Crackers are a much-loved British tradition that are enjoyed in many parts throughout the world as an essential component of any good Christmas celebration. If you're not familiar with Christmas crackers, they're basically a paper-based bon-bon that two people pull apart, making a bang and revealing small gifts, jokes and paper crowns. Crackers are a lot of fun to make, and you can personalise them with handmade gifts for your recipients. In this step-by-step tutorial, you'll learn how to create your own Christmas crackers from scratch.
- Holiday-themed gift wrap or colored card (I used Rifle Paper's Christmas Greens wrap)
- Precision knife
- Cutting mat
- Cracker snaps
- Transparent adhesive tape
- Tissue paper
- Gold marker or metallic paint and paint brush
- Paper tags
- Twine or ribbon
- Kraft paper
- Washi tape
- Downloadable template
- A4 white paper and printer
1. Create the Crackers
First you need to cut your wrapping paper in to sheets of 18cm x 28 cm (7in x 11 in). These dimensions are the size of the crackers if you print the pattern on to an A4 sheet. Place the cutting mat on your working surface, and place the wrapping paper on top, with the printed side facing downwards.
Now calculate and mark the dimensions and cut using a cutter and a ruler as a guide. If you are using colored card in A4 size, you don't need to trim it yet, just use the A4 as it is.
Create as many paper sheets as the crackers required. You can create up to 15 crackers with the wrapping paper I used.
Click on the template image to get the right size file, which can also be printed in black and white to avoid wasting ink. The white areas in the template represent the parts that need to be cut out. Print out the template as many times as you need in an A4 paper size. You could also print it on to the back side of your wrapping paper.
Place the wrapping paper back on the cutting mat, with your printed template placed on top. Make sure the border of the wrapping paper aligns perfectly with the outer borders of the template. When you're happy with the positioning, use sticky tape to keep the paper secure. The best way is to place the tape diagonally on all corners, making sure the paper is completely flat.
Use your precision knife to carefully cut out the two rows of rhombus holes. This is the trickiest bit, where more patience is required, so hold tight.
When all the holes are done, cut out the rest of the pieces to create the correct outline of the cracker, as demonstrated below. Well done!
Now it's time to fold your individual crackers. Using a ruler for guidance, fold along the dotted lines of the template.
Fold the rhombus zone inwards and crease well.
Lay the cracker flat on the surface. The folded areas should look like this.
Now pick up one long side of the cracker and roll it towards the other side. The rhombus cuts will allow the paper to form a bon-bon shape instead of a tube.
Secure the cracker in place by inserting the tabs in place. Leave it closed, while you prepare the rest of your goodies, so that it settles in the shape. Repeat the same procedure to make as many crackers as your guests at the dinner table. Nicely done!
2. Make the Paper Crowns
Cut off a strip of tissue paper about 9cm (3.5in) in width. Use the whole length of the package of tissue paper.
Fold the strip accordion-style and then trim the top by creating zig-zag cuts (or cut out triangular shapes).
Separate each tissue paper strip. Add a festive decorative touch to your crowns with a gold marker. You can make circles, dots, lines or just add some gold accents along the top of the crowns. I used metallic gold acrylic paint and a paint brush. It works well for washy-gold accents, but a pen is more suitable for precision designs.
When the designs are ready and dry, trim the strips of tissue paper. They need to be about 60cm (23.6in) long. If you plan to make some crowns for kids, just make them a bit smaller. Then overlap the two ends and join them together with sticky tape to form a circle.
When ready, fold the tissue paper crowns neatly so they can fit inside the cracker.
3. Prepare the Jokes
Cut small strips of kraft paper using either scissors or a cutter. Write down a joke on each slip of paper. You can find some Christmas crackers joke ideas here or here. Roll the paper up into a small tube and close with some washi tape. Done!
4. Add the Snaps
The crackers in this tutorial are slightly smaller than your average cracker as the template needed to be printed on to A4 paper. However, this means that you will need to slightly trim the snaps to fit the length of each cracker.
Open up the cracker. Fold the two ends of the snap (around half an inch) and glue them down inside the cracker, along the long side.
5. Fill and Close the Crackers
When the snaps are firmly glued in place, it's time to fill your crackers with all the goodies. Place one folded crown and one joke in to the main body of each cracker. Then you can add some small gifts, like some wrapped sweets or chocolate coins. But if you'd like to include some handmade treats, why not check out some of our craft tutorials:
When all the crackers are full of handmade goodness, roll them up. Close them securely by tucking the central tab into the cut-out slot.
Gently close the edges in the same way.
If you have personalized crackers, it is helpful to add name tags so everybody gets the correct gift. Write the names of your guests on the kraft paper tags.
Now tie gently the two ends of the cracker with some twine or ribbon.
Attach the tags directly after closing each cracker to avoid any mistakes. Good job, well done!
Pull Your Crackers and Enjoy!
Your crackers are now ready to be pulled. You'll surprise your friends and family and bring even more joy to your Christmas dinner table. Well done!
In this tutorial, you learned how to create your own handmade crackers from scratch. You learned how to cut and fold the paper to create the cracker. You can also use this skill to make some bon-bon-shaped gift packages out of colored card. You also learned how to make some quick and easy paper crowns, which is a handy skill you can use again for party planning.
Are you going to make your own Christmas crackers this year? What will you put inside them? Looking forward to hearing all your comments, and happy Christmas to you all!