I love a seasonal ‘how to’, and if you do too you’ll want to check out my festive makes from previous years under the ‘Seasonal’ section in the menu.
This year I knew I wanted to make some of my Christmas gifts and crackers are a little luxury that really lend itself to a festive make and gift that goes down well.
I don’t know about you but I loathe spending money on Christmas crackers because they are really expensive, usually rubbish and a horrible drain on the environment.
I first tried making recycled crackers last year and they went down a storm with friends and family, so I’ve decided to make them again and refined the process a little.
There’s plenty of things you can use from your home to make these, and the key to making sure they are made from recycled materials is good preparation.
Here’s my step by step guide to making your own Christmas crackers…
Ok, so saving stuff up is a bit of a faff BUT, and it’s a big but, it stops things heading to landfill and means things are given a new lease of life before hitting the bin. Plus you’ll have a lovely home made gift to give and feel like a total domestic goddess!
During the year…
- Save those cardboard inners from your toilet rolls! This year I knew I wanted to make a lot of crackers, so I started hoarding toilet rolls in January 2019 for the entire year to make sure I had enough to make crackers by the time it was November 2019.
- Save odds and ends of ribbon, scraps of paper for jokes.
- Save any magazines, leaflets or brochures that have great imagery. This year I decided to use up all my old Jack Wills catalogues that I’d saved up, I’m not sure why I hoarded these things but I knew it was time to let them go, and what better way to do that than to turn them into something new. The added bonus of using these is that the catalogues had great festive imagery and were all the right size. Last year however I used old supplement magazines from The Times as they had great photography too. However, you really can use anything, I’ve made a lovely set from newspaper, although it’s a little more flimsy compared to magazine/catalogue paper, so go easy when you’re cutting it up and tying the cracker ends as it’s a little easier to rip.
- Top tip – don’t get too hung up on text and the image not being exactly perfect and lining up in the centre of the cracker, these are the bits that add that homemade goodness.
Some of these things are much quicker to save, and others, like the toilet roll will take a while to accumulate some in any volume.
What you need
This really depends on how many you’re planning to make. I make mine in sets of eight when giving them as gifts but, you can adjust this to more or less if you know who you’re making for and their plans for Christmas.
To make a set of eight…
- 8 x the inner cardboard tube of a toilet roll
- 8 x pages from a magazine, catalogue or brochure
- A magazine like The Sunday Times Style, Grazia, Cosmopolitan, The Waitrose Food magazine are around the right size.
- You need the paper to be a good 8cm or more at the end of each toilet paper
- 8 x scraps of paper for Christmas jokes
- 8 x scraps of ribbon, twine or string
- 8 x gifts
- I didn’t have time to hand make this element even though I wanted to. I bought tiny wooden Christmas decorations and added this to each cracker.
- Since finishing my crackers though I realised I could make the decorations out of origami to make them even more recyclable, homemade and cute! Next year that’s my plan.
- 8 x optional sweeties or chocolate
- I chose not to include these as I didn’t have time to find something with a recyclable wrapper.
- 8 x optional cracker snaps
- Last year I didn’t put snaps in my crackers, as they were for a household with pets that didn’t like the snaps. What I realised is that you don’t need these, they are a nice to have. The breaking of the paper does make a snap sound, just a different one than you’re used to.
- This year I did buy snaps, I found them for £1 at The Range, I probably won’t buy them in future but it was nice to try them out! Most of a snap is cardboard and recyclable though, and easy to recycle afterwards.
The quickest way to assemble these crackers is to make sure each individual element is ready go.
- Make sure all the cracker paper is the same size
- Research Christmas Jokes on Google and write out all the jokes
- Cut any ribbon to size
- Fold and cut all the cracker paper in advance – this really speeds the process up!
Cracker paper – the more mismatched the better, but if like me you like to be a bit coordinated there are a few simple ways to do this. Pick a colour, theme or use paper that has the same feel to help give the set of crackers the appearance that they go together.
For some sets of cracker I picked beautiful foodie shots, some I went for black and white photography, while for other sets I went for jewel tones, autumnal colours…well you get the idea! The world is your oyster and if you have time to scour your old magazines then you can find some gorgeous pictures to turn into crackers.
Making the cracker folds
How to make the cracker’s folds and cuts…
STEP 1 – Put the cardboard tube in the centre of the paper and fold the ends up either side so there’s an equal amount of paper either end of the roll. Make sure you’ve got a bit enough dent so you can make the folds properly. These folds mark where the roll will sit within the paper. Unfold the piece of paper so it lays flat on the table.
STEP 2 – From each of these folds make another fold approximately 2cms out towards the end of the cracker. Keep each side folded this time.
STEP 3 – By now you should have four folds on your piece of paper, either side of where the cardboard tube will sit.
STEP 4 – Cut along the second fold up to the first fold and repeat on the other side.
STEP 5 – Unfold each end – these cuts are where your ribbon will sit at the end of each cracker.
How to make a cracker…
STEP 1 – Take a cardboard tube and use a small piece of sellotape to stick a cracker snap on the inside of the roll. No need to do this if your crackers are snap free!
STEP 3 – Roll a piece of paper around the tube and secure with a piece of sellotape.
STEP 4 – Take a piece of ribbon and tie a knot around one end of the cracker and add a bow or curl the ribbon depending on what it’s made out of.
- Top tip – make sure you pull the ribbon tight to close any gap at the end of the cracker, this will stop the contents from falling out.
STEP 5 – Add your gift, chocolate/sweets and anything else to the centre of the cracker.
STEP 6 – Take another piece of ribbon and secure the other end.
- Reminder – make sure to pull the ribbon tight to close the gap at the end of the cracker.
STEP 7 – Ta da! Your first cracker is complete, now repeat this process until you’ve made as many as you need!
Christmas crackers are easy to make but they are time consuming. My biggest tip is to leave plenty of time if you’re making lots. I started in December and realistically as I’m making ten sets of eight, I really needed to start in October or November, so I wasn’t trying to do this in peak festive madness.
Let me know if you’ve had a go at making your own crackers.
If you liked this, you might like some of my other festive makes…