How to Make Christmas Crackers

The following is a guest post.

Years ago, after watching an episode of the children’s show Blue Peter, I decided to try and make my own Christmas cracker centerpiece. Christmas crackers are a mainstay of a traditional English Christmas dinner; a tradition dating back to Victorian times.

Apparently, a London sweetmaker, named Tom Smith, first made crackers in about 1850. He had seen the French ‘bon bon’ sweets (almonds wrapped in pretty paper), and one night, while he was sitting in front of his log fire, he became very interested by the sparks and cracks coming from the fire. Suddenly, he thought what a fun idea it would be, if his sweets and toys could be opened with a crack when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half. And so crackers were born.

A cracker is placed at every setting on the Christmas dinner table. Available in many colors and sizes, the paper tubes are always filled with a joke, a little gift and a paper party hat! As family & friends sit down for the wonderful feast, the first order of business is to pull these crackers.

Each person grabs one end of the cracker with a neighbor at the table grabbing another and then pull! The popper inside “cracks” as the paper rips apart and the contents of the cracker spill out. We then read the corny jokes and put the paper crowns on our heads – no excuses. We all look silly together, but that’s part of the tradition.

So back to the centerpiece: All those years ago I said to my mum, “I want to make the big Christmas cracker!” I found the cardboard, probably bought some crepe paper at W.H. Smith, and got to work. Unfortunately my mum didn’t have the backstage elves like on Blue Peter where the presenters would miraculously pull a finished “make” from under the table and say, “here’s one I made earlier.”

But we muddled through and produced the centerpiece – and I loved it! The small crackers were still at each place setting and my homemade centerpiece adorned the center of the table filled with little treats for everyone.

As projects go this one isn’t too difficult. As my original creation no longer existed, a few years ago I decided to recreate the cracker for my family.

Here’s one I made earlier :)

The cracker is made up of 2 tubes that fit together. Get some sturdy cardboard – a couple of empty cereal boxes work. It’s up to you how big you make it, so cut 2 larger rectangular pieces of card for the middle pieces and 2 smaller rectangular pieces of card for the ends. They should be the same width but different depths. You should have 2 set ups like this picture below.

Make 2 like this

Find some strong wrapping paper or foil paper and cut 2 large pieces big enough to lay a large and a small piece of card on each one. Lay the pieces of card on as shown in the picture. Glue the card onto the paper and fold the excess pieces from the side over onto the card like wrapping a gift. Do this with the other 2 pieces of card.

Fold excess paper over

Now make tubes out of the two pieces you have created. I use a stapler for this. Make sure one tube is narrower than the other, so that it will fit into the larger one.

Staple tubes You will have two tubes like this

Remember it will be filled with sweets or little gifts and you will want to pull it open and have the contents be a surprise for your guests.

Where there is just paper in the two tubes between the two pieces of card use string or gift ribbon to cinch them to create the cracker look! You can now decorate it as you like! Your centerpiece is ready! Fill it with sweets or little gifts and your guests are sure to be impressed.

Fill the cracker with yummy treats

Making it look like a cracker Finished Christmas cracker

Have fun going crackers! Please let me know if you have any success making one! I would love to see your results. If you send me a photo I will post it in a blog in the New Year.

Email info@thebeeskneesbritishimports.com with your photo.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Best Wishes!

Lucinda Sears is a British expat living in Massachusetts. She and her friend Donna started a business selling British items called The Bees Knees British Imports. Read her guest posts here.

Comments

  1. Cynthia Edwards says

    I made self-sufficiency Christmas crackers one year à la Tom Good. Leftover loo rolls filled with penny trinkets and games, a bad joke or two on strips of paper, all tied with up with leftover gift wrapping paper and ribbon on the ends. As with Christmas in The Good Life, you had to make your own “Bang!” noise when you pulled them. Or, if you’re a Margo … “Crack!”

  2. Pam Bennett says

    I’ve been making homemade ones for years here in the U.S.—-I just use empty toilet paper tubes, and fill them with treats and coins, then wrap in Christmas paper, tie one end with ribbon in a knot, tie the other end with a different color ribbon in a BOW, and they know which end to untie and discover their treasures. (I also buy a set of crackers that officially go ‘BANG’ so we all have crowns to wear too!)