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Stylish Christmas Crackers

Gold Berry Crackers at Cox and Cox

A tradition in my family is to put Christmas crackers on the dinner table. But lately, the challenge has been to find ones with gifts that will not be thrown away immediately after the dinner. It seems that even the upscale North-American stores gave up on producing worthwhile versions. I am sad about that fact. We inherited this tradition from Britain.

Therefore, I looked across the Atlantic to see if we can still find chic and wonderful Christmas crackers in UK. I found lots of options down there. Maybe next year, I would see if I can order online mine from UK. Let’s look at my favorites.

Cox and Cox

musical crackers at cox and cox

This UK catalog store continues to impress me. Their Christmas crackers concentrate on providing entertaining for your guests. Cox and Cox sells 3 models of Christmas crackers this year, including the Musical Crackers. Each handmade Gold Berry Cracker contains a chocolate and charade to be played as a party game.

Fortnum & Mason

luxury christmas crackers by fortnum and mason

Founded in 1707, this upscale retailer is the specialist of luxury Christmas crackers. At £100 for a pack of 6, their Classic Christmas Crackers package contains the traditional paper hat, an entertaining scroll, a satisfying snap and silver-plated gifts such as a coffee scoop, wine pourer, wine stopper, salt & pepper shakers, magnifier with chain and mirror compact.

It is not only for the rich and famous. You can find more affordable options at Fortnum & Mason, like the Saucer Crackers at £8.50 for a box of 6.


christmas crackers by highgrove

This a shop of the Prince’s Charities of which The Prince of Wales is President. Profits goes to the foundation. They sell individual luxury Christmas crackers presented in a nice gift box. Each luxury Christmas cracker contains 10 Organic Champagne Truffles, a joke, an inspiring comment and a traditional Christmas hat. For a party, opt for the 6-pack where each cracker  contains a hand embroidered mini decoration, one Organic Champagne Truffle, a joke, an inspiring comment and a traditional Christmas hat. This is what I call a treat. Unfortunately, they will not ship outside the EU.

Fill Your Own Christmas Crackers

fill your own christmas crackers by classic crackers

The most sensible idea is definitively the Fill your Own Crackers from Classic Crackers. They handmade the crackers for you. All you need to do is to buy gifts that fits in to the tube. They leave one end open for you to drop in your gifts. Close the end with the ribbon that comes with the Fill Your Own Christmas cracker.

Know that if you wish to make your own crackers from scratch, you need cracker snaps to get the bang. Classic Crackers sell them but at this time, they are out of stock.

A Montreal Maker

christmas crackers by walpert industries

Jane Van der Voort, who set up the live chat that I gave yesterday on The Toronto Star, wrote an excellent article on Christmas crackers. From her, I discovered that Walpert Industries, here in Montreal has been making Christmas crackers since the 1960s. You will find the 2009 collection on Walpert’s Web site. But sadly, their site does not elaborate on what is inside their Christmas crackers and it fails to give us a list of retailers. At least, thanks to Jane’s article, I discovered that the Rudolph their Red-Nosed Reindeer Crackers (not shown) are available at Walmart.

+ Musical Crackers £12 for pack of 8
+ Gold Berry Crackers £12 for pack of 6
+ Christmas Crackers at Fortnum & Mason £8.50 to £500
+ Luxury Silver Cracker by Highgrove on sale at £14.95
+ Luxury Christmas Crackers on sale at £39.95 for pack of 6
+ Fill Your Own Christmas Cracker £2 each
+ Walpert Industries


A Holiday Countdown Calendar

holiday food and tableware as advent goodies

Brands often send me samples. Some of which I will talk to you while others do not make the cut of my editorial for various reasons. One thing that I like is when brands put the time to develop an original concept. I think this one is fun.

For introducing their new line of products this holiday, President’s Choice sent me a Christmas box filled with 25 PC prezzies which are my treats for the countdown until Christmas. I made the right call when I ask them for a delivery at my home instead of the office. And I was glad that my husband was there to pick up the 24-inch tall Christmas pattern box.

The Goodies, so far

To follow the advent calendar tradition, I will open one goodie every day. The goodie for December 1 was the new PC Mulled Apple Sparkling Soda that contains flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. President’s Choice markets it as a soda inspired by the warm mulled cider.

This reminds me that it is important to provide non-alcoholic drinks during the holiday. You could develop a virgin punch for greeting children or guests who do not drink. After all, they can also have their signature drink.

President’s Choice is not just food. Today, the goodie was a cake server from the PC Home Collection Cruise flatware. Every hostess needs a few cake servers. Just take a typical Holiday pot luck party for a big family, you will need a couple cake servers for the service of the meat pies, and more for the sweet pies and cakes. For stress-free entertaining, you plan your party so you do not need to do the dishes between courses. The Cruise cake server they gave me has a simple modern design. It is sturdy and dishwasher safe. I will put it on my table.

Tourtiere recipes

serving tourtiere on chirstmas eve :: the french-canadian way

If you are interested in serving the meat pie that French-Canadians traditionally served at Christmas Eve, I got for you two recipes:

+ Tourtiere, a Quebec specialty – Meat Pie recipe on Chowhound
+ A tested Tourtiere recipe on Canadian living

Come back for more of my holiday entertaining tips.


Old-Fashioned Treats for the Holidays

roasting chestnut pan at cox and cox

Let’s face it, most holiday parties can be resumed in two actions: eating and talking. there old-fashioned treats provides the perfect setting to do both. They are like by adults and kids. I am talking about roasting chestnuts. Here are a few tools that you need if you plan to roast your chestnuts over an open flame.

paderno roasting chestnut pan at amazon

+ Chestnut Roasting Pan £15
+ Paderno Black Carbon Steel 11 Inch Chestnut Pan $19.99 USD
+ Paderno Chestnut Roasting Pan with extra long handle $24.95 USD
+ LamsonSharp Pro 32425 Chestnut Knife $11.99 USD

Another good treat are serving whole walnut or for the kids toasting crumpets, marshmallows or toast over an open fire. At that price, they make unique affordable hostess gifts.

old-fashioned food around the fireplace

+ Walnut Key £6
+ Extended Toasting Fork £6


Let’s Eat Exhibit at Chateau Ramezay Museum

quebec traditional food let\'s eat exhibit at chateau ramezay

Until November 2010, you could learn about the traditional food of Quebec from the first colonists to today in an exhibit that just started at Chateau Ramezay Museum.

Quebec traditional food was influenced by three cultures: the first nations, France and Britain. But what is the heritage of each? Quebec traditional shepherd’s pie main ingredients blended the 3 cultures. Plus, it will be fun to learn how traditions were born. For example, I would have never guess that  the famous sugar shack meal comes straight out of British kitchens. Beside recipes, Let’s Eat explores all facets of cooking and eating. You will see how we preserve food over the years, how we prepared food and served the meals, and how dining etiquette and customs changed over time.

The associate researcher for the exhibit is Yvon Deslogues, an historian who juts published a book about food habits in Quebec before restaurants. You can find A table en Nouvelle-France on ($25.74 CAD) and in most bookstores across Quebec.

+ Let’s Eat exhibit at Chateau Ramezay Museum
+ via Katerine Rollet’s Epicurean Life