash, and a 15 mL Lime Basil & Mandarin Body Creme ($55 CAD and $48 USD at sephora.com).
l'occitane christmas crackers 2018
This year's L'Occitane en Provence Christmas crackers set includes four crackers and shower gel + hand cream duos as per the above image: Relaxing Shower Gel + Lavender Hand Cream, Shea Body Shower Oil + Shea Dry Skin Hand Cream, Almond Shower Oil + Amande Hand Cream, and Cherry Blossom Bath & Shower Gel + Cherry Blossom Hand Cream ($34 for a set of four at sephora.com).
lanolips coconutter cracker 2018
If you're still looking for your holy-grail lip balm, it's here. Well, somewhere in the Lanolips lineup – my fave is the OG 101 ointment. But Coconutter is Lanolips newest scent in Canada, so the Coconutter cracker has a 101 Ointment that works on lips as well as anywhere else you have stubborn dry patches that need assistance, and a Hand Cream Intense ($19 CAD at sephora.com and $19 USD at nordstrom.com).
By the way, unless you're allergic to wool, you shouldn't have to worry about a reaction to medical-grade lanolin because it's been through such a thorough purification process that it's safe for use on patients in hospitals. Lanolips lanolin has been through that process and more: unlike the medical-grade stuff you can buy in a tub, Lanolip's lanolin is a translucent white, completely free of lanolin's natural yellow colour, and entirely free of its natural nose-wrinkling odour. It's also smoother and less sticky.
marc jacobs christmas cracker 2018
Marc Jacobs has more than one Christmas cracker version available right now; this Anything Go-Gos ($26 CAD and $20 USD at sephora.com), with a mini Velvet Noir Major Volume mascara in Noir and mini Le Marc Lip Crème in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, is the most recent release. Other options pair a black liquid liner with mascara, and the same mascara with lipstick shade Slow Burn.
omorovicza christmas crackers 2018
Clever Omorovicza has upped their Christmas cracker game. This year you can choose the two deluxe size products (out of seven options) to have put in your recipient's Omorovicza cracker ($32 USD at omorovicza.com). Wonder how long it'll take for that spin to catch on with all the other brands?
quo cosmetics christmas crackers 2018
Quo Cosmetics, the Shoppers Drug Mart makeup brand, has offered Christmas crackers ($15 CAD for a set of 6 at Shoppers Drug Mart stores) each holiday season for the last few years. This year you can get them in rose gold or in black; contents feature a pretty mini lip gloss as per the above image.
sephora christmas crackers 2018
Sephora's got a couple of Christmas cracker variations, one with makeup and one with skincare. Midnight Skincare Surprise ($13 CAD and $10 USD at sephora.com) includes cruelty-free eye, nose and face masks as well as an almond hand balm. The Glowy Surprise Face and Lip Kit Popper features a blush stick, luminizer stick and lip stain and retails for a few dollars more.
ysl christmas cracker 2018
I think this is the first time I've seen Christmas crackers from YSL – did they have them last year? Built around fragrance, two feature Mon Paris and two feature Black Opium; one each of those is a "beauty" cracker that includes mascara, lipstick and a skincare item. Above is the Black Opium Beauty Christmas cracker ($58 CAD at sephora.com), which includes mascara, lipstick, mini fragrance and a tube of Top Secrets Natural Action exfoliant – overall rather a nice way to give someone a fancy lipstick and mascara with a purse-sized bottle of their favourite scent. (I was tempted by this one and the Mon Paris Beauty cracker too, except neither of these fragrances play nice with my body chemistry. 😞)
Really these cracker items – like advent calendars and monthly subscription boxes – are just another cute way to market sample (aka "deluxe") sizes. They're less time-sensitive than advent calendars (which I'd wait to open in January because, let's face it, they're really about indulgence, not about Advent at all anyway), and for the most part less expensive depending on the brand.
What's your stance on beauty Christmas crackers? Are crackers a holiday tradition in your family? Have you ever made them yourself? #nextyearImtotallygonna
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