Here at Wrapped in Newspaper we try to avoid the trappings of a consumerist, commercialised Christmas. We don’t want stuff for the sake of stuff that will only get thrown away once its novelty has worn off. Christmas crackers are a excellent example of this. The shop bought ones can be a pretty table decoration and lets be honest Christmas day wouldn’t be the same without pulling a cracker over dinner. But inside the crackers are full of weird plastic toys or tiny packs of cards that we leave lying around for a few days before they meet their inevitable fate of the rubbish bin.
However, taking the moral high ground over our throw away culture does not mean missing out on the fun! (It just requires a bit more work.) So book yourself a day off, call in sick or get someone else to clean the house and cook you dinner this weekend, and make your own Christmas crackers from rubbish! (Well mostly.)
For me, I want five things from a Christmas cracker:
a pretty table decoration
a good snap-bang when you pull them
a really bad joke
a party hat
and a toy.
This is what you will need to get your ethical Christmas cracker fix:
For the bad jokes:
Any old scrap paper (I had just got my first Christmas card through the door so decided to use the red envelope it came in)
A really good knowledge of bad jokes / Google
For the paper hats:
A few sheets of a newspaper
For the origami toy:
Old envelopes (Envelopes from bank statements or bills are great as they have pretty blue patterns inside, perfect for origami paper)
An unrivalled knowledge of simple origami / an origami book / Google
For the cracker itself:
Old toilet rolls (you will need 2 more than the number of crackers you want to make)
Thick paper (this could be an old magazine, last years reclaimed wrapping paper or any thick scrap paper, I didn’t have any lying around so bought 3 sheets of recycled wrapping paper from Mulk)
Cracker snaps (you can find these in craft shops or on ebay)
Ribbon or string (this is perfect for old scraps of ribbon, I used some of the ribbon I’d bought for wrapping presents with the view that I can reuse it for crackers year after year)
Craft knife, cutting matt and steel ruler
Glue, tape or stickers
A pen and pencil
To be honest with you whilst the origami toys are probably my favourite part of these crackers, they by far took the most time to make. I had thought about putting a pine cone or some sweets in the crackers which would have been much easier but I couldn’t resist trying out my idea of envelope origami.
Lets begin with the easiest bit, the bad jokes.
Find some scrap paper and cut it up into small rectangles.
I decided to write jokes on one side and fun facts on the other. So get googling ‘bad Christmas cracker jokes’.
That’s it, all done. Set them aside and make a start on the origami toys. The idea behind these is that it each cracker has some patterned paper and a set of instructions to make an origami toy. Made from old envelopes there is no extra Christmas waste created but lots of fun.
Cut old envelopes up into squares. Match the length of the square to your toilet roll as you want them to fit inside without folding them.
I actually can’t believe how pretty they look! To think I normally put them straight into recycling! Some of these squares have writing on the back but I’m not too worried about that.
I searched online for simple origami instructions and sketched them out myself. (This was the time consuming bit!!!) Set aside the patterned paper and instructions and get someone to bring you a cup of tea and a snack for all that hard work. Only the hats and crackers left, which are both pretty quick and easy.
(Yes I made them all as I wrote the instructions… I couldn’t resist)
Find your self a colourful sheet of newspaper. Keep the sheet folded in half and cut in half and half again. (Again keeping in mind that the hat should fit into the toilet roll.)
Open each piece out and fold the two ends into the centre. Stick down with glue, tape or some colourful stickers.
Fold each piece up. I varied folding them into quarters, fifths or sixths so that each hat would be a little bit different.
Snip the top off at an angle, again I varied the angle to make them all slightly different.
Open them out, try them on, or just set aside with the jokes and origami instructions.
Now onto the crackers. I think its bets to get everything into the toilet roll before you start making the crackers. Divvy up your cracker fillers, hat, joke and origami, roll them up together and put inside the tube. If you are putting sweets or something larger in, leave this out for now.
Next cut up your thick paper into approximately 30 cm x 20 cm pieces. I cut my wrapping paper sheets into four and this gave me about the right size and meant there was no waste. I used a craft knife, steel ruler and cutting matt for a nice straight edge but you could just use scissors.
Next you you need to slightly weaken the cracker at each end. Position the toilet roll at the centre of the long edge of the paper. Make a pencil mark to each side of the tube, roughly where the ribbon will be tied.
If you have a paper perforator, brilliant now is the time to use it and think, I knew this would come in handy one day! If not, lightly score down the width of the paper in a straight line from where you make the pencil marks.
Now securely fix the cracker snap near to the top of the paper. This bit is very important because when you pull the cracker the snap will want to come unstuck and then it won’t go bang and that would be upsetting for everyone. So use some extra strength glue or super sticky tape and make sure your cracker snap isn’t going anywhere.
Using the two extra toilet rolls to help keep the shape, roll up your cracker.
I then tied some ribbon around it to hold it in place for now.
Now tie the ends with ribbon or string. I found this bit really hard, maybe because my paper was quite thick or maybe because it hurt me inside to crumple up such pretty paper but pull at the ribbon firmly but carefully so as not to tear the paper. If you are putting sweets or bigger objects in, place them inside once you have tied up one end, then tie up the other.
Remove the temporary ribbon and if yours looks like mine, stick the middle down with a bit of glue or a pretty sticker.
Ta dah!!!!! Its so pretty my eyes hurt!
I went for mix and match colours that are a little bit festive and a little bit cool!
Everyone is going to think you are super amazing when you crack these lads out on Christmas Day. (Argh cracker pun!)
So say good bye to expensive shop bought crackers, plastic tat and excess waste. Make your own Christmas crackers with rubbish, some recycled paper and a little bit of crafty magic!