How To Make Your Own Christmas Cracker

Fun, festive Christmas crackers are a holiday staple across the Commonwealth. I tried my hand at making the snappy party favors, and you can, too.

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Time

2-3 hours to make several

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

$50 not including tools

Introduction

Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada wouldn't be Christmas without pulling crackers, a party favor that pops. Make a chain: Grab your cracker with one hand and your neighbor's with the other, and pull! If you win, you get a little toy and a crown to wear during dinner.

Christmas crackers "crack" because they have a paper strip inside, called a snap, that's coated with silver fulminate — an explosive most commonly used in children's toys (like Bang Snaps or Pop Its) due to its high reactivity. But don't worry; there's low danger when it's used in small amounts.

Note: The Transportation Security Administration does not allow Christmas crackers on planes, and many airlines around the world restrict them in various ways. As with any firework, the Poison Control Center says these can be toxic if ingested, depending on the amount. Use care around pets and small children.

Christmas crackers aren't hard to make but they take a little finesse. If you're a crafty person, this project will be no sweat. For me, it took trial and error. And be aware: The cracker snaps are not easy to find. You can't just pop down to your local craft store and buy them, so plan ahead and purchase them online.

Tools Required

  • Craft mat (optional)
  • Paper cutter (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Stylus to score cardstock (optional)

Materials Required

  • Cardstock
  • Cracker snaps
  • Curling ribbon
  • Double-sided tape
  • Paper crown (see how-to in final slide)
  • Paper tubes (purchase at craft stores) or toilet paper rolls approximately 2-in. by 4-1/2 in. long
  • Small treats toys or riddles
  • Stickers or other decorations
  • Wrapping Paper

Christmas Cracker Materials 1 Ally Childress For Family Handyman JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Project step-by-step (10)

Step 1

Cut paper

  • Cut cardstock or wrapping paper into 7-in. by 12-in. rectangles.
    • Always pick a good quality wrapping paper, not the cheap stuff.
    • Christmas crackers often have reinforced ends, but I used a stiff paper instead.
  • Place paper horizontally on work surface, good side down.

using scissors to cut wrapping paper for the christmas crackerAlly Childress for family handyman

Step 2

Measure and mark

  • Measure and mark from left to right:
    • Two inches from left paper edge;
    • 3/4-in. from first mark;
    • 3/4-in. from second mark.
  • Repeat measurements and marks from the right side of the paper edge.
  • Repeat marks along the bottom of the paper.

Christmas Cracker Mark Paper 2 Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Step 3

Draw lines

  • Turn the ruler vertically, keeping paper aligned horizontally.
  • Hold ruler on the 2-in. marks.
  • Draw a vertical straight line from top to bottom of paper.
  • Move to the first 3/4-in. marks and draw a vertical line.
  • Repeat until you have six vertical lines.

Christmas Cracker Draw Lines Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Optional: If using cardstock, score the paper with a stylus instead of drawing lines. This will make it easy to fold.

Christmas Cracker Score Lines Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Step 4

Fold paper

  • Flip the paper over and fold the top flap toward you.
  • Crease the paper at each line.
    • You will have three folds on each end of the paper.

Christmas Cracker Fold 1 Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

  • Flip the paper backside up.
  • Fold and re-fold the creases accordion-style, making a triangle with each middle fold pointing up.
    • When done, this will look like two witches hats running along the folds.

Christmas Cracker Witches Hat Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Step 5

Cut triangles

  • Grab one witch hat and pick up the paper.
  • Hold the folded edge toward you.
  • Start 1/4-in. from the edge and snip a triangle from the fold to the line.

Christmas Cracker Cut Triangles 1 Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

    • Continue down the fold, snipping triangles.
    • Important: Leave about a 1/4-in. of paper flap between triangles or the cracker will fall apart.
  • Repeat on other side of cracker.

Christmas Cracker Cut Triangles 2 Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Step 6

Roll up the cracker

  • Open up the paper and place it horizontally on work surface, good side down.
    • You will see two rows of vertical diamond cutouts.
  • Place a craft paper tube in the center of the cracker between the cutouts.

Christmas Cracker Roll Up Tube Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

  • Align the paper so it will roll evenly.
  • Do a practice roll and gently direct the diamond cutouts inward.
    • It should resemble a piece of wrapped hard candy.

Christmas Cracker Push In Diamonds Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Step 7

Tape the cracker

  • Unroll and run a line of two-sided tape on top edge of paper, including cracker ends.
    • Use a glue gun or regular tape, whichever you prefer.
  • Roll up the tube again and lightly press to seal tape.
  • Make sure the cracker ends meet evenly, then press to seal.

Christmas Cracker Tape Crackerally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Step 8

Fill the cracker

  • Slide a cracker snap through the tube and tape each end to the cracker.

Christmas Cracker Insert Snap Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

  • Tie one end of the cracker with curling ribbon.
    • Don’t over-tighten; the ribbon may cut through the paper diamonds.
  • Add toys or riddles and a traditional crown, if you like to the open end of cracker tube (see how-to below).
  • Tie the end with curling ribbon, sealing the treats inside.
  • Decorate as desired.

Christmas Cracker Tie Ribbon Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Step 9

Pull the cracker!

Traditionally, crackers are pulled at Christmas dinner.

  • Get a partner;
  • Hold one end and have your partner hold the other;
    • Grab firmly or the cracker may not snap;
  • Count to three;
  • Pull!
  • If you have the majority of the cracker, the goodies are yours.

Christmas Cracker After Snapping Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for family handyman

Step 10

Make paper crowns (optional)

  • Lay a 20-in. by 30-in. sheet of tissue or wrapping paper horizontally on work surface.
  • Fold in half along the horizontal (long) axis, then in half again.
    • You should have a 30-in.-long, four-ply strip.
  • Measure your head circumference, mark the paper and cut off excess.
  • Fold in half three times and cut off the top and bottom.
  • Cut a triangle from one cut end, then a half triangle right next to it.
  • Unfold four crowns and glue ends together.