Bang for your buck

Making your own Christmas crackers is easy, economical and personal.

It’s one of the most beloved Christmas traditions: pulling a cracker with a loved one and seeing who ends up with the funny hat. But Christmas crackers are often the last thing on the shopping list and after buying the presents, trimmings and food, pockets feel a little less than flush.

Why not try making your own? It’s easy and economical, using everyday items you probably have at home already. Best of all, you can fill them with trinkets that mean something to your guests, rather than plastic titbits that are likely to go in the bin at the end of the meal. Now that’s ‘bang’ for your buck!

Here’s how to put them together:

First, purchase some cracker snaps from your local craft store, like Spotlight. That will give you the authentic bon bon bang!

Next, place a cracker snap in a cardboard tube, say a toilet roll tube or a paper towel tube cut in half. If you don’t have any tubes handy, you can find these at craft shops, or cut pieces of flexible cardboard into rectangles and roll into cylinders. Secure the snap with a piece of tape or glue.

Then, choose your paper wrapping! You can wrap your bon bons in colourful tissue paper to match your table setting, Christmas wrapping paper, or even light fabric that can be washed and reused again next year. Cut it to fit the tube, with enough overhang to cover the ends of the snap. Roll around the tube and stick down with tape. Pinch one end and tie it down with a ribbon of your choice.

Fill the other end of the tube with your trinkets and fillings (see below for some ideas on what fillings to use!) then tie the last end shut.

For a personal touch, add a name tag and use each bon bon as a place setting for the table!

Here are some ideas for entertaining cracker fillings:

– If your guests have a bit of a sweet tooth, buy a box of chocolates and divvy them up amongst the crackers. For the adults in the room, you can purchase liqueur-flavoured chocolates to match guests’ favourite tipples – or perhaps even mini bottles of their favourite spirits.

– Instead of the cheesy jokes we’ve all heard a thousand times before, write some positive affirmations or messages for the New Year and slip those inside. People love to know they are cared for!

– Are you a romantic at heart? If your beloved loves Christmas as much as you do, a cracker might be the place to hide the ring. Just make sure they get the right bon bon to pull or things could get awkward.

– For the kids, include something they’ll actually use. Colourful hair ties or clips, badges, marbles or spinning tops make cute gifts for the little ones.