Let’s talk turkeys. Racing turkeys.
When all the family is gathered around the table at Christmas, it’s an absolute given that there will be Christmas crackers, but there’s no reason for the contents to be run-of-the-mill…
Because we’re crackers about Christmas, we spend all year thinking about it. Almost as soon as one Christmas is over, our in-house ‘elves’ are thinking of ideas for the next one. We thought you might like to know how we come up with the lovely products that you see in our range every Christmas, so grab a mince pie and an egg nog, get comfy and we’ll tell you a little bit about how our Racing Turkey Crackers came to be.
Every Christmas you’ve snapped up our fun sets of crackers with little racing characters to help break the ice at your festive feast and get everyone laughing together. We want our crackers to keep the smiles coming and be completely unique, so when it comes to ideas, our Buyers don’t simply pick something ‘off the shelf’ – the ideas come from the imagination of our incredibly passionate in-house design team, especially for Lakeland customers.
We sat down and talked turkeys with our in-house designer Laura, from her very first sketch, to the final product. Way back at the end of 2016, she and our Seasonal Buyer Lyndsey began to discuss fresh new ideas for our racing crackers… Reindeers, penguins, sprouts and robins have all raced in previous years, but we like to surprise our customers and Laura was briefed to come up with a brand new idea for 2017. Laura sketched Santa, angels, mince pies and half a dozen more before settling on turkeys. We’ve never seen racing turkey crackers before, so they fit the bill perfectly. And why should the roast be the only turkey on the table?
Once they’d decided on turkeys, Lyndsey asked that Laura’s designs be fun, engaging, and that the game would be something people would really want to play, this Christmas and others to come. Laura got out her favourite blue sketching pencil and hand-drew a selection of cute creatures, exploring lots of different styles and shapes and getting her ideas down on paper to give Lyndsey plenty of options. Laura thought her first stages were quite rough (she’s a perfectionist – we thought they were fab!), but when she’d chosen the best initial sketch, she progressed it further, moving to development sketches then digital sketches. Laura wanted the turkey to be perfect – she’s so passionate and considered every single aspect and little detail to deliver Lyndsey’s vision for a truly adorable turkey.
Lyndsey took the refined design drawing to our Buying selection team – there’s a whole group of people who have to give a product the thumbs up before we go ahead – and the turkey was the talk of the table! The next step was to send the image to our manufacturer to mock up a prototype. From the initial 3D print we saw 3 or 4 different samples before we got our perfect model which Lorna – our Seasonal Assistant Buyer – deemed good enough for our customers.
The board and trophy
Equally as important as the turkeys, the racing game board had to be ‘just right’. Laura wanted her design to set the scene for the race, as well as to encourage a little Christmassy competitiveness… Laura set to work on her arena-inspired design, hand-sketching every aspect, from the snowflakes and lanes, to a selection of images beyond the finishing line. It’s only right that the fastest turkeys get to gloat a bit, so Laura’s final design incorporated podiums for the top three birds, and a prize for the poultry on the top spot.
When deciding on the prize, Laura drew stickers and badges and rosettes, before deciding that a 3D trophy was much more desirable. A traditional design was mocked up before Lyndsey and Laura finally settled on the winner’s reward – a golden 3D turkey trophy, sure to be coveted by all Christmas competitors!
The novelty contents of our racing turkey crackers are, of course, extremely important, but how the cracker itself looks needed really careful consideration too. The contents may be fun and frivolous, but – thinking about the type of table settings and decorations our customers might have – Lyndsey asked that the outside of the cracker was classic and elegant, with just a gentle nod to the novelties inside. Laura discounted her glittery, multi-coloured ideas and, working with a local design agency, presented Lyndsey with an elegant red and gold colour combination. Lyndsey and Lorna selected a finish that is not too shiny and not too matte – the crackers have a subtle, sophisticated sheen and are trimmed with a red ribbon so they’ll look fab at any table setting.
All in the detail
A cracker just isn’t complete without a snap, hat and a joke – and even these are meticulously considered. Lorna will have pulled snaps, tested the jokes out on her colleagues, raced the turkeys for miles and modelled more than a few hats before they made the cut! Lorna and Lyndsey saw various development samples and would say ‘we love it, but can you just…’ requesting little tweaks and refinements to make it the best we could possibly offer to our customers.
Until our chat with Laura, even we didn’t realise just how much thought, time and care goes into every single component! She, Lyndsey and Lorna are all so enthusiastic about making a unique, memorable, quality product for our customers that there isn’t anything that’s overlooked. Between them, they painstakingly look over every inch – right down to the labels on the packaging – so that when it all comes together, the result is something extraordinary. It’s an in-house team effort – a true ‘Lakeland’ product.
Laura is – rightly – really proud of how the racing turkey crackers turned out. She originally came to Lakeland for a five-month university placement and was amazed at how incredibly passionate everyone was, with a shared goal to create exciting ideas for our customers. She went on to be awarded First Class Honours in her Design for Industry degree (well done Laura!), and said she’d learned so much at Lakeland that she was sure it had helped her achieve such an amazing result.
It’s not just our racing turkey crackers that receive so much of our attention though – every item we design goes through the same process until we’re really happy, as well as being tested, tested and tested again once we have a sample. Laura loves seeing the designs she visualised come to life, and in any one day, could be working on useful nylon kitchen utensils in the morning, space-saving under-sink organisers after lunch, and prints for storage totes in the afternoon… All of our products start with the spark of an idea, and we just can’t wait to see what our clever Buying Team come up with next!