Saturday, 15 December 2012

Top Tips For Christmas 2012 – #4

Make your own crackers! There will only be three of us for Christmas lunch, and whilst I feel crackers are a traditional component of the feast, I am not going to buy a box of 6,8,10 or 12 – and furthermore, the contents of the cheaper ones are rubbish!

There are lots of tutorials out there- but many result in crackers which have ‘squished’ ends, and I don’t think they look terribly exciting. Here’s my tutorial for home made crackers…

First up, the hats – take a brightly coloured magazine page, and trim it to about 15cm x 29cm [or you can use some regular A4 sheets]


Fold them in half and sellotape the short sides, so you get a shallow bag.

Keep the open edge at the bottom.



Now fold the strip in half three times. Cut off the top folded edge on the diagonal. And here’s your paper hat.Fold it up again and secure with a paper clip.Conveniently a hat made like this from an A4 magazine page will fit the average head. DSCF5011DSCF5013

If you are putting jokes in your crackers, then fold them up and tuck them in the paperclip at this point. Find some here if you need inspiration. I am putting paper aeroplanes in my crackers this year.DSCF5014 We’ll have an airshow after dessert!

I found some ideas on the internet, [here and here]with an instruction sheet and print off template. Often planes need a paperclip to balance the nose, so it’s useful that you’ve already put one in the cracker!  I reduced my planes in size so they would roll up and fit . My other cracker gifts are bottles of shower gel [hotel freebies!]

DSCF5019You must check that your gifts will go into the tubes – it is so frustrating to have charming gifts which are too fat!

A word about tubes. I used kitchen rolls – which are twice as long, and slightly fatter than my loo rolls.

DSCF5015Health and Hygiene – back in the days when I was an Under Eights Advisor, there was discussion about using loo rolls. Some people just won’t but I was told that if you put four tubes in a cross shape on your microwave plate and zapped them, full power for 30 seconds, they would be sterilised and OK to use for kids crafts.DSCF5016 

If you are using long rolls, cut them in half now.

YOU WILL NEED TWO MORE ROLLS THAN THE NIMBER OF FINISHED CRACKERS [so I have five!] Wrap a piece of string round the tube and overlap by 1cm.  That gives you one dimension for your paper. For the other dimension you need two lengths and two widths.



Cut out your rectangle, trim the edges with pinking shears if you want to be fancy! Put three tubes in a row. Put glue ALONG THE CENTRE TUBE ONLY not on the two outer tubes. Roll up so the edge stick to the middle tube. Then put glue all along the the edge of the paper. Roll up completely, press down


DSCF5023Now the clever bit. Slide one tube out just a little way. Put a piece of string round, and gently make a knot and slowly pull it tight. Push in the loose tube to help keep the shape neat. Remove that tube.

Turn the cracker up and drop all contents inside. Repeat the knotting business at the other end. Voila! a cracker which is not embarrassed to grace your Festive Feast.DSCF5024DSCF5025

So here are my three.

I have no idea why one came out slightly shorter than the others! I used some wrapping paper I bought on offer in John Lewis, Norwich, last October.

If you are totally broke or committed to recycling and need to use more magazine pages, you can BUT take note…DSCF5026

You will need to reduce the length of your loo roll tube by ¼ or the proportions will be all wrong.

Cut of 25% and it’s fine!

The only real drawback is the lack of ‘snap’. You can buy these online, but it is only worth it if you are making lots – and they tend to lose their oomph if you keep the leftovers for next year. I taught 75 pensioners to make crackers once, and after making a dozen crackers for our family, kept the remainder of the box of 100 snaps for 12 months. Then threw the useless things away! [snaps not OAPs]

I may add labels instructing people to shout ‘snap’ crack’ or ‘pop’

If you are making crackers with kids, then go wild with trims and glitter and embellishments and tie on bells and tinsel and stuff. I am going for the ‘country rustic’ look, so just used my jute kitchen string. Even allowing for the specially bought wrapping paper, they cost me less than 10p each to make with bits I had in my craft stash.

If your gifts are person-specific, do not forget to put labels on the crackers. I avoid chocolates [in case the cracker gets pushed against a hot dish of veg, and there’s enough sugar around anyway] but might consider a Kinder Egg if there were lots of children. Other content ideas – small soaps, mini pencils, balloons, dice, tape measures, key rings, tube of peppermints, novelty paperclips.

Bob says that if you HATE cracker hats, get your hat out quickly, and enthusiastically pull it on, down over your ears, so it rips, make a disappointed noise, and screw up the remains - then you are spared the indignity of wearing a silly hat through lunch.


  1. Great tutorial. I've been complaining about the crackers in the shops an how I don't like what's inside them. Now I can make our own and like you there is only 3 of us for Christmas dinner.
    Thank you.

  2. Oh very very good! I'm hopeless at following instructions unless someone is in front of me, but these are very clear!!


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