We have a new Christmas tradition at our house of making Christmas crackers. Not the kind you eat, but the English kind you pull apart that snaps.
I don’t know what prompted me to start making them but let me tell you, they are so much fun that we made it a point to make them every Christmas. You wouldn’t think a popping tube of paper could be such fun, but I assure you, it is.
Of course if you’re not the crafty type, or your kids are too small, by all means, just buy them! They’re in many US stores these days. If you’re particularly organized, you might want to pick them up after Christmas this year when they go on sale for half price and just tuck them away upstairs in your attic for next year (this is how I purchase most of my Christmas decorations and crafts).
But if you have the time and inclination (or are thrifty
cheap, like I am) try making them yourself?
First of all, buy the snappers. I had to order mine from the UK, and they took some weeks to get here, so plan accordingly. And, if you get somewhat addicted to making them for holidays and birthdays, you may want to have a few around.
Then start saving your toilet paper cardboard tubes, or paper towel tubes, though those will need to be cut in half.
Get some wrapping paper, and some ribbon for the ties, but those you might have on hand at Christmas, anyway.
For the stuffers tradition dictates that there are jokes tucked inside the tube, and the more groan inducing the joke, the better it is. Don’t mess with tradition on this one, and try to fix what ain’t broke. We have a few old joke books in the house, and the kids normally find the worst to write on the papers slips that get tucked in the tubes. Books like 101 Elephant Jokes. You could go with themes for the jokes, or pick ones for specific people (and put a name tag on the cracker!). But for the most part, the girls just pick the worst jokes they can find, write them down, and cut them out.
Another part of the tradition is that there are paper crowns that you wear while you eat your Christmas dinner. You just can’t take yourself too seriously when you’re wearing a paper crown and that’s pretty fun all in itself. We cut them out of crepe paper rolls. Just make them long enough (measure the crepe paper around your head to make a pattern), and then cut triangles out of one side of the strip, making the points of a crown.Give it a dab of glue, or a piece of tape to hold the two sides together, and fold it up so you can tuck it in the tube.
I also put some Christmas chocolates, candies, and small toys in them. Bouncy balls, noisemakers, balloons, those banger balloons with the handles on them, water guns, bubble gum balls, matchbox cars, dice, lip gloss, eyes shadows, jacks, erasers, guitar picks, whatever you can tuck in there–use your imagination! Whatever you do, don’t put confetti in them if you’re pulling them at the table unless you want confetti in your food. Ahem.
So now that you have all of the parts to assemble, putting them together is so easy. I’m not one for the precisely cut ends, I like a home made look, so we just twist ours and tie them with ribbon or baker’s twine. But if you do prefer a precise twist and cut, there are templates for you to follow. Of course you’d need a craft knife and cutting board if you went that route.
There are as many ways to decorate or not decorate the outside as there are ways to make crackers, but what I did this year was to cut out some old world Santa pictures from Christmas cards I had bought on clearance. (when I see a picture on a card I like, I tend to do such things with plans to use them later for ornaments, or whatnot). After Christmas, also the Christmas stamps, papers, and stickers go on sale, also, and you can pick them up for up to 70% off. Tuck them away for next year!