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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Crackers

These Christmas crackers are an English tradition that began in Victorian times. When you pull hard on the ends, the cracker snap POPS and there is a surprise (or a few) inside. You can put in any little prize you like: candy, whistles, toys, jokes, trinkets, jewelry - whatever will fit inside the tube. 

These are fun to make and to personalize with your own wrapping paper and prizes. You can buy the cracker snaps online. I got mine from Old English Crackers. They also sell pre-made, filled crackers and pre-made, empty crackers. 

This year I made my own crackers, using purchased cracker snaps.

What you need:
*Cracker snaps
*Toilet paper tubes or paper towel tubes
*Wrapping paper (the thinner and more papery, the better. Sturdy, metallic, or thick paper probably won't tear easily enough to snap the crackers)
*Card stock
*Hot glue gun

1. Cut the wrapping paper into 7" x 12" pieces, one piece per cracker.

2. Lay out a piece of paper and glue on the snap the long way. Don't glue the middle of the snap. Place one tube on the paper, close to the edge. Glue the tube close to the edge of the paper. 

3. Now place two more tubes on either end as rolling placeholders (these two will be removed). Make a line of glue the short way, lined up with the center of the middle tube (skipping over the snap).  

Roll the three tubes tightly in the paper. The paper will wrap completely around the tubes and be glued onto the middle tube only. The other tubes are just helping to make a nicely shaped cracker.  

4. Apply glue all along the overlapping long edge and press it down. Remove the two placeholder tubes from each end.

5. Now put cardstock in each end so the crackers stay round instead of being crumpled up on the ends. Cut two pieces of cardstock for each cracker, about 2" x 7". Make sure there will be a space between the middle tube and the cardstock - that's where we will cinch the cracker and tie a ribbon around it. 

Roll up a strip of cardstock and slide it into one end of the cracker. Apply glue between the cardstock and the wrapping paper to attach them. Let the cardstock unroll inside the wrapping paper and then glue in between the overlapping layers of cardstock. Press with your fingers.

6. Gently crimp the cracker in between the cardboard tube and the cardstock. 

Tie ribbon around the cracker. 

7. Place a prize inside (or a few!). Maybe a penguin with a parachute...

Or a jingle bell.

8. Crimp the second end and tie a ribbon around it. 

You could choose a certain wrapping paper for each recipient and fill the crackers with personalized prizes. Or use pretty labels to mark them. 

Are Christmas crackers one of your traditions? Do you think you might give them a try this year?

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