Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Christmas dinner isn't Christmas dinner without one or more people donning a paper crown and telling a bad joke or two, care of good cheer, alcohol and the once humble Christmas cracker. But the cost of providing these simple pleasures to your Christmas guests seems to have sky rocketed out of proportion to the turkey and trimmings. Fight cracker inflation by making your own – they're far easier to make than a Christmas dinner, and making your own means you can regulate the quality of the jokes and favours.
One of the hardest steps in the cracker production process is one that happens before you actually sit down to make your crackers. It's the gathering together of the materials. For really thrifty crackers you need to plan ahead and start collecting toilet rolls quite a few months in advance - depending on the size of your household. You need two rolls per cracker, so work it out backwards and stockpile accordingly.
Other pre-production tasks also include sourcing the bad, old jokes – I suggest you ask your Grandad for some – buying your sweets and favours, choosing the gift wrap and ribbon you want to use to decorate the outside of your crackers and ordering your cracker snaps. If you want to make your own party hats or crowns to put inside your crackers then you also need to buy yourself some crepe paper.
As far as treats and favours go it's really up to you what gems you fill your crackers with. Anything smaller than a toilet roll is fair game. It's a nice touch if you choose favours to suit each guest, but it's also fun to fill them randomly so that you don't know what anyone's going to get so that some people end up with totally unsuitable gifts (they can swap after all!). Some cracker filler suggestions are: novelty keyrings, paste jewellery, decorated hair clips and slides, comedy magnets, a miniature magnifying glass, toy soldiers, farm animals or dinosaurs, a space pen - or other small pen or pencil, a pair of underwear, a sewing kit, a mini bottle of liquor, stationary items like a pencil sharpener or eraser, a lip balm or eye shadow, bits of trivia to test the rest of the table with and/ or all manner of sweets and lollies.
Step 1: Once you've amassed all your 'ingredients', the first step is to separate your toilet rolls into two piles and cut one pile in half so that they're still tubes, just shorter. Glue your toilet rolls onto your paper – gift wrap works well – with a short roll, then a space, then a long roll and a space then the final short roll. Then cut your paper so that it forms a fitted paper tube around your toilet rolls.
Step 2: Pass a cracker snap though the centre of the tube and attach it to the smaller sections of toilet roll at either end using sticky tape, then tie one end of your cracker closed by taping up the space between one smaller tube and one end of the larger tube.
Step 3: Fill your cracker with joy. This includes at least one bad joke per cracker. It's not a real cracker unless it's got a joke in it.
Step 4: Tape up the space at the other end of the long piece of toilet roll and tie bows of ribbon around each of the taped ends. If you'd like your crackers to be a bit more decorative, then now's your chance to glue sequins, pictures you've cut from magazines or from your wrapping paper, or other pretty bits and pieces to the outside of your crackers.
The final step is to lay them on the table and watch them all crack open with a satisfying snap! Don't be tempted to spoil the jokes by getting in with the punchlines before your guests – if your jokes are bad/ good enough then your other guests should be able to guess them...
What a fun craft idea! I know that crackers are traditional during the winter holiday season, but are they ever made for other occasions? I love the idea of making up little gifts for family and friends. Are they typically made only in the UK for children or for all ages to enjoy? Thanks for the tips.
I think they're part of Christmas in many countries - I've seen them sold in German Christmas markets and in Austria and Italy as well. And we always had them in Australia. It's an ingenious idea to make them for other occasions as well - instead of party bags for birthday parties that sort of thing. Good thinking.