Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas crackers

I love the idea of making my own crackers, complete with personalised gifts, but after a few unsuccessful attempts years ago it seemed like one of those good ideas that should remain just that - an idea. Then along came Cartridge Save ...

They have provided some instructions and ideas for handmade Christmas decorations and crackers on their website and have been running a Christmas cracker competition so I thought I'd take the plunge and have one more go!

This is what I needed to get started.


I printed off the instructions, asked family to start collecting toilet roll tubes, made a bracelet, made a poinsettia decoration, tracked down some unused hats and jokes and ordered some cracker snaps. Finally, I needed some double-sided tape, ribbon and 3D foam to put it all together.
 Once I had everything ready I could get start making the cracker.

The first step is to take 2 toilet roll tubes and cut one in half. Cut the wrapping paper to approximately 20cm x 30cm. I used quite wide toilet roll tubes but if you use skinny ones the short side of the paper will need to be less than 20cm. Allow enough to go round the toilet roll once with a couple of centimetres overlap.
Score 10cm in from each end of the long side of the paper and also lightly score 7cm in from each end.
Lay the snap along the long side of the paper near the top and secure with glue or strong double-sided tape at each end. It needs to be stuck firmly enough at both ends to be forced to pull apart at the centre and not just come loose at one end when the cracker is pulled.
I then used double-sided tape to stick the paper to the toilet roll tubes, keeping the gaps between the tubes glue-free. I tried placing the tubes along the bottom edge of the paper and also in the middle. Both worked but I personally found it easier to keep the cracker straight when I started with the tubes in the centre. I also placed the hat and joke inside the central tube before rolling the paper.

Once the paper was rolled I stuck down the overlap using double-sided tape, twisted one end of the cracker (made easier by previously scoring 7cm from the end) and tied it with a ribbon. By tying the ribbon in a bow it can be saved and used again for next year's crackers.

I filled the cracker, twisted and sealed the other end and could have left it there. The wrapping paper is so elegant the cracker didn't really need decorating.

Just for something extra I layered up a poinsettia that I had stamped 3 times onto red card and gave it golden highlights. I then stuck the poinsettia to a 3cm x 21cm strip of green card, wrapped it round the centre of the cracker and stuck the green strip together to make a removable ring.

Once the cracker has been pulled the poinsettia decoration can be used as a serviette ring or saved for next year's crackers.
There's always someone who doesn't wear their party hat so any unused hats as well as the jokes, ribbons and poinsettias can be put in a box ready for next year's makes. With the gifts having been chosen with the recipients in mind it's unlikely that they can be saved for next year but that leaves a good excuse to make some more!

Will I be making more crackers in the future? Yes. Getting the toilet roll tubes to line up and roll neatly was a bit fiddly at first but it got easier with practice. The crackers themselves were inexpensive to make and some of the elements can be re-used, making them even cheaper and more environmentally friendly. The wider tubes that I used could hold quite a big present that I knew would actually be wanted and - best of all - there was a very satisfying bang when the crackers were pulled!

So thank you Cartridge Save for encouraging me to have one more go at making my own crackers. I still have lots of snaps so I could be making crackers for New Year, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries ...