The definitive ranking of Christmas cracker presents

Cracker doesn't necessarily mean cracking...

Christmas cracker feature

It's nearly Christmas. That means that, as we speak, millions of people around the country will be flooding into supermarkets and getting their filthy mitts all over boxes of Christmas crackers, thinking briefly about getting posh ones then opting instead for the packet of 80 that costs less than a pint of milk. Good times.

As we all know, Christmas cracker gifts can be pretty crap. It's time that they were definitively ranked from worst to best, so that on The Big Day you know exactly how to feel when you've peered inside your exploded cracker and fished out its insides. Here we rank each of the infamous Christmas cracker presents out of 20, looking for an ideal 10 points on 'Christmas fun' and 10 on 'Utility'.

How does YOUR favourite score?

20. Plastic moustache

OK. How are these supposed to work, exactly? Because they seem painful, shit, and too small for the face of any human. What convinced some maniac that those stupid little antennae would magically attach themselves to the inside of someone's nostrils? Had this cretin ever met anyone and looked at their face before? Totally pointless toy. Get one of these and you're basically saddled with a goth butterfly.

Christmas fun: 1
Utility: -2
Total: -1

19. Golf tees

Look, the presents have to be useful when you actually receive them. Even if you decide to have a cheeky round of golf around the table on Christmas Day, any fool will be able to tell you that you do not need a tee in a kitchen. YOU CANNOT EMBED A TEE INTO LINO.

If you don't play golf, these are worse than useless, they're an insult. If you do, then fair enough, the next time you play golf you'll have three new tees that snap as soon as you use them. Great.

Christmas fun: 0
Utility: 2
Total: 2

18. Mini protractor

"You know what everyone loves doing around the Christmas table?" says the cracker manufacturer in his huge house, stroking his rich, warty chin. "MATHS. Give them MATHS. Give them things pertaining to maths, and things that will enable them to do maths. Christmaths."
"But-"
"CHRISTMATHS. CHRISTMATHS! CHRISTMATHS!"

Christmas fun: 0
Utility: 3
Total: 3

17. Crap jewellery

Right, fair enough. These are amusing. Slightly amusing. All right, they're not that amusing. They're good for about six minutes of fun, at which point you realise that no one with any sense would pop one of these onto their finger if anyone else could see them. That means that they're basically inedible Hula Hoops that you plop onto your finger and then lob into a bin.

Christmas fun: 3
Utility: 1
Total: 4

16. Marbles

Marbles are pretty inoffensive, sure. No one's ever gone to war over a marble. Nobody ever got into a fight over whether or not their marble looked like Phil Collins. They're good fun, marbles. Good guys. But in these days of 3D printers and Nicki Minaj, they're pretty useless, aren't they. Don't deny it. What would you use one for? Trying to get the attention of a crush late at night by pelting their window? Trying to outdo a rival by showing them how many you can fit in your nose? No; if the 21st century has taught us anything, it is that marbles must now be declared defunct.

Of course, the ultimate low point of opening up a cracker to be greeted by marbles is that one of your relatives will make a "Oop - you've lost your marbles" joke and you'll be forced to punch them in the face.

Christmas fun: 4
Utility: 1
Total: 5

15. Pencil sharpener

If you've got a pencil, this guy is just what you need. If you've not got a pencil, it can do nothing for you, unless you like slipping your little finger into a hole over and over again.

Christmas fun: 0
Utility: 6
Total: 6

14. Mystery calculator

Fair play to the mystery calculator - it's actually quite impressive. If you want to wow your wife/parents/friends/parrot, then the mystery calculator is a pretty good go-to cracker gift. But once you know how it works (and pretty much everyone does), it's in danger of being a bit of a limp fish. And the packaging's quite confused, look at it - it thinks it's got something to do with cards. It has nothing to do with cards.

The mystery calculator is good fun for a little bit of a laugh, but, like using a sex toy, it might leave you feeling more lonely than when you were to begin with.

Christmas fun: 6
Utility: 1
Total: 7

13. Coloured pencils

Great fun, these. Great, cracking fun. Just get a piece of paper and draw whatever you like all over it! Write rude words, draw your auntie, draw rude words all over your auntie - top-class fun with these little guys. Also - slip one in your pocket, and who knows? Maybe you'll have cause to lend someone a pencil in an emergency. Perhaps you'll be forced to perform a tracheotomy on a nun. You have to be prepared. Life can be challenging.

Christmas fun: 5
Utility: 3
Total: 8

12. Mini yo-yo

Yo yo yo, Mr yo-yo is in the house. Can any of you think of anything more fun than a yo-yo? You can?? Well, good luck convincing me! I'll be over here in the corner doing The Sleeper with my yo-yo, suckas.

No but seriously.

Of course we cannot ignore the fact that a cracker, unless it is enormous, cannot accommodate a regular-sized yo-yo. And therefore, as the saying goes, a mini yo-yo is great, sure, but it could do with being a bit bigger. Sure, I'll admit that. But come on - it's better than having no yo-yo at all, yo. Wanna show off to your friends? Wanna impress a girl? Whip out your yo-yo and show her how to Rock the Baby.

Christmas fun: 7
Utility: 2
Total: 9

11. Giant paperclip

You bang that cracker open and OMG, you're face-to-face with a big green old paperclip. What's your reaction? Disappointment, right?

Wrong.

Wrong.

Granted, you won't exactly be talking and giggling about the paperclip for the next couple of hours around the table, but if you've got a hefty load of documents that need to be told what to do, slip that big boy friend over them and Bob's your paperclip. They will not budge. The paperclip will have got them in its vice-like grip. SORTED.

Christmas fun: 0
Utility: 9
Total: 9

10. Mini playing cards

It's a rare gift that can be enjoyed equally by Grandma at 90 years old and Little Jake at 4 years old (Little Jake is the dog). Mini playing cards are that gift!!!

There's no doubt that upon noticing you've been lucky enough to nab the playing cards in the Christmas cracker lottery, you'll have a grin plastered over your stupid little face. Now you can while away the fat, heavy hours of your Christmas afternoon with a game of poker, whist, or cribbage, involving as many or as few people as you please. Maybe you could even make things a bit more interesting by getting money involved? Best not to tell Uncle Stan, though. He's still in recovery. And he's doing surprisingly well, given how bad things were in 2009.

Christmas fun: 7
Utility: 3
Total: 10

9. Jeweller's screwdriver

There is virtually no scrape a jeweller's screwdriver couldn't get you out of, and it therefore absolutely must score very highly on the Utility front. If you need to dislodge a particularly wobbly tooth, just whip out your jeweller's screwdriver from your top pocket and Bob's your dentist. If you've lost your keys and you need to puncture a balloon to alert someone nearby, the jeweller's screwdriver can come to your aid. If you've lost your carving knife and you're fine with looking like a goon, stab that goose with your best friend, the jeweller's screwdriver. It is difficult to believe this level of practicality could be found within a humble cracker. But there's a catch...

The jeweller's screwdriver is not much fun at all, let's be honest. It's pretty depressing. You wouldn't take it to a kids' party. But a yo-yo in one hand and a jeweller's screwdriver in the other-?! Could you imagine a better afternoon? Answer: you could not.

Christmas fun: 1
Utility: 9
Total: 10

8. Hopping frog

This cheeky chap didn't think he'd be coming in at eighth place - he couldn't be happier, the little scamp!

It's so easy to underestimate the fun you can have with a two-inch frog. He might not look like much, but this guy will never get tired (he's not an actual frog), nor will his batteries ever need charging. He is living proof (he's not living) that you don't need a PlayStation or a new hovercraft to have a ruddy good laugh on Christmas Day. Good on him. If only there were more gifts like the hopping frog. Maybe then there'd be less war.

Christmas fun: 9
Utility: 1
Total: 10

7. Tape measure

Is there anything that can't be resolved with a bit of measuring tape? Yes, lots of things, but measuring isn't one of them - and that's where the measuring tape comes in handy.

However digital our world is getting, you cannot measure the circumference of your head with Candy Crush or a robot car. A tape measure will always come in handy for fiddly little jobs like these, or odd little jobs like finding out how long your penis is. The measuring tape isn't responsible for the disappointing results, but it is able to provide a perfectly accurate answer to any of your measuring-centric needs. Bliss. Absolute bliss. And good for slapping people with at the dinner table. "Uncle Jeff! Get your big fat hands off the mint sauce!" That kind of thing.

Christmas fun: 1
Utility: 10
Total: 11

6. Metal wire puzzle

Why not? Why the hell not? Why not play with a metal wire puzzle on Christmas Day? It's Christmas Day, for goodness sake! Let your hair down - solve that puzzle!

I know what you're thinking: er, why's it scored so highly on Utility? It's a freaking puzzle. A puzzle ain't useful to no one. Yeah, well, think about it for one second and maybe you'll get it.

...That's right - it grows your brain cells. Once you know your way master a puzzle like this, neurosurgery is just a hop, skimp, and a jump away. Pffft - and they said education couldn't be fun!

Christmas fun: 8
Utility: 3
Total: 11

5. Fortune-telling fish

Sure, it's a fish, but it also tells your fortune. That's what sets the fortune-telling fish apart from your bog-standard haddock. According to how the fish positions its gorgeous body on your outstretched hand, you will discover that you are one of a number of things: jealous; passionate; vegetarian; adopted. Maybe you're jealous of an passionate adopted vegetarian. The fish will tell you.

Because it's telling you secrets you never knew about yourself, the fish is a bit of a crowd-pleaser: the whole table will crowd around, demanding the use of your fish. This gift therefore scores quite highly on both scales. Scales. Geddit. Scales?

Christmas fun: 7
Utility: 5
Total: 12

4. Mini nail clippers

These are ideal if you have the strange tiny hands of a shrew, but they're not too shabby if you've got normal hands either. Nail's too long? Get the old nail clippers out - snip snip, job done. Blow on them like you would a gun, then slip 'em back into your special moleskine nail clippers pouch. Smooth.

Another point in their favour: Christmas is a time at which a lot of stressful chopping and snipping needs to be done. I'm talking presents. I'm talking decorations. I'm talking haircuts. As soon as someone knows you've got your mini nail clippers lurking in your moleskine pouch, they'll cheer up and before you know it, you'll be laughing until the tears are running down your face and into your huge Christmas socks.

Christmas fun: 3
Utility: 9
Total: 12

3. Bottle opener

Think back to the last time you saved the day with a bottle opener. You won't need to think very hard at all - it was probably today, wasn't it? For this reason the bottle opener at the bottom of your Christmas cracker could hardly score more highly on Utility.

Sure, it could be more aesthetically pleasing, or have more flashing parts, or be voiced by Patricia Hodge, but the fact that the bottle opener facilitates Christmas fun is reason enough to grant it the coveted fourth spot this year. It's a well-deserved win, and a popular winner.

Christmas fun: 3
Utility: 10
Total: 13

2. Mini water pistol

Fill this baby up with gravy - turn your Christmas dinner into an hour of wet, absolutely hilarious, brown carnage. Joyous!

Fill it up with H2O and provide your houseplants with the water they so desperately crave in order to live. Practical!

Christmas fun: 8
Utility: 5
Total: 13

1. Spinning top

You spin me right round, baby, right round
Like a record, baby
Right round, round, round.

I, I got to be your friend now, baby
And I would like to move in
Just a little bit closer (little bit closer).

All I know is that to me
You look like you're lots of fun
Open up your lovin' arms
Watch out, here I come.

[REPEAT CHORUS]

Ladies and gentlemen, our undisputed champion! The spinning top could be more useful, but it absolutely could not be more fun. I don't know about you, but I could just pop that track on and sit spinning my spinning top all day, smiling to myself as though I'd won the lottery. You can't buy those kinds of memories.*

Christmas fun: 10
Utility: 4
Total: 14

* You do have to buy the crackers to get the cracker gifts. This applies to all of the gifts in this list.

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