We’ve ordered one beautiful box of these extravagant and unusual Christmas crackers and feel extremely pleased with ourselves for doing so. They are hand printed and individually put together by Beggars’ Velvet and each one contains a small gift from the past (complete with description), an epigram (meant to be read aloud), a gold hat, and of course a bang. But oh, they are so much more than the sum of their parts. They have the word Cossack printed on them, which is what Tom Smith of London, the man who invented the Christmas cracker in 1847, christened them, after the Russian soldiers who rode horses while firing bullets into the air, and they do seem like they’ve flown in from another century, though quite which one you won’t know until you pull them, as the gifts range from a 1st Century AD Roman coin to a painted lead die-cast toy solder from 1945. These crackers aren’t cheap and they aren’t for kids (some of the toys contain lead), but they are showstoppers for your Christmas table and they really do come beribboned with bells and tassels. As you might imagine there aren’t too many of them either, and they have been made as a limited edition. If you want to order a box or two (which you can do by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org) do get your skates on. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.