Introduction: Party Crackers

Picture of Party Crackers

Step by step instructions for making your own crackers that pop!

Party crackers are a British tradition around Christmas, but really should be used to celebrate any event!  Here are easy instructions so you can make your own and fill them with great loot - both traditional and customized to fit your needs.

I first learned about Christmas crackers during my visit to England last December, and have been obsessed with spreading their word ever since.  As you'll learn along the way of this story, there are special traditions and techniques involved in both the making and popping of these crackers that  must be observed.  But as for the toys you choose to fill them with, let your imagination go wild!

Step 1: Round Up

Picture of Round Up
To make the crackers, you'll need:
  • Optional: Pre-printed die cut Christmas Cracker tubes  or:
  • Cardboard tubes (toilet paper tubes are perfect, but paper towel tubes can be cut to size)
  • Double sided tape
  • Heavy clear packing tape or hot glue
  • Scissors or X-acto knife
  • Paper to cover the crackers
  • Ribbon to tie off the crackers
  • Tissue paper to make crowns
  • Assorted Toys & Party Favors suited to the receivers / theme of the party
  • Jokes
  • Also optional: the cracker snaps that make it pop!  You can salvage them from unused crackers, or buy them at a place like this. I did try to come up with some alternate solutions, but in the end, went with the original.  They're really not necessary, as in all the excitement, you hardly hear the snap anyway.

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Step 2: Jokes

Picture of Jokes

Party cracker jokes are classic and usually terrible.
There are plenty of websites to help you choose your favorite.  Not all of them translate from British into American so well, so choose which ones are appropriate for your audience.

Print them out or hand-write them and cut them down into fortune-cookie-size slips.

Step 3: Paper Crowns

Picture of Paper Crowns
The paper crown is how you know you're at a party.

When we were traveling through England last Christmas season, I saw them on everyone's heads in restaurants.  The only time I'd seen them before was at my brother's 7th birthday party or something, and I thought it was REALLY coincidental that everyone was celebrating a birthday that week!

Cut to me making that observation aloud and learning about "Holiday Do's" and "Christmas Crackers."  We'll go into further ways I embarrassed myself in this arena later.

I kept one of the crowns from my cracker and copied it thusly:
  • Cut a strip of tissue paper 3 1/2" x 24"  (9cm x 60cm)
  • Lay a piece of double sided tape along one of the short ends, and tape short edges together
  • Fold in half and crease along folded edge
  • Fold in half again and crease along edge
  • Repeat a third time
  • Cut one edge at an angle (I made my angle a little roundy at each point)
  • Open to reveal your new awesome crown
Now repeat for as many poppers as you plan on making, plus a couple extra in case they rip.

Step 4: Roll Tubes

Picture of Roll Tubes
Now it's time to prepare the tubes for assembly.

The easiest way to do this is gather up a bunch of empty toilet paper tubes.  I measured them to know how big a sheet of wrapping paper I would need. 
  • The tubes I had measured 4 1/2" x 1 1/2" (~ 11 1/2cm x 4 cm), so I cut my paper to 12" x 6" (~ 30.5cm x 15cm)
  • Flip the paper over so the wrong side is facing up (I was using double-sided paper)
  • Add a strip of double-sided tape to the full length of the tube.
  • Center the tube in the middle of the paper.
  • Press taped edge of tube down along paper.
  • Align two other tubes on each end of the center tube to assist in perfect rolling
  • Lay a piece of double-sided tape along the entire opposite edge of the paper
  • (opt: place a cracker snap between the paper and the tube as you roll)
  • Roll the tubes and seal to other side of paper where tape is

Step 5: Fill Crackers

Picture of Fill Crackers
First we'll close one end of the cracker.  Then we'll stuff it with goodies and tie off the other end!
  • Slide one of the guiding roller tubes out about the same width of the tube (1 1/2" / ~4cm) 
  • Use your fingers to crease the paper in the center of this space
  • Align a 12" (30cm) strip of ribbon underneath this gap and wrap around paper
  • Wrap ribbon around paper a few times, pulling tightly to close the end of the tube
  • Using heavy duty clear packing tape or hot glue, adhere the end of the snap to the paper so it won't come loose when pulling them apart
Fill the other end with goodies before removing the other rolling-assist tube, and repeat these steps.

Step 6: Cracker Etiquette and the Continuing Story of Sarah Embarrassing Herself. . .

Picture of Cracker Etiquette and the Continuing Story of Sarah Embarrassing Herself. . .

The proper etiquette when faced with a party cracker is to grab one end of it, and share the other end with the person of your choice.  Alternatively, if seated at a table, everyone can cross arms and pop them all at once.

On no account should one grab past the ribbon as this is very bad behavior. This is cheating and nobody will ever choose you again.


Whatever the situation, you do not just pull both of the ends yourself.

In my defense, I really wanted to see what was inside.  I didn't realize it was a contest.

Whoever wins the pull ends up with the tube in their hand and all the spoils within.  The loser ends up with a handful of paper and a major sense of disappointment. 

However, it has been known in polite society that, the winner will offer the contents to the loser IF the loser was the instigator of the cracker pull

Watch the following series of photos to see how this played out between Matt and Ed!

Step 7: Enjoy Your New Riches

Picture of Enjoy Your New Riches

Don your crown and enjoy your findings.

Beware though, sad losers may try to steal your loot!

But fear not, this story has a happy ending! Follow the story in pictures to see Matt's triumph.

Step 8:

Picture of

Crackers can be placed around the dinner table to be enjoyed before or after a meal.  They are also often placed in a Christmas tree and stockings.  You'll get so hooked on these, that you'll want to stash them everywhere and bring them out for every occasion! 

You might be so proud of your personalized creations that you want to share them every time you have visitors.  I highly recommend this.

As you can see, Clicquot's already picked out hers.  Now she just has to wait until the big day to open them! 


Bulie2 (author)2017-03-14

Thank you SO much! I'm planning a girls' weekend for 2 of my friends' 60th birthdays. These will be great party favors. Hope one of them has Matt's luck with a scratch ticket!

AshleyW14 (author)2016-05-17

I didn't know you had to open them with another bad. ^^;;

Arachne_Weaver (author)2015-12-29

Great intructable!!!

annagail (author)2011-01-06

"Not all of them translate from British into American..."
LOL! I live in the U.S. but my boyfriend's family has a tradition of getting Christmas crackers, and this year my joke was so baffling.

"What is a parrot stuffed with? Polyfilla!"

I guess that is a brand name of spackling paste in the UK? o_O

dawnknits (author)annagail2015-12-11

I think it's a reference to poly-fill. It's inside stuffies.

AppalachiaAngel (author)2011-07-24

hmm this is VERY similar to the thanksgiving/christmas tradition of playing "wishbone" around here... the wishbone is a horseshoe shaped bone wit ha spur on top that is in a turkey or chicken... when cutting up the bird, whoever got the wishbone turned to someone (normally after cleaning it off LOL) and each grab one spur of the wishbone in their hand and each person put their thumb against the top spur... then at the count of three, each person bend their spur up while making a wish and the idea is that the one who has the biggest piece (the piece with the top spur normally) will have their wish granted before the new year and the other won't, although sometimes I have had my wishbone split even (really rare lol) and it is truly all about tradition and fun lol... maybe christmas crackers is where this tradition came from?

WhyHello (author)2010-12-03

i'm gunna hug u *hug* lol awesome instructible

timothymh (author)2010-01-24

 Great instructable! 5 stars! but I disagree with a couple things: it MUST snap! ... And they are plenty known here in the US of A.

porcupinemamma (author)2009-12-23

Hey hey schooie :0) I've got British ancestery in a big way.  Here's the've just gottahave the whiff of gunpowder when you pull a christmas cracker apart with your "cracker mate", and... you mustwear the silly tissue paper hat that comes in the cracker throughout the entire dinner.  After Christmas it's a good plan to stock up on Christmas crackers.  You can get the really nice ones for half price then !!(crackers tend to be really pricey)cool snappy instructable.  Thanks :0)!!

mje (author)porcupinemamma2009-12-27

Absolutely! It's not a cracker if it doesn't CRACK- but all you can buy in the US these day are these anemic little paper pull-parts. When I was a little kid in the 50s and 60s we could still get real crackers.

There are a number of ways to make the bit that goes bang. You can buy tiny pull string "booby traps" in states that allow Class-C (consumer) fireworks, or make your own from string and a few common materials.. which I suppose I should do up an Instructable on!

stephenniall (author)mje2009-12-27

its a bit silly nowadays Down in england (manchester specifically) Minors (Under 18s) Cannot buy christmas crackers because of the fireworks !

red-king (author)stephenniall2009-12-31

 I don't understand why... it's like a cap from a cap gun pretty much...

stephenniall (author)red-king2009-12-31

your meant to be 18 to buy them too ! its classed as fireworks

red-king (author)stephenniall2010-01-03

 really? =o

stephenniall (author)red-king2010-01-03

Yes the stuff in Cap guns are Primary explosives which set off when the pin hits them even though its such a small ammount that youd need a helluva lot of them to make a bomb or something !

red-king (author)stephenniall2010-01-04

 I can't even imaging how many you would need to make a bomb from those things... 

stephenniall (author)red-king2010-01-04

Eaxactly . plus its an explosive that would be simpler to make in your kitchen than take it out of caps ! ALl you need is some store bought stuff . (or if your like me youll have it already !)

red-king (author)stephenniall2010-01-05

I think it would be akin to the mythbusters episode where they filled a bucket with match tops...

stephenniall (author)red-king2010-01-05

i did something like that once.

i got a small bottle cut thousands of match heads off put them in a big bowl of water wauted for the water to evaporate then you have a big goo .

Put the goo into the bottle till its full add a visco fuse through the bottle cap and you have a improvised bomb

well im only 13 and i can just waltz up to Walmart and buy caps if i want to.(My little brother LOVES those things, but it drives me crazy!)

Same here i know shops down my area thatll sell me caps But it says Not for under 18s Contains fireworks

Cool  :)

I got a lot of help from my Brit boyf in writing up all of the rules for crackers.  I had no idea, really.

yokozuna (author)scoochmaroo2009-12-29

From the author of the Harry Potter guide, how could you NOT be familiar with crackers? :P

ItsTheHobbs (author)2009-12-23

I didn't know these weren't well known here. I live in the USA, and my family has them every year.

red-king (author)ItsTheHobbs2009-12-31

 I live in canada. same here.

doughnutguy1 (author)red-king2010-01-04

sadly we dont have them on our christmas' D:

trike road poet (author)2009-12-28

OK, what about some idea of funny one liners for the crackers?
Surely we can all contribute here???   ;^)

I remember one about;

'How did the Oow-Ow Bird Get Its Name"
(Because it lays square eggs)

jgroenert (author)2009-12-27

I have been wanting to make these for years. I heard about the SNAP source from a radio piece. The personalization is the best part.Lottery tickets are a great idea. I included limericks and riddles this year along with hat, candy an small token. Thanks for the reminder on how to "crack" them.

cory.smith (author)2009-12-26

Link has been forwarded to my aunt who had these at the Christmas celebrations last night. =D

KnexFreek (author)2009-12-23

what camera do you use ?

also 5 stars and im gunna make some!!!

scoochmaroo (author)KnexFreek2009-12-24

It's my boyfriend's camera - Canon Rebel SLR digital. It's pretty nice.  And I like to fuss around with all of the settings a lot.

KnexFreek (author)scoochmaroo2009-12-24

 Thankyou for replying!!!
Do you think i could get it at a best buy or circuit city or something?
Or is it a professional's type camera that you cant buy anywhere except certain places?

scoochmaroo (author)KnexFreek2009-12-24

It's really common, and super easy to use.
You can even get it at amazon.  Let me see if I can find a link to what we have.
I think this is it.
You can get it in a variety of megapixels.  Also the first lens we bought that didn't come with it is this one  which is the one that takes the nice close-up shot.  I saved up for a while to buy him that one, but I got a good deal on Amazon or Ebay for it, I can't remember which.
Good luck!

KnexFreek (author)scoochmaroo2009-12-24

 sweet! i will ask my dad about it!! thankyou! and merry christmas :)

chopstx (author)2009-12-23

What is a Party Cracker?

Doone valley (author)2009-12-23

Brilliant instructions, Scoochmaroo!  Have a great Christmas!

P.S.  the pumpkin bread recipe is terrific.

scoochmaroo (author)Doone valley2009-12-23

Ah, thank you!
That pumpkin bread IS delicious.  You've just made me think perhaps I should whip up another batch. . . .

geekazoid (author)2009-12-23

i didn't realize these weren't popular here, but I guess my family is part english, and that's what's brought it into the family... 

AngryRedhead (author)2009-12-23
Very clever and very cute!
Joe Martin (author)2009-12-22

Top banana old bean! I can't believe crackers aren't well known in America!

I would recommend something like this to perforate both the paper where you pull to crackers to make it easier.

I've got to say that this really put a smile on my face :)

scoochmaroo (author)Joe Martin2009-12-22

Oooh, neat.  Scooch want.

About This Instructable




Bio: Former Living & Food editor here at Instructables, now running! Follow me @sousvidely
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