Do you buy Christmas crackers each year? They look fancy, make an exciting sound, but what do you get from it? A tissue hat, a joke, and a cheap surprise; all of which get thrown away by the end of the meal. Why go to the expense of purchasing them, when you can make your own for a fraction of the price? Get out your supplies and have a frugal Christmas meal!
Christmas Cracker supplies
- Cardboard tubes, as many as the number of crackers you need, plus two extra
- Some left-over gift wrap (if it is shiny, make sure it will rip easily)
- Snappers (available at craft shops, if you think ahead you can get them on sale after Christmas)
- Clear tape
- Double-sided tape (Useful but not necessary)
- Embellishments to decorate the cracker
- Tissue hats (also available at craft shops)
- Christmas cracker jokes (you can make up your own, or download them from the internet)
- A small gift to enclose within the cracker
DIY Christmas Cracker instructions
Putting your Christmas cracker together is super simple!
Cut your paper to size, you’ll need enough to go around your cardboard roll with a little overlap. For your length, size it to be the length of 3 toilet paper rolls. In my case the dimensions were 17cm x 32 cm. I used some pretty paper that had been previously been used for wrapping a gift, so it was free!
Slide one of your snappers into one of the cardboard rolls and gently tape it into place on either end inside the tube.
Take a strip of double-sided tape and place it along the outside of your cardboard tube.
Lie this tube in the middle of two other tubes lying end-to-end.
Tape the gift wrap to the middle tube and roll it up, using another piece of double-sided tape to fasten it at the other end. If you don’t have double-sided tape, you can use some clear tape or a glue stick to do this. By having the other tubes in a row, you will help to keep your gift wrap straight and in shape.
Once your gift wrap is secured, gently remove one of the spare tubes and close that end of your cracker using ribbon. You can use gift-wrap ribbon, silk or lace ribbon, etc. I used some that had previously been used for wrapping years ago. If you save those little ribbons from the shoulders of shirts that are used to hang them up (I don’t hang my t-shirts, and the ribbons get in the way so I clip them off), they would be the perfect size.
Once you have one end secured, it’s time to fill your cracker with the mandatory hat, bad joke, and gift. The wonderful thing about making your own crackers is that you have the opportunity to personalise the contents. Last year I made this little emergency sewing kit for my husband to take to work with him for his regular clothing malfunctions. It was both considered a ‘joke’ gift, but also very practical, and has been used several times since. For my daughter, I made her a necklace similar to these bracelets that fit in nicely. In the photo you see her puzzle piece brooch as I didn’t want her to see what was actually going into her cracker.
Once your little gifts are tucked safely inside, tie up the last end of the Christmas cracker and you’re all set! Now repeat for each lucky recipient.
If you’d like, you can embellish the outside of your crackers. I used some green outline stickers I had left over that doesn’t go with my current card making to use around the outer edges of the tube. I used a coordinating piece of sparkly chain link paper that I had purchased at such a great deal two years before I couldn’t have bought the paper for that price. You can decorate the outside of the cracker to suit each person’s tastes, or hint at what might be inside.
These little crackers are so pretty and fun, you can make them up ahead of time and use them as tree decorations as well. Double-duty frugality! I estimate that each of my crackers cost me under £.10 before I fill them with the gifts. Because I try to make the gifts from things I already have on-hand, these really are fantastic on the Christmas budget!
Have fun making these DIY Christmas crackers, and you’ll never go back to the impersonal, store bought ones again. This will be our third year making our own, and the kids love it!
Jingle over to our Christmas page for more great ideas.