Christmas crackers are a fun holiday tradition that even dates back more than 150 years. Sprouting from the idea of a bon-bon and the crackling of a fire, combining into a fun, fancy, and collaborative dinner table activity during Christmas. But when you buy today’s modern version of this historic cracker, they come packaged in plastic and contain cheap little plastic trinkets.
Making them yourself is a way to avoid all the waste, and repurpose some fun materials while you are at it! This is a little tutorial on making a low waste Christmas Cracker using recycled paper, toilet paper rolls, and handmade sustainably sourced fillers.
DIY Christmas Crackers
Recycled paper – think old magazines, calendars ending in 10 days, reused wrapping paper, paper packaging Toilet paper rolls Extra white and coloured paper Natural Ornaments Fair Trade chocolate or candy Yarn or twine
Ruler Pencil Scissors
MakingDIY Christmas Crackers
Place your toilet paper roll on your chosen Christmas cracker wrapper. Mine is made from a paper I kept that I received in a package from a company called Earth Greetings. It was such a beautiful paper I couldn’t help but use it for these DIY Christmas crackers. Roll the paper overtop of the roll until it overlaps slightly. If the paper is longer, cut it so it is only about a quarter inch longer than around the roll.
Pattern side down, measure three inches on either side of the roll and draw a line. On my paper wrapping, I decided to cut diamonds to make the folding easier because my paper is a little thicker than usual. If you’d like you can skip this next part and go right to tying the first end, skip to step 5. Skipping to step 5 will result in more rustic looking crackers.
From the 3” mark, measure one inch towards the edge of the paper. Draw a line. In between these two lines, draw 8 diamond shapes (mine has 7 but 8 or more work better), plus half diamonds on the paper ends. Cut the diamonds out either by using an exacto knife, or creasing the paper and cutting the folded edge. This will help the paper make that nice cylindrical shape when tying the ends together.
Next, crease the inside edges of the cut out diamonds by using a ruler. Crease both ends. Then flip the paper over so the patterned side is facing up. Crease the outside edges of the diamonds using a ruler. Now your paper should look like this and be much easier to fold.
Now you are ready to roll! Place the roll in the middle of the creased edges. Begin rolling the tube in the paper and place a very small piece of tape to hold it in place. I did try to do this without tape, and sadly, it does not work well.
Once rolling is complete, place another small piece of tape to secure the edge.
Cut your chosen string and place the diamond cutouts over top of it. Tie the string around it, cinching the paper together. For now, only tie one end, you still need to fill the cracker with goodies!
DIY Christmas Cracker Filler Ideas
There are many low waste options for filling these Christmas crackers, and you could choose accordingly appropriate for your audience. Typically a store bought Christmas Cracker contains a paper crown, a small toy, and a Christmas riddle.
Here are some ideas to explore that will help you get started!
Handwritten Christmas jokes
Snowflake patterns ready for cutting!
Zero waste ornaments (think wooden beads, dried and cookie cutter pressed fruit, cinnamon sticks, silver painted leaves)
Small Fair Trade Chocolates like Alter Eco (which also has compostable packaging)
Candy in compostable or foil wrapping (foil wrapping can be recycled)
Bags of tea
Packages of hot chocolate
Dog or cat treats
Place your chosen items inside the tube. I chose to make fun snowflake patterns, drawn onto a pre-folded square piece of paper, ready for cutting! You can find many patterns for beautiful paper snowflakes on Pinterest. I also found a few fun and cheesy Christmas jokes and included those as well (a Christmas cracker Tradition)!
Once you have included all the contents you would like, you are ready to tie the second end to close the cracker. Before you do, if you want your Christmas crackers to “pop” when you pull on it, you will need to add Christmas cracker snaps, which can be found at places like Michaels. I decided not to include them to avoid packaging. It can be fun even without the “pop”.
When you are ready, place another string under the diamond shapes on the open end of the roll. Tie the string together to cinch the paper.
As an optional extra step, name tags can be easily tied on or if the paper you are using is plain, it could be decorated.
And that’s it! I loved creating these Christmas crackers because they are customizable and not filled with junk or plastic! So, you can still carry out the fun Christmas cracker tradition, without creating the waste.