six of the best christmas crackers

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Indy Lifestyle Online
1 Luxury: Smythson, pounds 100 for six Hot orange wrappers stencilled with golden quills, which come in a strong black and gold box that you can keep afterwards. The big bang takes real elbow work but it's worth it for the contents: Smythson's distinctive little leather bound notebooks, key fobs, luggage tags and tiny diaries. Smythson, 44 New Bond Street, London W1Y 0DE (0171-629 8558 for mail order).

2 Economy: Woolworths, pounds 7.99 for six These are easily the best value of the lot. The "Improved Contents" label did not bode well, but the presents are good and surprisingly substantial for the price: perfumed soaps, lipstick holders, earrings and nail clippers. The mottoes are along Trivial Pursuit lines with questions rather than the usual tired old jokes. Call 0171-262 1222 for your nearest branch.

3 DIY: Liberty, pounds 5.95 for four Make-your-own crackers are a great idea for wrapping small presents in. The kit comes with clear instructions, hats, bangers and jokes (What flies and wobbles? - a jellicopter). The only things you need to supply are the presents and cardboard tubes - start saving your loo-rolls now. Perfect for all ageing Blue Peter fans. Call 0171-734 1234 for your nearest branch.

4 Wacky: Party Bomb, Liberty pounds 21.95 Our bomb went off with a rather dull pop but the flames made up for it and the force of the explosion toppled the canister on to the floor. The presents are all wrapped in tissue paper and included bandanas, whoopee cushions, a silk scarf, gliders and water bombs. No mottoes or hats but lots of streamers, glitter and party blowers to keep everyone happy. Liberty: 0171-734 1234.

5 Stylish: Conran Shop, pounds 18.50 for six Lovely wrappers in gold and blue, each one slightly different, and they give a satisfying snap when pulled. Some felt the contents a little too down to earth - a mini whisk, nifty travel toothbrush, and a tiny padlock and key - but in general a far cry from the usual plastic bits and bobs which end up lodged in the dog's throat. The Conran Shop, 81 Fulham Road, SW3 (0171-589 7401).

6 Indulgent: Liberty liqueur crackers, pounds 29.95 for six Beautiful crackers with delicious bottles of liqueur: just what you don't need at the end of an enormous meal, but what the hell? The bottles look as good as their contents taste. Guaranteed to please your guests, just as long as they don't start fighting over who gets the unbelievably delicious Eau de Noix. Liberty: 0171-734 1234.

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