There is a seasonal tradition in the UK and Commonwealth countries that seems truly alien according to some ODeckers. But if you can’t unshackle those puritan misconceptions and laugh a little at this time of year, then there’s no hope for the world. Nothing is so guaranteed to bond friends and family as the crass commercialism and the crafty craziness of the Christmas Cracker.

Euphemisms about the Doctor pulling a cracker aside, the Christmas Cracker or bon-bon covers a multitude of sins. The bog standard cracker is a gaudy coloured tube, twisted either end like a wrapped sweet. Revellers take hold of one end and pull. There should be a slight bang when a strip of cap paper running through the middle breaks apart. One person will be left with the main tube, usually containing a paper party hat/crown, a plastic novelty and a slip of paper with a terrible joke.

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The quality of crackers can vary drastically from cheap and nasty to expensive and nasty. It’s the kind of novelty that will keep consumer watchdogs busy for months after the festivities have ended. But they can also add a little sparkle amongst the brussel sprouts and plum pudding.

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Crackers can also provide the kind of merchandise that sets you back a limb or so if the collector’s bug get’s under your skin. Vintage cracker sets for Frozen, Star Wars, Star Trek TNG, Harry Potter and Doctor Who will all set you back a pretty penny. Or there are specialised packs such as a canine themed set for Dogs Trust or a selection of spirits from Drinks by the Dram to keep dipso doctors satisfied.

You pay your money and take your choice.

Alison Cork’s YouTube guide shows a simple method of making your own Christmas Crackers (others are available) and Amazon, Etsy, Ebay and Hobbycraft all have kits with suitable materials.

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Don’t forget the jokes ...