DIY Party Crackers

By Kate Riley November 24, 2009

Ladies and gents, this next guest post is brought to you in anticipation of setting your holiday table.  Want to make your guests feel extra special ?  This is a wonderful way to welcome them with a small but thoughtful treat.  It is also a way to introduce a new tradition into your circle.  This tutorial is useful for your Thanksgiving table, your Christmas or Hanukkah table, your New Year’s Table, or just about any party you’re throwing.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to make party crackers in a stylish way.  Danielle teaches us how to create a personalized gift for your guests. 

diy crackers final top

Friends, please welcome Danielle and her tutorial on DIY Christmas crackers:

“For as long as I can remember, Christmas Eve dinner at our house has included the placement of a traditional Christmas cracker at each person’s seat. If you aren’t familiar with the term, a Christmas cracker a decorated paper tube reminiscent of a giant wrapped candy. It’s usually filled with kitschy little items—think paper crown, some sort of toy or trinket and a joke or fortune—and wrapped in paper. As tradition states, two people each grab an end of the cracker, snapping it open and pouring out the contents.

In our house, we start the meal by grabbing an end of the cracker in front of us and an end of the cracker on the plate of the person sitting to the right. When everyone has hold of two crackers, we all pull to see which treasures fall where. Donning hats, sharing fortunes and sipping champagne not only set the tone for a great evening, but provide the backdrop for many happy holiday memories.

It has become increasingly difficult to find Christmas crackers that don’t appear mass-produced, poorly made or come with items that end up in the trash once the meal is over. In the spirit of being more environmentally and financially savvy, I decided to see if I could make them without creating waste and possibly even upcycle things I would otherwise toss.

To make these crackers, I saved empty paper towel rolls, used paper and ribbon from my gift wrapping stash, and cut up unused cardstock that was sitting in a drawer for years. For the trinkets, I bought vintage toys and baubles that I found at a local antique store. This way, I was able to customize each cracker for the recipient. It’s amazing how many inside jokes you remember from days gone by when you cruise around an antique store teeming with goodies. I also bought some small vintage playing cards and buttons off eBay and glammed them up with black vintage German glass glitter.

Christmas Crackers

  1. Paper towel tube
  2. Fine-tip pen (I like Sharpies)
  3. Ruler
  4. Box cutter
  5. Lightweight wrapping paper or crepe paper (cut into 7.5” x 12” strips)
  6. Glue gun (low-temp)
  7. 2 end frames (light weight card stock, cut into 1.5” x 7.5” strips)
  8. 2 cable ties (twist-ties or lightweight wire will work as well)
  9. Scissors
  10. 1 or 2 vintage trinkets or baubles
  11. Paper crown (instructions following)
  12. Fortune, riddle or quote
  13. Ribbon
  14. Embellishment

Assembling your cracker:

Mark a line all the way around the paper towel tube 3.5” from each end. With your box cutter, carefully cut on the lines, making three pieces. Your middle piece should be 4” and will make up the body of the cracker. The two end pieces should be 3.5” and act as a frame (which will eventually be removed).

diy crackers 1

Lay your wrapping paper (or crepe paper) strip face down on the table. Place your paper towel tube pieces (keeping them in the same order as you cut them) in the very center of your paper strip. Place a small dab of glue at the bottom-center of the paper. Keeping your middle piece of paper towel tube centered, roll it toward the bottom and over the glue.*

diy crackers 2

Aligning all three paper towel tube pieces, roll paper around the tube. Leave a little paper at the end unrolled.  Run a thin strip of glue down the unrolled paper edge and roll the paper towel tube the rest of the way until it seals.

diy crackers 3

diy crackers 4

Slide the two end pieces of the paper towel tubes out of the cracker. Roll one of the end frame strips until it’s slightly smaller in diameter than the cracker opening. Insert into end of cracker until even with outer edge and slowly let go so it expands against the opening of the cracker paper. If desired, secure in place with a dab of glue.

diy crackers 5 

diy crackers step 6

Gently squeeze the cracker to find the center between the cracker body and one end frame. With your thumb and forefinger, slowly pinch your fingers to crimp the paper until you create a neck in the paper. 

diy crackers 7

Tighten a cable tie around the crimped paper, making sure the buckle of the tie is in line with the seam of the cracker paper (this will be the bottom of the cracker). Snip off the excess cable tie, as flush as possible.

diy crackers step 8

Now it’s time to fill your crackers with the goodies. Insert into the cracker: paper crown; trinkets or baubles; and fortune, joke or riddle.

diy crackers 9

Repeat steps 7 and 8 to close off the open end of the cracker.  Wrap a small length (about 3”) of tinsel or ribbon around the neck of each side of the cracker, tacking down the ends with a dab of glue and positioning so that the seam is on the bottom and completely covers the cable tie.

diy crackers 10

Position your cracker with seam-side down. If you are adding an embellishment, add a few dabs of glue on the back center and position where you want it on the cracker.

diy cracker on plate

    * Note: Traditional English crackers have a device in them called a snap that makes a popping sound when the cracker is pulled open. I didn’t use them in my project. If you plan to use them, before moving on to step 3, lay a snap above and parallel to the paper towel tube, then continue as cracker final
    A special thank you to Kate for allowing me to share this tradition with you. It is often under the most unexpected circumstances in which we often find inspiration. I am not a crafty person, but always seem to enjoy the fruits of my labor when I’m inspired to make it a personal experience. I hope you, too, are inspired to create a new family tradition.  Happy holidays!”


Thanks so much Danielle for sharing your creativity, and teaching us how to make guests feel special with personalized party crackers.  If you’re in the Sacramento area, hop on over to Danielle’s blog featuring economically and environmentally friendly tips for Northern California travelers and residents. 

Tomorrow is a Recipe Roundup, and then a day off on Thanksgiving for our annual Turkey Bowl touch football game.  It’s muddy and it’s fierce, but it is so much fun.  We’re expecting a dozen friends and family for dinner, and I still have a table to set and a feast to prepare.  Whew !

I wish all of you who are traveling this week a very safe journey.  May you arrive at your destination without too much trouble, be greeted warmly by your friends and family, be fed until you could burst, and be filled with the feelings of thankfulness that this patriotic holiday brings.   

Friday and Saturday, I’ll be back with more guest posts that are Christmas related. 

On the CG home front, my home office cabinets that I spent eons reconstruting and painting are getting installed by my hub and a friend tomorrow.  Yipppeeeee !  Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to reveal this very ladylike office space next week.


  1. Thanks Danielle! My husband is Scottish and when we lived in Scotland we used to have these every year at the holidays. Since being back in America, it has been hard to find decent Christmas crackers that don’t cost a fortune (read Williams Sonoma) or aren’t full of rubbish (read Cost Plus World Market). I can’t wait to surprise my family with these. Do you happen to know where I could source the “snap” part of the cracker that you didn’t use? My boys really like that part of the tradition–typical boys it has to blow up to be fun.
    Thanks Kate for hosting this guest blog.

  2. Great tutorial! :) I love those Christmas crackers…these are really pretty.

    Travelling to TN tomorrow…10+ hours in a car with two little kids= NOT fun. :s Have fun playing touch football–THAT sounds like fun. :)

  3. Cindy, the snaps are really hard to find in the US. The only place I’ve been able to find them is on a site called Olde English Crackers I’ve searched on eBay and Google, and pretty much all other sources are across the pond. I think Olde English is your best bet.

  4. I am so excited to make this for New Years! Thanks again for sharing your brilliance with the rest of us! I am filing your idea (yet again) at Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. I made these one year and my family loved them. Mine weren’t nearly as classy, as I used traditional red and green.


  6. Found your blog on Bing and was so glad i did. That was a excellent read. I have a quick question.Is it alright if i send you an email???…

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