Easy-to-make Christmas crackers hit the spot

Make Christmas more meaningful with handmade versions of mass-produced bonbons.

The Christmas cracker is part of a yuletide tradition that refuses to lose its appeal across the generations. It’s also the one time that everyone agrees to a silly-hat look.

The 50/50 chance that you will ‘pull’ up a little gift makes it all the more fun. But if, like me, you’re tired of the useless novelty items that end up being swept up with all the rubbish the next day, then it’s time to make your own bonbons.

Retailers such as Spotlight offer kits to get the DIY crackers off to an easy start. But if you want to create your own template, there are dozens of techniques, from the highly ornate to the plain and simple.

I like the one from Olde English Crackers because it has instructions on how to place the snap. That is the thin cardboard strip impregnated with a chemical that produces a snapping sound when pulled in opposite directions. Although crazy cheap, they are not easy to come by in Australia, unless you order online from a number of suppliers listed on eBay.com.au.

The same goes for paper hats. For a handful of dollars you can buy packs of 10, 30 or 100 from online store Fruugo Australia. Here is a list of what you need:

  • wrapping paper (cut to 19cm x 30cm) – crackers made with light weight papers will tear apart easier when pulled
  • fortunes, jokes or riddles or small gifts or novelty items (at least one per cracker)
  • cracker snaps and paper hats
  • cracker rollers (1 pair)
  • cardboard tubes (2.5cm x 10cm) tubes from plastic wrap or aluminium foil rolls are ideal
  • curling ribbon
  • scissors and a low temperature glue gun
  • and if you are really fussy about finishing off the bonbons professionally, invest in stiffener ends made of white card stock.


To make the Christmas bonbons:

1. Insert rollers into ends of cardboard tube (if fit between tube and roller is not snug enough, add a little masking tape to smaller or red end of roller).

2. Lay roller-tube assembly on back of wrapping paper making certain tube is centred across length of paper. Apply a small drop of glue from glue gun to bottom middle edge of paper and roll tube back over glue.

3. Place snap under front (leading) edge of roller-tube assembly, making certain snap is centred across length of paper.

4. Roll paper onto roller-tube assembly to within a half inch or so of paper’s end. Make certain paper rolls evenly (straight) onto tube.

5. With glue gun, run a narrow bead of glue along back of paper about a quarter inch in from top edge. Roll paper over glue keeping glued seam pressed against work surface for several seconds to allow glue to harden (placement of glue bead may have to be adjusted slightly inward if glue flows out of seam onto outer surface of wrapping paper).

6. While holding paper cylinder in middle (one hand grasping cardboard tube), remove roller from each end of cylinder.

7. Roll stiffener end into slightly smaller diameter cylinder than cracker and insert into end of cracker until even with outer edge. Do not cover snap during this procedure — it must remain free in end of cracker.

8. Spread stiffener out firmly against inside wall of cracker end and glue into place with glue gun.

9. Repeat step 8 on other end of cracker.

10. Using thumb and forefinger, crimp (gather) one end of cracker between tube and reinforced (stiffened) end.

11. Securely tie a 10–12 inch length of curling ribbon onto the gather of the cracker using a double knot. Then clip off the loose ribbon ends.

12. Insert gifts/messages into open end of the cracker. The fillable central part of the cracker measures two inches in diameter by four inches in length. Your items must fit comfortably into this space in order for the cracker to be closed and finished. When filling your crackers, make certain you do not push the cracker snap into the centre of the cracker.

13. Repeat steps 11 and 12 for open end of cracker.

14. Check the finished end of the cracker to make certain the snap is located near the outer rim of the cracker and not too far down into the cylinder. Reposition with fingers as necessary.

Your Christmas bonbon is now finished.

To see the illustrations of each step, visit the site. If you do not have a glue gun and some of the other equipment listed, you may find alternative instructions on craft websites such as Etsy.

Do you prefer to make your own Christmas adornments because they show your good intentions? Or do you find it isn’t worth the time, especially when these products can be bought so cheaply? Do you have any instructions for other homemade Christmas paraphernalia?

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