I love Christmas crackers. They look so pretty, they make a wonderful bang (unless you have animals, then that bang isn't as easy to enjoy), and they're a wonderful part of Christmas dinner. But they always contain the same rubbish. At least, over here they do. Nail clippers, whistles, Kinder Egg-style toys, tape measures and so on. The only thing I've ever considered useful are those tiny screwdriver sets. So we stopped buying Christmas crackers because they were always the same, unless you buy the expensive duluxe ones - and I mean duluxe, I mean like £30 or more for 6, otherwise you just end up with the same rubbish but a little better made.
I've rather missed Christmas crackers, though, so this year I decided to make some myself. I'd done it before a few years ago but had nothing to put in it except the jokes and hats that came with the set - in fact I'm not even sure there were hats... And while I admit that I didn't have much of any use to put in them this year, at least there are things in them that we'll actually want...
I bought a set of 12 Kraft crackers and a packet with 12 snaps, foil hats and jokes (which, with my stupid sense of humour, were actually funny), all easily found in craft shops, and then went and gathered up small sets of chocolates. 10 ferrero rocher, 12 Kinder maxi, 4 mousse snowmen, 16 celebrations and a bag of chocolates wrapped as Christmas puddings. I also found some thin wire with ivy leaves on which I thought would be a great addition, but I only bought one coil after deciding to remove the second from my cart. I wish I'd bought two! Using a small amount for each cracker I managed to get 8 out of the 12 with the ivy, and the rest had to have silver and red gift ribbon instead. They still looked good but if I'd had more ivy I could have given each cracker more!
To make crackers, you need:
A cracker-making kit or crackers, snaps, foil hats
Stuff to fill them with
Stuff to decorate the crackers
optional cheesy Christmas jokes.
I used a copperplate nib and white Winsor & Newton ink to decorate mine. They look lovely in person but in all honesty I think a little more decoration wouldn't have hurt, though I'm not sure what. Perhaps some 'Merry Christmas' scrawled in silver ink. The crackers seal with slot-tabs which you can see in the picture above, and they hold perfectly, but it also means it's easy enough to take apart so I might just do that and add a little more decoration.
It took a while to scrawl over 12 of them, believe it or not, but I've got some confidence in the pen so it could have been worse. What I wasn't so confident about, though, was the scrawling itself. I see so many wonderful pieces across the internet but I can't seem to come up with a consistent flow.
I closed the tabs, and after struggling to position everything into the middle of the cracker (the hat was a smidge too long, and the mousse snowmen only just fit), I realised it would be easier to undo the tab at one end, and not only close the tab at the other end but also close the opening before filling. So I faffed a bit with the first cracker, but the rest went a little quicker.
As I said, unfortunately I didn't have enough lovely ivy wire to cover all the crackers, but the red and silver ribbon doesn't work too bad. In fact I almost prefer it since it's a little louder than the ivy and takes attention away from the lack of detail. But sometimes understated is good. It's not as if you need to add more glitter to Christmas than there already is!
They'd be great with an understated Christmas - or a Christmas with all the effort, great impact, but still neutral and tidy. My chocolate pine cone cakes will go down a treat with these!