Wednesday, 21 November 2012

How to Make Christmas Crackers

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I’m on a making-for-Christmas roll this week! For today’s show and tell I am blogging about my diy Christmas crackers. I’ve made my own crackers for at least the last four years because it doesn’t matter if you get your crackers from the Poundshop or blow £30 on a luxury box, the contents are always the same and have been since I was little girl. The only difference is you get a silver plated shoehorn in the posh crackers instead of plastic one, and who wants that?

There are a few supplies that you will need to make your own Christmas crackers:

Paper (cut to A4 size, approximately 30cm by 20cm)
Empty toilet roll tubes (one per guest, plus an additional two)
Cracker snaps
Sticky tape

To fill your crackers you will also need:

Paper hats
Small gifts

Before I launch into how I made my Christmas crackers I just want to highlight that I was aiming for a laidback, fun and mismatched vibe with mine so I played up the handmade look. If your Christmas dinner is going to be a more stylish fare then using really good quality wrapping paper measuring 33cm by 20cm should result in a more polished look.

Step One: Choose and cut your paper

The paper you choose will influence both the quality of the finished look and how satisfying they are to pull. I used brown parcel paper because it is thick enough to work with but thin enough that you don’t need Popeye sized muscles to pull the cracker. I cut the brown paper into 30cm by 20cm sheets (about A4 sized). You can make it a bit longer if you want, but it won’t work if you make it shorter than these measurements.

Step Two: Secure your snap

For a neat finish you can glue your snap into the tube, but I just tape it because who is going to see it anyway?

Step Three: Wrap your paper around the tube

This is the bit where you will need your two extra tubes. Pop a tube over each end of the snap to create an even longer tube that is roughly the length of your cracker. This will allow you to wrap the paper around into a neater roll. How you secure the paper is up to you. In the past I have just used a discreet bit of tape underneath because it isn’t going to be visible when the crackers are laid out nicely on the table. This year I used a slither of glue along one edge of the paper to give a better finish.

Step Four: Pinch and Tie

Before you can stick the goodies inside you need to close one end of your cracker. To do this I slid out one of the end tubes slightly to create a little gap (only about half a centimetre) and used my fingers to create a little crease all the way around. Then I wrapped some string or ribbon round it and carefully pulled the gap closed. You can remove the spare toilet roll out after doing this, it’s served its purpose.

Step Five: Fill the crackers

It is traditional to put in a paper hat, a joke and a little gift but of course you can put whatever you like in. You can often buy paper hats from the same places that supply the snaps, or you could make your own. I had some mismatched hats left over from previous years so used them. Jokes can be printed from many sites on the internet or you can do what I did and knock up something in Microsoft Word – don’t forget, it is part of the fun that the jokes are groaners. There is no such thing as a funny Christmas cracker joke!

The last two Christmases we have filled each cracker with a Lego minifigure. This is perfect for our family as we are all Lego fans, and foil packets add an element of surprise to Christmas dinner as you genuinely don’t know what you’ll be getting when you pull the cracker. The year before that it was diecast Disney Cars characters for the kids. Ideas for adults are things like nail varnish, jewellery, keyrings, mini torches, vouchers, scratch cards, posh chocolates, etc. The good thing about making your own is that you can really tailor the crackers to suit individuals!

Step Six: Seal your crackers

After filling your cracker, close the open end using the same method described in Step Four.

Step Seven: Decorate your crackers

This is the fun bit! It’s entirely up to you how overboard you go. I like to create each cracker with a completely different design so I know which one is intended for whom (especially important if you’ve tailored the gifts to suit a particular person). But I’ve seen some gorgeous matching or coordinated ones, and you can add a pretty label with the person’s name if necessary.



  1. Great idea. Love that you put mini lego sets in them. Cute.

  2. Thank you for this great tutorial. I was just pondering how to make these today!!

  3. What a great idea, I'll definitely try this. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hi from "across the pond" or a.k.a. the USA! Sounds like a fun and interesting thing to make with the children. Could you enlighten me as to what exactly a "cracker" is and what you do with these (besides the gift and joke?) Is this a traditional English thing? My hubby's roots are English and we have never heard of this. I was wondering what I've been saving all those rolls for...maybe this? Thanks for sharing!

    1. I think Christmas crackers date back to Victorian times (over a hundred years ago) and were indeed an English invention. You have them on the table at Christmas dinner... you pull them, they make a little bang. There's a little gift, you read a bad joke that everyone groans at and then wear a stupid paper hat while you eat your turkey. Come to think of it, they are daft and pointless but they are a traditional part of Christmas in almost all British homes.

    2. Thanks Angela for answering my questions! I'm hoping to get to look around your blog some more.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this great tutorial! We lived in England for a year and this was a great tradition that we picked up during our time there! Love Christmas crackers! I'd love for you to share this at my Twirl & Take a Bow party at Hope you can join in on the party.

  6. I'd like to invite you to join me at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

    I hope to see you there!
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  7. Thanks for sharing. The Lego idea is brilliant!

  8. I love this idea! I don't think I could get anyone else to go for it though, especially the hats.

    I would love to invite you share at Fall Into the Holidays-

    Katie @ Horrific Knits

  9. thanks for linking up to Make it monday! I've shared it on my FB page

  10. What a fun tradition! I think I'll try it with my family this year. Thanks for the great tutorial, and thanks for linking up at One Creative Weekend. I'll be featuring this idea tomorrow morning! Feel free to grab a featured button, and I hope to see you back on Friday.

  11. Great tutorial...pinning them for later!


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