December 12, 2012

christmas cracker diy

Crackers are one of my favorite English Christmas traditions. These beautifully wrapped, bon bon-shaped parcels are laid about the Christmas dinner table, and once everyone is seated but before the meal is served, they are grabbed from either end by eager hands and pulled apart with a loud snap! to reveal the goodies concealed inside, with the spoils going to the hand that comes away with the biggest piece of cracker (much like a wishbone). Good ol’ fashioned Christmas competition – you can’t beat it!

Traditional Christmas crackers are wrapped up in festive holiday paper and contain a paper crown (which must be worn throughout the meal), a cheesy joke, and other tacky little goodies that are just plain delightful for delightfulness’s sake. Homemade crackers, on the other hand, can be customized every which way, from the decoration to the filling (I’ve even heard of one being used for a marriage proposal with the ring hidden inside). In a break with tradition, I decided to make my cracker using a page from my favorite fashion magazine. The gold color scheme, sparkly ribbon and paper crown, however, keep it festive enough for the Christmas table.

Christmas Cracker
makes one cracker

You’ll need:

3 short cardboard tubes
1 page from a large format fashion magazine (like Harper’s Bazaar) or wrapping paper cut to size
1 cracker snap
2 pieces of ribbon (sparkly or otherwise)
paper crown
Assorted goodies (chocolate coins, lip gloss, key chains, etc.)
A cheesy joke written on a piece of paper (a cracker without a joke is like a fortune cookie without a fortune)

The first step is to center your cracker snap inside one of the cardboard tubes and secure it with two pieces of tape.

Align two cardboard tubes on either side of the first tube so that the cracker snap runs through all three tubes. (These extra tubes help the cracker keep its shape during assembly.) Lay your magazine tear sheet on a flat surface, picture side down. Center the tubes along one of the long edges of the sheet and begin rolling – just enough so you can tape the sheet to the central tube. (Do not tape it to the outer tubes as you will remove them later.)

Stick three pieces of double-sided tape* along the opposite edge of the sheet. Keep rolling the tube until the paper roll is sealed shut.

*(You don’t need to buy double-sided tape. Just roll a piece of tape, sticky side out, into a little tube and flatten it.)

Slide one of the end tubes out slightly to create a small gap between it and the central tube. Use your fingers to smoosh down the paper in between the tubes. Repeat on the other side.

Wrap a piece of ribbon around the gap and tie it closed. Add an extra flourish of ribbon if that’s what your heart is telling you.

Fill your cracker with the assorted goodies. Don’t forget your joke and paper crown!

Tie the other end of the cracker closed with your second piece of ribbon. Remove the end tubes and trim down the cracker snap to the edge of the paper.

Happy snapping!