Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without pulling a cracker or two with with your loved ones over the turkey, that I know to be true. What would our Christmases become without a colourful paper crown on top of our heads, or the annual chorus of groans at all those terrible jokes we've all heard a million times before? I can't envision such a Christmas!
Yes, those crackers can be tacky and predictable, but it's also possible to make your own and fill them with anything you like.
Sure, there is a never-ending selection of pre-made, pre-filled crackers for your convenience; crackers filled with colourful paper hats, dodgy recycled jokes, and cheap plastic toys... but in all honesty, how many of us actually enjoy those tacky prizes as adults? In my house, we might be entertained with them for a minute or two, but usually they'll end up in the bin by the end of the day. So, for the last few years, I've been assembling my own for our Christmas meal each year, and today I've decided to show you how I put this year's together.
This year, I've put together these lovely star print crackers to entertain my family with during Christmas dinner.
You could make Christmas crackers completely from scratch, but I like to buy a cracker kit to save time.
And so people don't find out I have the artistic ability of a two year old. I picked this kit up in Hobbycraft, which was £4 for a set of six, including paper hats, jokes, and snaps. As I write this, there are still some silver cracker kits available on their website, which can be found here, and they're also 3 for 2.
The crackers come flat-packed for self-assembly, and along with the paper hat and joke, the pack also includes raffia ribbon to tie each end of the cracker. The above photo shows the materials I used to make one cracker, including the two gift-wrapped prezzies.
I wrapped the gifts I added to the crackers in festive red and green tissue paper, as I think unwrapping a little gift or two makes the tradition all the more fun.
How to Make the Crackers
The crackers come with full assembly instructions on the back of the pack, which are very easy to follow.
First, you roll the cardboard cracker, and slide the three tabs in to the pre cut slots.
That makes the shell of the cracker, as shown above.
Next you tie one end of the cracker with a piece of raffia, by tying it tightly in to the centre of the diamond cut outs. This will cinch the end of the cracker in, and transform it in to the traditional cracker shape.
Then pop the hat, joke, and gifts through the open end of the cracker. If they don't slide in easily, try using a pen or a pencil to gently push them through to the middle.
And then all you need to do is tie up the other end of the cracker, and voila! You have a beautiful home made cracker to be enjoyed over the holidays! They were super easy to put together, and only took me ten minutes to make all six!
I can't wait to hear what my family think of them come Christmas Day! I've managed to keep the little gifts I've added to them a secret, so far!
Gifts I Filled the Crackers With
This year I decided to buy everybody a £1 Christmas scratch card to find in their crackers on Christmas Day. I've never given Lotto tickets as gifts before, but I figured it would be fun to give them a chance to win a few quid along with their turkey and sprouts. I sellotaped a penny on to the back of each card for convenience, and wrapped them up for an extra touch.
Along with the scratch cards, I couldn't resist buying these Thorntons' Snowman chocolates. They're shaped like The Snowman, which is pretty much the best Christmas character in the history of the world, so at 79 pence each, I had to buy them! Who wouldn't want a milk chocolate snowman, that's what I want to know! I grew up on the original film, and it's still magical to watch every Christmas Eve.
Other Christmas Cracker Gift Ideas
Last year I made beauty Christmas crackers for the ladies in my family, filling them with inexpensive MUA nail polishes that cost £1 each. For the men, I chose mini Thornton's Chocolates shaped like Christmas puddings and yule logs. We also added in some Lindt chocolates and Ferrero Rochers; others included novelty or luxury Thornton's chocolates. I'm pleased to say they all went down a storm!
It's so easy to personalise Christmas Crackers, and there are millions of gifts you could choose to fill them with. You're limited only by your imagination! Here are a few ideas that come to mind:
Nail Polishes- luxury or budget, there are thousands out there to choose from. On a budget? Check out MUA, NYC Color, Collection, Rimmel and Barry M for inexpensive bottles. Also, snag a bargain on Fragrance Direct where you can get Sally Hansen polishes from just 99 pence!
Make Up- look for narrow products such as lipsticks, lipglosses, lipbalms, mascara, eyeliners, eye crayons nail art pens, and make up brushes.
Bath and Body Products- you could use mini and sample bottles, pots, or sachets of shower gels, hand lotions, perfume, face masks, bubble bath and so on.
Sweets and Chocolates- there is a never ending selection of edible treats out there, so this one is really down to you. You could go for luxury chocolates and truffles; Nostalgic sweets from back in the day; Foreign favourites sourced online or from specialist shops; Treat sized favourites; Lollies; Boiled sweets; Fudge; or something festive like mini candy canes, perhaps.
Other Foods- Of course, you could add different types of food instead: biscuits, popcorn, mini pretzels, nuts, crackers; Specialist teas, coffees, or hot chocolates; Mini bottles of something alcoholic; ...what ever you fancy.
Money and Tickets- You could give: money or cheques; Lotto tickets and scratch cards; a betting slip (place a bet for them); Tickets to a show, movie, attraction or some other fun thing to do; Gift vouchers; Homemade cheques to trade for your time or services whenever they choose; You could even add photos for people to giggle over.
Miscellaneous- Not inspired by any of the ideas above? Well here is an eclectic mix of ideas I hope you find handy! Why not add: Hair accessories such as bobbles and clips; Costume jewellery such as earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces, and brooches; Keyrings; Nail art stickers and wraps; Stickers for journaling / snail mail; Novelty items like fake moustaches- perfect for using for silly, memorable photos; Pens; Seeds.; Buttons, threads, and other sewing materials for sewers; Bookmarks; Golf tees; Bottle openers and corkscrews; or what about Flashdrives with a playlist or photo album compiled on them; you could even write and store a poem, story, or letter on them, if you're feeling creative!
And here are a few for the younger ones in the house...
For Kids and the Young at Heart- Why not try: small toys such as: Finger traps; Marbles (although these will need opening GENTLY to avoid sustaining a head injury); Small wind up toys; Small toy cars; Small figurines and dolls (you can find everything from pirates to puppies in figurine form these days); Bouncy balls; Mini spinning tops; Whoopee cushions; Penny whistles; Harmonicas; Keyrings; Balloons; Pens and pencils; Crayons; Stickers; Hair accessories; Jewellery and so on. Raid the pocket money sections of toy shops and departments for inexpensive little gifts!
And those are my ideas for making and personalising your own Christmas crackers!
This post is perhaps a bit too late to be of much use to most of you, but remember, you can always bookmark this post for next year!
Will you be making your own crackers this Christmas?