I have always loved making Christmas crackers, but this year I have decided that, rather than spending all that time and effort on something gorgeous that will inevitably be thrown away, I would pour my efforts into something that could be reused. This appeals, not just from an environmental perspective, but from wanting to put time and effort into something beautiful that will endure.
They pull apart just like traditional crackers, with the two halves held in place by elastic. You can even add velcro dots for a bit of resistance and extra “tug of war” effect!
I have made several different options. You can adapt depending on the material you can get hold of, but the basics are:
• postal tubes cut in half to make 2. Mine were 5cm diameter and 24cm in length – cut in half with a small hack saw to give a final length of 12cm.
• cracker bangs
• organza in any colour you fancy – great because it doesn’t stain or crease too much.
• paper or paint to match the colour of your organza
• a variety of ribbons and trims for tying and trimming
• wide glitter elastic
• velcro dots (optional)
• die-cut wooden letters or hearts to personalise
I get my trims from Bombay Stores. They have the MOST AMAZING collection of Indian trims I have ever seen. Every one makes me want to find a project to use it for. However, they do not sell them online, so unless you live in West Yorkshire, you will probably need to search. Here are a few other good sellers I have come across:
The key to holding your crackers together is elastic! There are some fabulous wide glitter elastics on the market like these above that you can find on Etsy – it will need to be at least 3 – 4 cm wide. Anything wider is fine too.
For the personalised finishing touches I found some lovely die cut wooden decorations. Boyes is brilliant for these kind of craft supplies and they are always well priced. There are sticky back letters or these elegant little hearts onto which you can write a name (TOP TIP: don’t use Sharpie because it bleeds terribly. A biro works well.)
• Start by either painting or covering your cardboard tubes in the same colour as your organza.
I used two strips of double sided sticky tape. One to anchor the beginning and the other to hold the end of the sheet of paper.
• Cut rectangles of organza roughly twice the length of your tube and wide enough to wrap around the tube with a bit of seam allowance. You will need TWO of these per cracker because they meet and overlap in middle allowing your cracker to pull apart.
• Trim the ends of your organza pieces with lace or ribbon. I used a zigzag stitch for ease and speed. Anchor with a few backstitches to stop it unravelling.
• Add your wider decorative trim near the other end. Where you will place it exactly depends on the width of your elastic and the width of your tube, but your two organza ends want to overlap in the middle by about an inch. (Don’t worry – the unsightly overlap will be covered by elastic.) Pin the trim in place and use a wide zigzag stitch to attach it to the organza layer.
• Sew up the sides of your organza tube. It should be sized to slip on and off your tube easily without being baggy.
• Cut a length of elastic to fit exactly around your tube – no overlap. When you sew up the ends it will pull just a bit tight and hold everything in place.
• Thread both organza ends onto your tube and hold them in place with your ring of elastic. If you want to, you can add some velcro dots to the two organza ends to hold them together more tightly and create create more resistance as the crackers are being pulled.
You can personlise with these sticky back laser cut wood letters or you can write names yourself. They are stuck on with these super-easy sticky dots.
• Thread your cracker bangs into the tube along with gifts and hats – don’t forget the jokes! Tie up the ends with ribbon and ta da! All done!