Want to do a little something different for your Christmas dinner? I've not got a big budget to spend on Christmas this year, and it feels a bit mean to give a small inexpensive present. But one way to make the gift special is to turn it into a home made cracker. That's what I've decided to do. Partly to be able to give all my guests a little something, but also because this year we have a new dining table. So I've decided to dress my dinner table for a change. It is possible I've been spending a bit too much time on Kirstie Alsopp's website though.
It also occurred to me that home made crackers would make a brilliant gift for my son to give to his teachers. I really must remember that for next year!
Materials And Tools
Nearly all the websites I looked at used cardboard tubes, typically loo rolls. I know it is not a reasonable feeling at all, but I do have a bit of queasiness when it comes to using anything that's been in a toilet. For a lot of stuff I just ignore my feelings, but for this one I'm using a rather thin cardboard tube of about the same size that was an inner tube in wrapping paper. I'll cut it down to size.
You'll also want some wrapping paper to use to cover the outside. Now what kind you use depends on how you're going to construct your cracker. If you can use a perforator (see below) then Kirstie Alsopp suggest going for a good, thick, quality paper for that special touch.
Or choose a really thin paper that will tear easily.
To make it easy to pull, perforate each end using a craft perforator. These only cost a few pounds, and if you plan to do more crafts are worth investing in. I've decided to buy one. We have to do a project for school every term, so I am sure it'll come in handy at least once more! There's a mini rotary perforater available at Very for £3 with free delivery.
Most of the sites I read while researching this used glue or tape. One however recommended spray mount. When working with paper like this, spray mount make sense. It is easier to use, and you'll get a smoother finish. Plus, it really does stick. However it isn't cheap at about a tenner for a 400ml can. You can get these from most stationary suppliers, and also online from stores like Amazon (3M Spray Mount £10.20).
One thing I thought I'd miss out on with a homemade cracker is that distinctive snap. But it turns out you can buy these, and they don't cost that much. You can pick up a pack from most party shops and many craft shops. I also found them online, with the cheapest being from Very, again. Cracker Snaps for £2 including delivery.
If all the websites are to be believed this is actually fairly easy. You need three tubes - the two at either end are there to hold shape and can be removed later. Roll these up in paper, insert the snap, close up one end then insert the gift. Don't forget the joke, that's obligatory. And you can pop in a christmas crown too.
Then tie off the other end and voila, you have a cracker!
These step by step instructions on the CountryLife website have some useful and informative diagrams. Also a nice tip to tape each end of the snap on the paper, to make sure it really cracks with the cracker is pulled.
Kirstie Allsop's instructions on the Channel 4 website come with a photograph for each step, which is also handy. She uses glue for the snap, but I wonder if that would provide enough of a hold when you pull. Unless perhaps you use something like a glue gun rather than PVA.
There's also a really good step by step guide for making a cracker on the Old English Crackers website.
For something even more special (although this might fall into the category of just plain showing off) you could make your own Victorian crackers. There's a video guide here on the BBC website.
Now that you've made your cracker you can decorate it. This is where you can really go to town if you like. Kirstie suggests using ribbons and the such. You can also make use of the little mini Christmas decorations you can pick up. I got some little wooden Christmas tree decorations from the pound shop. I'm going to use those together with some shiny ribbons. Hopefully it will work!
Squawfox though has some simply wonderful decorating touches for the crackers made on the website. It is well worth having a look.
Crackers can make a great gift for adults such as teachers, or to grandparents or other relatives. In this case, get your children to draw the illustrations to go onto the outside of the card.
If anyone makes their own crackers, or has a plan to use them as gifts, please post your photos. I would love to see how everyone else gets on. And I promise to post photos of mine too, if you do!