My love of traditional English Christmas Crackers (the paper sort, not the edible sort) has been well documented. Since it takes two people to open one they seem like a good choice as a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day as well. (With my apologies to traditionalists, sorry about that.)
I found the supplies I needed at a local shop and decided it was meant to be. I added a few decorative details in my instructions below that can be skipped to make it easier. All you really need are a tube (a paper towel tube will work great), some cracker snaps (a specialty crafts store should have them), some decorative paper (crepe or tissue paper) to wrap it all up in and some fun little things to put inside. I decided to go for a few handmade details:
I gathered cardboard tubes, double-sided crepe paper (red/pink), some decorative paper for the details that came in the form of a few different food treat bags, sticker paper that I drew on using colorful pens and markers, cracker snaps, candy and some wooden coin shapes that I turned into tokens.
First: the fun stuff that goes inside
I decided that some lovely IOUs in the form of tokens would be pretty sweet and redeemable when needed. I included a kiss, a hug and one set of dishes (a set for each person). There are a few other things I can think of including “come help me carry groceries in from the car when it’s pouring outside even though you’re already wearing soft pants” and “bring in the empty trash cans on Friday night even though it’s pouring outside” and “be the one to responsibly turn off all the lights in the house even though we are both so sleepy”, but hugs and kisses seemed easier to request in an area under two inches.
I used a 1 and 3/8th inch hole punch for the circles. I drew the token fronts onto sticker paper and used a roughly clipped template to create the starburst pattern.
I punched out and glued zig-zag pattern onto the back side using a regular old glue stick.
I included some candy and put it into skinny plastic sleeves. Message hearts, themed M&Ms and heart shaped candies. You might also include a small sparkler that shows how many Valentine’s days you’ve been together. (And, I responsibly add: only light it outdoors. Perhaps with glasses of bubbly in hand?)
I especially love the way these candy hearts turned out in the plastic sleeves. They are from a silly wind-up heart toy and candy tube combination. I let the wind up toy walk all the way off our dining room table.
Next: wrapping it up
I decided to use a sturdy double-sided crepe paper and decorative paper for both the center wrap and inside the ends. For me this came in the form of food treat bags I found at a packaging store. I hand decorated larger circle stickers for the label and used decorative wire twist ties to secure the ends. I used double sided tape to secure the paper when needed.
The crepe wasn’t wide enough to cover the tube so I needed to overlap two layers. Make sure the crepe will wrap around the tube once with a 1 inch overlap.
Cut the crepe to the width of the tube plus 10 inches — 2 inches on each side for the outer tube and 3 inches for the part that is gathered. If you use a narrower tube (like a paper towel tube) you might need less.
Glue the decorative paper to the inside of the wrapping paper using double sided tape.
Trim the decorative paper.
If needed trim your crepe so that the overlapping edge will fall around the middle and later be hidden by the decorative wrap and secure with a bit of double sided tape.
Wrap your tube and secure with double sided tape. (I’m having a love affair with double sided tape, can you tell?)
Use a square of said double sided tape to secure the outer corners.
Place one of the snaps inside and gather and pinch one end, secure with a twist tie or waxed cord. Make sure that one end of your snap is sticking out — overcompensate here, you can pull it back to center it out later on.
From the open end place the fun things inside!
Gather the other end and secure with twist tie or waxed cord. Double check to make sure that each end had part of the snap that can be grabbed, recenter it if needed.
Roll the tube so that the seam of the paper is in the back then wrap your decorative paper around the center and secure with a big ol’ sticker. You are done.