Cape Town - Let’s face it – despite knowing that we are likely to end up with an el cheapo plastic ring from the Christmas cracker, there is still a child-like anticipation that keeps us hoping we will end up with a really fantastic surprise gift.
At this time of year, Christmas crackers can be found in just about every store, with mini versions for children and large crackers for adults.
A simple test of some of the crackers available to consumers gives you some idea of where you get more bang for your buck.
Most of the packaging gives the shopper a good idea of what they’d find inside, which will definitely help with your decision as to what kind of surprise presents will best suit your guests.Of course, the more expensive the box of crackers, the better the items. Such was the case at Woolworths, where for R225 for a box of six crackers (available online too), you could expect to find LED torches, an “expensive” pen, silver earrings, or a little tape measure.
However, if your pockets aren’t that deep this Christmas, and you have to buy the less expensive crackers, don’t expect much more than some marbles and maybe scary teeth, at best.
Although with a rough budget of around R100 for a box of middle-of-the-range crackers at each store, some did not have that price range, so we used our discretion.
We bought crackers at Woolworths and Pick n Pay, Spar and Checkers, and rated them on a scale of one to five – on appearance, value for money, quality of trinkets and, of course, the bang.
Celebration Crackers at R99.95 for a pack of six, although if you use your Woolies card, you get a R19.99 discount.
Description: There was a range of Woolies in-house brand crackers on sale, with the luxury crackers quite pricey. The crackers in the box we bought were decorated in bright colours and stars – not very Christmassy, so this could work at any function. The packaging tells you what is inside – monster slime, moustache, bag of marbles, magic wire trick, bending pencil and magic ball trick were the contents, with a party hat and joke or quote. Not bad for Woolies, and could appeal to adults and children alike. The crackers felt heavy and had quite a loud bang.
Pick n Pay
There was not much variety available, and all the crackers were made under Glenart Trading, with a note saying the crackers were made in South Africa, but that the contents are from China.
R59 for a pack of nine crackers.
Description: The box tells you what you will find inside – a magic cloth trick, magic wire trick, magic ball trick, smiling face stickers, mini scissors, bottle opener, vampire teeth and bouncy ball, and a party hat and funny jokes.
The bang was good, and the crackers were wrapped in red and green Christmas scenes.
This was good value for money as there were nine in a box for less than R60, and the magic tricks would be fun for a party or around a dinner table.
The contents also appeal to adults and children alike.
R49.99 for a box of six. We couldn’t find anything more expensive.
Description: Once again, the contents in the crackers were made known at the back of the packaging, and from what we saw it looked good. You could hope to find anything from a pen, to nail clippers, tweezers, paper clips, cards or a yoyo. Not bad either. In bright red, white and silver packaging, the crackers would work well on a Christmas dinner table. The bang was okay, and the tweezers looked like they would work well, not just as a toy.
Finding the Christmas stuff at this Spar was challenging, and the crackers were located on a high shelf, with just one option.
R49.99 for a box of six.
Description: This would be the party pack to buy if you are in a group. The Spar Merry Moments party pack comes with six crackers, each with a surprise toy and a joke. Included in the box are six streamers, hats, blowouts and party poppers. The outside packaging does not tell you what you could find in the crackers. Sadly, there was no bang – they literally just tore apart. The contents were all miniature toys – a cheap small car, a plastic ring, a tiny rubber ball, an 8cm ruler, and a small toy purple thing that could pass either as a turtle or a frog – we couldn’t make out which.
Rating: 2 – only because it had streamers. - Weekend Argus