know about ordering GillianCrackers...
What's involved in making a GillianCracker?
cracker we make for you is entirely handmade. We design all
of the activity sheets including most of the puzzles, we print
them and the (hand-cut) jokes as well. And we fold them and
package them along with your pencils, erasers and paper hats.
All the paper hats are hand-cut, glued, refolded, and trimmed
before they are packed into cello packs. We cut all of the paper
used to wrap your cracker - by hand! And all of the ribbon -
thousands upon thousands of pieces every Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Christmas
time. We also print out the puzzle answers and the new "Waiting
for ..." booklets. It's a lot to do and it takes us quite
What is 'customized' about my order?
order is packed to ensure optimal variety for your family. We
try to vary the jokes, the candy, the colour of the hats and
the variety of activity sheets - even the erasers FOR EVERY
SINGLE CRACKER you order. After all, part of the fun of opening
crackers is not only enjoying the contents yourself but in sharing
it all and reading out your joke to everyone else sitting at
your table! We usually make at least 5 differently coloured/patterened
paper hats, print 5 different types of activity sheets for the
Family Classics crackers (though we keep the puzzles the same
on them all for fierce puzzle-solving family competition!) and
usually can provide up 25 different holiday jokes. For orders
over 25, we have had to begin repeating the jokes we included
in your crackers. But... we are working at having a range of
50 different seasonal jokes for 2012 - for really large gatherings
including staff parties.
Why do I need to order so early?
I try to estimate, based on the previous holiday season, how
many crackers we will need to make. Each year we make just about
double the year before and that is what we plan on when ordering
supplies. Many of the goods we need to make your crackers must
be ordered from our suppliers, some as early as June 1st. We
order the snaps from overseas in June and the chocolates from
our suppliers early August (who in turn need to place their
orders with the chocolate makers!). Our cracker tube suppliers
require at least 2 months notice. And then there are the ornaments
which take months to procure from multiple sources. Because
the hats and activity packs take so long to make (remember,
we are making THOUSANDS!) we need to begin making these in spring-time
and need the supplies for all those to be on hand at that time
- so we order in paper, pencils, cello bags, and erasers and
print and cut up all the jokes and make up the activity sheets
- all well in advance of the holidays!
THIS MEANS THREE THINGS:
1) For every customer to get a fresh holiday chocolate and a
snap and an ornament, we need - very early on - to have a pretty
clear idea of how many crackers folks wish to order from us
for the season. Otherwise we run out too early - as happened
this past Christmas season. We completely ran out of ornaments
2 weeks or more before Christmas.
2) We need to begin work MONTHS in advance!
3) We need to pay for the bulk of our supplies and Elf staffing
hours long before we receive any money for the orders you place.
For a custom, hand-made business this is a huge financial undertaking
each June 1st and we depend on the early orders to ensure we
can fund the seasonal start-up on time!
So, I ordered early but my box of crackers didn't arrive until
we truly do try to get all of the Christmas, Solstice and Hanukkah
orders out the first week of Decmeber. Even with all our advance
work, we can't begin filling these crackers until we are done
making/shipping out the crackers for USA Thanksgiving which
is a huge order time for GillianCrackers.GillianCrackers
are NOT made in advance beginning in January as are the majority
of commercial crackers available in the marketplace today. We
do NOT make crackers which sit on the shelves for months waiting
for customers to order them.
Even if we were to pack them in early autumn, the chocolates,
cookies etc., wouldn't be as fresh as they must to qualify for
GillianCrackers. And if we are to continue to offer the widest
possible variety for every order, we need to continue custom-packing
every single order. We have to fill, tie off and ship thousands
of crackers in less than 4 weeks.We begin by shipping to the
areas furthest away from us in places like Texas, Hawaii and
California, then we work on orders for the Easter Seaboard of
the USA, remoter areas of Canada and Alaska. Finally we ship
to more localized regions within Canada. We really do try to
get all the boxes delivered, regardless of locateion, at basically
the same time in the 2 weeks leading up to Christmas.
How can I help you to deliver my box as soon as humanly possible?
Please make sure that your shipping address is
entered wherever, whenever it is requested.
2) Please enter your destination phone number
as well. (USA, UK and European shipping requires this)
3) Please type normally - put capital letters where they are
required & spaces where they are required. Otherwise we
have to retype everything again which not only takes more time
but adds to likliehood of shipping errors.
4) Are you SURE you are requesting the proper
mailing address? Please Check! Every year we have disappointed
customers who have given us incorrect/stale addresses. Please
make sure it is all correct, including your zip and postal codes.
5) If are travelling for the holidays, please
consider having us ship the crackers ahead to your destination.
6) Order EARLY - by August,
Crackers can be ordered beginning July 1st each year.
What are you doing at GillianCrackers to ship more quickly for
the 2012 holidays?
of us want
cliff-hangers where customers are having to run to the post
office at the last moment to pick up their cracker boxes. And,
we can't spare the time during the busy holiday weeks to keep
checking on the progress of hundreds of boxes and answer scores
of customer emails regarding the expected ETA of their orders.
If 250 customers write to us 3 times, that is 750 emails we
need to answer at a time when we are run off our feet! So, here
is what we are trying for 2012...
1) We are switching over directly to Canada Post instead of
using PayPal shipping. We feel this will give our customers
more up-to-date information about whether their parcels have
been shipped and offer direct tracking information. We may continue
to use Paypal as a payment processor only or we may institute
our own... that is yet to be determined.
2) We are going to complete the outside wrap of all the cracker
tubes by mid-September if we receive enough advance orders in
July/August. This will greatly enhance production and free up
time in November and December. However, it also unfortunately
means that we will need to determine by early summer what crackers
will be available for the entire season. Only customers
who order in July and August will be sure of having their
colour / variety choices made available for the holidays. After
that it will be a matter of "while supplies last".
5) What other changes
are planned for 2012?
One pleasant change is to lower the cost of boxes of
5 family crackers! All crackers will be priced at $6.50
each regardless of quantity. Basically the pricing structure
will remain relatively the same. We try to change our pricing
only once every 4 or 5 years to account for rising costs in
items such as chocolate and printing costs. Our next pricing
change will likely be in 2013. We hate to do this but we have
to make the business pay for the costs it incurs.
We know that many of you do not require 10 crackers. Some of
you expect 6 or 7 people at your holiday table - not 10. We
have always encouraged folks to give the extra crackers to visiting
friends and relatives over the holidays. However, we do want
to offer our repeat customrs customized ordering numbers.
It is more expensive for us to ship 7 crackers than 5 - the
cardboard box costs us more as does the additional weight for
shipping and the boxes take longer for us to pack and require
more "fill". We simply can't afford to offset the
costs for our entire mailing list. We have decided however to
offer ordering of individual cracker numbers (over a mininum
of 5 crackers) but only for our customers who order
by August 24th. After that the
special order links we will be uploading for this purpose will
disappear from our website and we will revert to the normal
ordering levels of 5's, 10's, 15's etc.for the remainder of
NEW CRACKER VARIETIES! We plan on some fun
new crackers. We are considering a Techie cracker
for those folks who just love their computers and i-phones and
being 'plugged-in'. At the other end of the spectrum, we are
consdering a truly old-fashioned cracker with
images, games, songs etc from the Victorian/Edwardian eras.
We will be adding music books for sale to our
Christmas Handbell Cracker sections and we will continue also
to link to any websites offering free handbell music for the
8, 13 and 20-note handbell sites. We will continue to develop
our chocolate and charades crackers which were
hugely popular this year. And we will be refreshing our Dickens
line for those folks who would like to reorder them a second
time. An important priority for 2012 we be
to think up a little surprise for our Family Classics
Crackers as we always want to keep these fun and new
for you. Finally we are planning to feature some cities
or events in our planning this year... so there may
be a "New York" cracker, a "Toronto" Cracker
or one for Montreal or Vancouver or perhaps for the Olympics...we
are working on this!. Do you have any new cracker ideas for
us? We try hard to incorporate our customers' ideas - that is
how the charades and handbell crackers came into being! Let