Fireworks Guide: Selection Boxes

Varied selections of usually smaller items to suit all budgets.

Key information

  • These boxes contain multiple smaller fireworks including fountains and roman candles.
  • Contents are taken out and fired one by one.
  • Widely available and promoted by supermarkets and other non-specialist firework sellers.
  • Emphasis in cheaper boxes is quantity rather than quality.
  • Safety distances typically 8m up to 25m. No licence or training required to buy and use at any time of the year.
  • Smaller boxes are unsuitable for bigger displays but great for beginners, smaller gardens or testing the water with toddlers.
  • Guides to other types of fireworks can be found in the Firework Guides main menu.

A typical smaller selection box

Selection boxes vary tremendously in terms of price, size, contents and quality. 

At the lower end of the scale, the types of boxes usually pushed by supermarkets tend to be sold on a “perceived value” basis; the fact they contain a great number of fireworks appeals to the layperson who might rarely buy fireworks and knows little about the subject. Thus a box with a large amount of items in seems like great value. In truth, each of these items is likely to be very small and some of them quite underwhelming.

The box above, for example, has an RRP of £10 at the time of writing and contains 14 fireworks which sounds like great value. However with an overall gunpowder content of 89g, that’s an average of 6.4g per firework. To put that into context, a single £10 cake could have up to 100g of gunpowder in just the one item and a pack of sparklers typically contains around 5g.

At the higher end of the scale, specialist firework shops are more likely to sell selection boxes where the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity. Here there will be less number of items but they will be bigger and better quality. Brands such as Jonathans, Kimbolton and Zeus have reputations for producing better boxes.

What type of effects to expect

Smaller boxes will have an emphasis on fountains. These create plumes of sparks like a volcano. Expect durations of 10 seconds or so for each item in the box.

Some boxes contain small roman candles which might shoot small coloured stars or crackles. Cakes and barrages in smaller boxes tend to be limited to just a few shots.

Wheels and rockets might also be found in some of the larger boxes but aren’t usually included in the smaller ones. Sparklers though tend to be sold separately.

With larger boxes you will find a broader range of firework types including fountains, barrages, rockets and roman candles.

The contents of the £10 box pictured above. 12 small fountains and 2 small roman candles. Note the Lego figure for scale!

How much do they cost?

Supermarkets sell a vast number of these so expect keen pricing and lots of special offers. It’s not impossible to pick up a very small box for under £10. From there, prices can go up to over £100 for increasingly bigger boxes.

Note: Fireworks have risen in price substantially since the pandemic, fuelled by massive increases in shipping costs from China. The knock-on effect will either be the end of cheaper boxes as featured here, or less gunpowder and contents for the same price.

Setting expectations and how to do better

For some types of firework event, the smaller boxes are actually ideal. These include displays for very small children who might be seeing fireworks for the first time, for small gardens, or maybe those wanting to put on a low key display.

The point here is that boxes containing lots of very small items are not going to create a spectacular display. To some, that’s the point. Others will be disappointed.

It should also be pointed out that you get what you pay for. Given that a single, spectacular barrage in a bigger fireworks event might cost say £30, or a single big rocket £25 each, then a box for £20 that has 30 items is clearly going to have 30 tiny fireworks that will struggle to last longer than a few seconds each.

In firework circles, boxes tend to be considered the bottom rung of the pyro ladder. Great for kids and informal back garden displays where you want very small fireworks. But otherwise the next step up is to buy individual items as described in my firework types section.

The power of individual and separate items on sale to the UK public from specialist fireworks shops, such as barrages and rockets (costing say from £5 up to £100+ each) is in a completely different league to the smaller items found in most supermarket selection boxes. These are the items you should be looking at if you want to move up to the next level in firework performance.

Fireworks selection boxes FAQ

The contents of boxes are intended to be removed and fired individually. Check the label on each one for directions. Most items will need secured so they cannot fall over.

You need between 8m and 15m distance to spectators for F2 boxes and 25m for F3 boxes. The smaller, cheaper boxes tend to be classed as F2 8m.

It's complicated. In terms of raw performance and spectacle, no. Cheaper boxes churned out by supermarkets on BOGOF deals will disappoint with lots of very small and underwhelming items. But if you want smaller items for toddlers, are trying fireworks for the first time or just want something low-key and cheap, they're not a bad place to start. 

Buying from a specialist fireworks shop is the best way to get better quality boxes. However you will see a corresponding increase in price. A quality range of boxes (say Kimbolton's) might start at £30+ for something of similar visual size to a supermarket's £10 box but should have substantially better fireworks and more gunpowder. Other brands rated by my forum members include Jonathans and Zeus. As always it's a case of getting what you pay for.

With the exception of sparklers, never hold fireworks in the hand no matter how small they are. They're designed to be secured on the ground.

Very small boxes containing mostly fountains are likely to be fairly quiet. Bigger boxes with cakes, barrages or rockets included will be louder. Use product video if available to check each box out. Note that no fireworks are 100% silent, there will always be some noise as the effects are ejected, even if they don't bang.

No. If you are going to a "bring a firework" party put your money into one rocket pack or one barrage. Otherwise you will all the there for many hours watching small and underwhelming items (spoken from experience!).

If you keep them dry, fireworks last for many years and don't really have a shelf-life. Store unused fireworks away from fire, moisture and children.

If you have unfired items and don't want to keep them to a later date, return them to the retailer who should be happy to dispose of them for you. Otherwise, soak them in a bucket of water overnight and put them (still wet) into your normal rubbish.

Further information and next steps

If you are following the Beginner’s Guides then you can click here to return to that page. Alternatively you can click here to see the main menu of each firework type in this section if you want to read more (or click on the menu at the top of this page to access all of my guides).

If you’re ready to buy fireworks for your display then the Buying Fireworks section will guide you further.