Not Martha

to make: party crackers

party crackers

cracker steps

the stuff
I gathered together colored construction paper, tissue paper, snaps, craft glue (Sobo and Tacky Glue are both good) and goodies to put inside.

the snap
this is the middle part of the snap where the friction strip is

cut down tube
the length of the interior tube needs to be shorter than snaps

leave enough length for the snap
I cut the roll to give the snap about three inches (1.5 per side) extra length

measure roll
I made the roll wide enough to fit some of the things I planned to put inside

extra tissue paper lenth
making sure the ends of the snap have plenty of length on either end of the tube – the tissue paper outside needs to extend past the snap because it will be gathered later on — more than in this photo

beads of glue to secure to tube
I put some glue on the roll

roll on
and rolled on the first layer of tissue paper – notice how much room I left at the end, I was guessing but it worked out well, I left this much at both ends, it was pretty much the width of the tissue paper

add glue where tube in underneath
I tacked down the first layer of tissue paper with some beads of glue, I only glued as wide as the tube, the ends will be gathered later and this (hopefully) will make it easier

second layer of decorative tissue paper
I rolled on the second layer of tissue paper – which was slightly shorter to show off the colors – and folded the outer edge over to give it a clean look

fold edge and glue down
again with adding glue only where the tube underneath is

add snap
put the snap in first, I just let it sit loosely inside and secured it with the ends later — if you want to secure it to the inside do it at the middle point where the friction strip is, if you secure anywhere else you won’t be able to pull it later (ask my why I know this)

crinkle
crinkle the end shut

close
and tie off

lookie!
view inside

eat sugary snacks
take a pudding break

fill
fill with goodies

tie one end
tie off other end, being sure the ends of the snap are given enough room to be grasped

yay
tada!

I hadn’t ever seen a party cracker until I was in college. These are one of those things I completely freaked out over, how fabulous – I love things that combine surprise and destruction and the need for two people to open it! My mother got a box from an imports store. Traditionally the crackers were favors at Christmas parties – Absolutely Crackers has a complete history for you. As far as I know they usually contain a charm, a joke and a tissue paper crown. The cracker is basically a tube filled with goodies, tied at both ends, and inside is a snap, a strip of cardboard with a friction spot which makes a loud popping noise when pulled from both ends. It takes two people to open, you grab ahold of the end of the cracker or just the end of the snap and pull POP yay!

I bought a make-your-own cracker kit from a great little store around here – Wishbone (tragically, without website). They came with snaps glued to the inside of the tube, all one had to do was fill the tube and shut it. It is just as easy to make your own – you just need the snaps.

There are two places I know of you can order snaps from. One is here in the US – Olde English Crackers – the order form is on the first page – (they also have a page on what is, how to open, and history of). The other is Absolutely Crackers which is located in the UK but I have have heard good things about their shipping times. They have components (snaps, hats, jokes). They also have fill your own and make your own kits. Both places sell prefilled crackers, as well as offering crackers you can fill yourself and special wedding crackers. Plum Party sells silver foil wrapped crackers too, filled with confetti and whistles!

Here are some illustrated instructions on how to make a basic cracker out of a paper towel roll and tissue paper. Here are some instructions with interesting pictures. This site has christmas cracker jokes. About.com has instructions too. I like Oriental Trading Company and US Toy for small toys to fill the crackers with, and I also like the large colorful confetti which come (separated) as hearts, stars, and dots . Then again there are always Party Busters.

I am planning to make a more structured set of crackers using foil for the holidays, I hope to send them instead of cards. But I’ll post that experiment as well.

A friend and I went in on a box of snaps together a while back and I had been looking for a reason to make a party cracker ever since. I had planned on Fourth of July themed ones with those champagne bottle poppers, fireworks glasses, confetti, etc. Buuut, I was lazy and they never got made.

This is my first try at making these. On some crackers I’ve had the end of the snap is glued to the inside of the end – so that the cracker will break open when tugged. I wrapped too many layers of tissue paper to allow for the cracker to rip open so I left the snaps lose to be tugged and the cracker ripped open afterwards. I added some things that were too heavy, I’m afraid there will be much dropping and falling when these are snapped. And I have this little worry that the stuff inside will catch on fire from the spark the friction strip makes (these strips are louder than any commercial crackers I’ve had so far). I hope it doesn’t catch on fire. Obviously. If I make these this way again I will add only two layers of tissue paper and tack down the snap ends, I like the ripping open effect! And I will keep the contents lightweight. I made some tissue paper crowns to go inside too – directly below.

By the way, the clear gridded ruler you see in these pictures is one of my favorite things, you can find them in fabric stores and sometimes in art stores.

 

tissue crowns


gather the stuff – tissue paper, scissors, ruler


I found a good height to be 1.5 inches – fold the paper in half and glue the ends (you have a loop, sort of) – at this point I glued the ends at a point which was way too large so I could determine how large to make it later


to make a tiara I angled the top up – the high point is the center front fold


sketched a design


cut the tiara from the end of the paper


and cut out the first spot


I continued fold and snip out the shapes


the front when opened up


I measure my head and added an inch or so (11 in?), marked the length, cut it an inch past that point and glued the ends together, then flipped it inside out so the glued end was on the inisde


and then folded it back up to be tucked into a cracker


for the crown I gave it a height of 2.5 inches


I gave it 12 inches, glued the ends and snipped the extra off, folded into thirds, then folded into thirds again – it works if you just keep folding it in half too


I cut on an angle from the top corner


wha la – this can be folded right back up and slipped into the cracker

41 Comments

41 responses so far ↓

  • 1 tahtah // Dec 7, 2006 at 1:03 am

    Very cool. I am thinking of making these for my nephews birthday party. But I am using toilet paper rolls with a zigzag cut around the middle, just leaving a small part uncut. They can then be broken in half. They are like mini personal pinata’s.

  • 2 carrie // Dec 7, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    where can I buy cracker snaps to make Christmas crackers?

  • 3 megan // Dec 7, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    Carrie, the third paragraph of the instructions on this page give two sources.

  • 4 Deesquared // Dec 9, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    I have bought a pack of snaps at Michael’s (a large craft store). I have also seen the snaps sold individually at the local dollar store in the craft section.

  • 5 Alissa // Dec 11, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    Love the pudding break!

  • 6 jamie // Dec 12, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    i bought some of the snaps at Michael’s today… it was $2.99CDN for a package of 25.

    They also sell premade crackers, kits, and bags of prizes for reasonable prices.

  • 7 Karen // Feb 2, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    Really great to see you keep this tradition alive. I make them every year and they’re a big hit. Try using empty toilet paper tubes for the inside roll and using pinking shears or scissors with those wavy edges to put an interesting frill on the ends. I also put a joke inside so that the process of opening them becomes more interactive.

  • 8 susann // Jul 3, 2007 at 3:09 am

    I`am gonna buy some pudding…=)

  • 9 valerie Waters // Dec 2, 2007 at 8:56 am

    I live in Phoenix AZ USA.My grand daughter loves to watch teletubbies and they have episode with christmas crackers.I will check at Michaels. Enjoyed this web page and will put n in favorites.Thx

  • 10 shiromi // Dec 20, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Hi. I just want to say, *don’t* buy from absolutelycrackers. I spent $40 on crackers from them four weeks ago and they haven’t shown up. And what’s worse is that they haven’t responded to any of my emails in regards to when it was shipped, aside from an initial note which didn’t answer the question, and just said “hopefully you’ll get it before christmas”. I’ve bought from Olde English Crackers before and they are very good!

  • 11 Jennifer // Dec 30, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    I am looking for snaps and I believe the Michael’s in Canada sells them but not here in St. Louis. I just spent the day trying to buy some here but to no avail. Dec 30th 07.

  • 12 Steph // Jan 14, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I’m in Ontario and I’m looking for somewhere to buy cracker snaps from ~ I went to Michael’s and couldn’t find any. Does anyone know?

  • 13 Viva La Bam // Feb 8, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    cool but am still confused?????????????? what is in the middle again?????

  • 14 Phil Gedge // Mar 17, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Hi,

    My name is Phil and I live in the UK. My company makes crackers here in the UK. I’ve just found this page while searching for something else about Christmas crackers.

    I’d like to offer a tip or two to help you guys making them from home! Use a toilet roll in the centre of the paper, stick it to the paper. Pop in 2 other toilet rolls , 1 at each end about 3cm away from the centre tube, but do not stick these to the paper! Glue along the long edge (opposite end of tubes). Roll the paper around all 3 tubes together and stick together.

    Now use a piece of string and wrap it around the space you left between the centre tubes and the outside ones. Pull the string and it will ‘scrunch’ the paper together. The tubes will create a nice finish to the paper around the handles so they won’t be crushed as displayed here!

    Once you have tied of your crackers pull the tubes out of the ends of the crackers and you should have a perfectly made cracker!

    If you’d like more instructions and tips, let me know and I’ll try and help!

    Good luck,

    Phil
    Classic Crackers

  • 15 Holly // Mar 30, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I’m also having trouble finding cracker snaps at craft stores in Ontario this time of year (Michael’s apparently only carries them at Christmas) and can’t seem to find any websites that will ship to Canada. Does anyone know where I can find them?

  • 16 My Wedding Hero » Toilet Paper Roll DIY - wedding planning blog // Apr 15, 2008 at 11:06 am

    [...] Sure, you may not think toilet paper rolls can be anywhere near classy, but I’ve recently come across some great DIY projects that beg to differ. For instance, Apartment Therapy San Francisco recently posted directions to make these gorgeous toilet paper tea light embellishments. You could even paint or glitter these to add a splash of color from your wedding day palette.  Another great project involving these handy cardboard rolls are these Party Crackers.  Not martha gives us some great direction on how to customize them with colored tissue and fabulous confetti – a great option for your guests’ farewell panache. [...]

  • 17 Cynara // May 21, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I’ve made crackers myself, and though I did also put a bit of construction paper in the central part to give it a little crispness, I do kinda like the softer look; it’s classy and homemade.

  • 18 Phil // May 23, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    You can get cracker snaps on eBay. There’s a few people selling them. I can ship them from the UK but the postage may be a little expensive!

    Phil
    http://www.classic-crackers.co.uk

  • 19 Jacque // May 27, 2008 at 6:34 am

    Just put an order in to Classic Crackers for the cracker snaps and it was cancelled stating that they can’t ship to Canada. Does anyone have any other resources?

  • 20 Holly // May 29, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    I’m still having trouble locating cracker snaps in Ontario and no one seems to ship to Canada. Does anyone have any other tips on where to find these things?!!

  • 21 Crystal // Jun 3, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I did lots of searching and found a site with snaps that will ship to Canada. http://www.shop-com.co.uk/Cracker_Snaps-46406052-p!.shtml?trk=2&buy=0
    I needed them for my Christmas in July themed wedding, so i am hoping they will arrive soon :)

  • 22 Crystal // Jun 4, 2008 at 10:07 am

    http://www.shop-com.co.uk/Cracker_Snaps-46406052-p!.shtml?trk=2&buy=0
    not sure why the whole link didn’t work but at least it takes you to the site then enter cracker snaps and you should be able to find them

  • 23 Phil // Jun 15, 2008 at 6:06 am

    It is illegal to ship cracker snaps through the post via airmail. They are classed as an explosive and no carrier will transport them if they know what is in the package!

    However if you are posting them within your own country it’s not really a problem as they don’t get checked.

    But when we tried to post snaps outside of Europe we had to make a customs declaration on the package. Of course we could lie but there could be consequences should the package be opened. The least of our problems would be that the snaps are refused and returned to us at our expense. So it was decided the risks and costs were not worth it. Sorry!

    Phil

  • 24 Jean // Jun 30, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    My friend says she includes firecrackers — the little ones you buy at 4th of july — now THAT would be something! The 4th is almost here. . .

  • 25 Germany // Sep 28, 2008 at 6:26 am

    I just tried to order from Absolutely Crackers, but they only sell the snaps in packages of 144!!! They also want almost 7 Euros to ship to Germany, which is rediculous.

    I’ll just have to hope that I can get some at Michael’s when I’m home in Toronto at Christmas.

  • 26 Brunhilde // Oct 15, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Any chance of getting those snap crackers in mexico city?

  • 27 Nicola Welling // Oct 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I can’t order snaps from Absolutely Crackers to send to Spain due to them being hazzardous, (post Office rules apparently) I check it out and it’s true the post office won’t accept them. Have order from Absolutely Crackers before and they have excellent customer service. Would buy again.

  • 28 Connie // Dec 10, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks so much – very descriptive and the pudding break bit – was the cutest thing I’ve seen all week ;0)

  • 29 Lee // Dec 14, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Love the pudding break! Saved you as a favorite.

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  • 31 Leanne // Dec 20, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Thanx for all the tib bits – I have been making crackers for years – as I was tired of the same stuff being left around the table from store bought ones – I use the toilet rolls and either tissue or wrapping papper – What I put inside – I traditionaly googled and made christmas riddles, a $1 scratch & win with a penny and a mint or tiny christmas chocolate – now if someone could only leave behind a winning ticket on the table that would be great!
    I purchaced the snaps years ago at a wholesale store with a friend – I will not be sharing any until I know I can get them again!

  • 32 ELIZABETH NYC // Dec 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    I try and make Christmas crackers every year but am on my last ten snaps– Absolutely Crackers got me my first bunch (sent somehow from an address in NY state) and though 144 seems like a lot they do get used up. I use crepe paper to cover them like I remember from my childhood. Getting very hard to find crepe paper– one of those craft items that no one cares about anymore. I make sure to put a toy, a piece of candy, a crown of course (handmade) and reformat and printout bleak but hilarious horoscopes from The Onion for the joke (the Brits use a certain term which I can’t remember). Enjoy kids!

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  • 34 Pam // Nov 20, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    I have a suggestion for securing the snaps.
    I attach long curling ribbons on each end of the snaps and tell everyone to make sure they hold that tight as they pull. Some other items I have put in are: coins, fancy paper clips, barretts, key chains, stickers, plastic christmas ornaments and always candy. I go to the internet for the Christmas jokes, riddles, and quotes and print them on red paper. I put individual names on them. We take pictures every year with our hats on making a lasting memory. Thanks to your suggestions my crackers will be even better this year.

  • 35 Donna // Dec 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I wish I would have seen this earlier this year and ordered snaps. Oh well, I’ll be sure to do these next year! Thanks for sharing this, I’m so looking forward to making our Christmas crackers next year.

  • 36 Katherine // Jul 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    How do you not know about crackers?? Do they not have them in america? That’s an actual travesty. I may start a cracker charity.

  • 37 Barbara // Nov 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    A few friends and I made a bunch of Christmas crackers this year for a banquet. Since I’ve got to explain these to the guests, my husband & I practiced popping a few. My conclusion: Tell them to firmly grip the cardboard strip inside the paper ends and pull. Does anyone have better instructions?

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  • 40 Suzie Lambert // Mar 19, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I’m having a Christmas wedding, and am going to make these Crackers to hold all the Save The Date info!!! Fun!!

  • 41 Thelma // Dec 22, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    How much pudding do you put in the crackers? Mine went soggy after a few hours

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