Learn How to Make Christmas Crackers (Bon Bons)

  • 01 of 06

    Make Your Own DIY Christmas Crackers (Bon Bons)

    Make Christmas Crackers
    Give your festivities a traditional feel with handmade Christmas crackers. Getty Images: Rob Melnychuk

    If Christmas crackers conjure up an image of boring shop bought crackers with cringe-making jokes, terrible paper hats and awful gifts then perhaps you ought to think about making your own. It is very easy to make your own Christmas crackers and this is a great way to make personalized crackers for each family member or guest and create crackers that complement your other festive decorations. If you buy some cracker snaps your crackers will have the same distinctive bang as shop-bought crackers....MORE No special equipment or supplies are required to make Christmas crackers at home, all that is needed is the following:


    Traditionally, Christmas crackers were made with cheap crepe paper, although any type of paper can be used and this gives you a great deal of flexibility when it comes to thinking about designs. I use a thin craft paper as this tears easily when the cracker is pulled and creates the desired effect. Additional decoration can be added to the cracker. A sleeve to wrap around the center of the cracker is an effective way to add a touch of glamor to the finished item. Other decorations can include any embellishments from rubber stamping projects, glitter or glitter glue, ribbon, beads and anything else that takes your fancy!

    Inner Tube

    At the heart of every Christmas cracker is an inner tube. Any form of card roll is suitable for this, however the inside of a toilet roll is perfect! Other options include the inside tube from kitchen rolls or making your own from thin cardstock.

    Cracker Snaps

    Cracker snaps are what makes the cracker go 'bang'. It is not necessary to use cracker snaps, however they give the most authentic finish to your cracker. Cracker snaps can be purchased from craft stores as well as online from websites such as eBay.


    Other supplies required are string, ribbon or thread which is tied around the ends of the cracker and a good all purpose glue or double sided adhesive tape.

    Jokes, Gifts and Paper Hats

    Making your own paper crackers is the perfect way to avoid the traditionally groan-worthy contents of shop-bought crackers. Write your own or if you fancy something a little different, look online for an illustrated family friendly joke While for many people Christmas dinner just wouldn't be the same without an ill-fitting hat and terrible jokes, this could be the opportunity that you have been seeking to share more personal gifts and tokens. Any small gift can be placed in a cracker. There are a couple of things to bear in mind:

    • The gifts must be small enough to fit inside the inner tube
    • If the gift is breakable or precious, consider attaching it to the inside of the tube with tape to minimize the risk of the gift getting lost or broken if it falls on the floor
    • If you are making paper hats to go in the cracker, remember that they will need to fold up into a small space therefore they cannot be too ornate or made from heavy paper.

    To make crackers see the the following pages for step by step instructions and the last page for ideas for jokes, mottoes and gifts.

    The history of crackers - Tom Smith and the History of Crackers

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  • 02 of 06

    Cut the Paper to Size

    Make Your Own Crackers
    Make Your Own Crackers. Kate Pullen

    If you are going to rubber stamp the paper to add decorations then this needs to be done before you form the cracker. Any type of rubber stamps and inks can be used. It is possible to heat emboss the paper before use to give texture. This is a good opportunity to make the crackers so that they match or complement other table decorations.

    Three tubes are required to make a cracker, although the end two tubes are used just to form the cracker and are removed when the cracker is finished. Cut a...MORE piece of paper that is about the length of three tubes and that will wrap around the cracker with a small overlap. Put the three tubes end to end in the center of the paper and add the cracker snap if you have one. Glue the edge of the paper and join the paper so it is wrapped around the three tubes.

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  • 03 of 06

    Get Ready to Twist!

    Pull One of the Tubes from the Paper
    Pull One of the Tubes from the Paper. Kate Pullen
    Now comes the clever part! There are many ways to form the cracker shape, however one of the most simple ways is also the most effective. If you use a thin paper then it is possible to twist the paper carefully to start to form the shape. Pull one of the end tubes half way from the paper keeping the other two in place.
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  • 04 of 06

    Twist the Paper

    Twist the Paper
    Twist the Paper. Kate Pullen
    Take hold of the cracker with both hands and carefully twist it. This will form the traditional cracker shape. Then take a piece of ribbon, string or cord and tie this around the twisted section to hold it in place.
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  • 05 of 06

    Finish the Cracker

    Plain Cracker Ready for Decorating
    Plain Cracker Ready for Decorating. Kate Pullen
    Add the gifts, mottoes and anything else to the inner tube and repeat the process at the other end. If you want to add further decoration to the crackers then now is the time to do so!

    Ideas for Decorating the Crackers

    Here are some ideas for finishing the crackers:
    • Use stick on jewels or other embellishments to add sparkle to the crackers. Run a row of these along either end of the cracker.
    • Make a sleeve to decorate the center of the cracker. Pieces of decorative or scrapbook paper would be great...MORE for this.
    • Stamp and heat emboss images and cut these out and apply them to the cracker
    • Add decoupage elements for an elegant finish.
    Now the cracker is finished and the tubes at either end can be removed. Store the crackers in a box before they are used to stop them getting squashed or damaged.
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  • 06 of 06

    Jokes, Mottoes and Gift Ideas for Christmas Crackers

    Handmade Christmas Crackers
    Handmade Christmas Crackers. Kate Pullen

    One of the best things about making your own Christmas crackers is that you can select your own gifts, jokes and mottoes. Here are some ideas that are ideal for Christmas crackers.

    Christmas Cracker Gift Ideas

    Christmas cracker gifts need to be small enough to fit in the inner tube. If you are not sure what size this is, then think of the size of a paper roll inner. Here are some ideas for small gifts that would be perfect for a cracker:

    • Rubber Stamp - a small rubber stamp would make a great...MORE Christmas cracker gift! Pick a stamp that most closely resembles the interests of the recipient.
    • Promise Cards - use this promise card template to make the gift of a special promise. An alternative is to give everyone a blank promise card and for everyone to exchange promises.
    • Calendar - make a small calendar to put in the cracker. 
    • Paper Beads - make paper beads and pop them into a bag with some glass beads and beading wire for a DIY jewelry gift.
    • Candies - traditionally a few sweets or candies were placed in crackers. Make some handmade candies and pop a few into each cracker for a handmade treat.
    • Miniatures - if you are looking for more ideas for things to make then take a look at the wide selection of tiny projects available from our Miniatures Guide.


    Mottoes and Christmas Cracker Jokes

    You can personalize your crackers further by adding mottoes and jokes. Pick one that best suits the recipient or use a selection of general mottoes and jokes that are suitable for all members of the family:

    • Traditional cracker jokes - if your Christmas isn't complete without a groan or two then take a look at the 10 Worst Christmas Cracker Jokes from the Telegraph and the Top 10 Christmas Cracker Jokes from the BBC.
    • Limericks and poems - write a short limerick or poem to go in your cracker. If you're not too hot at rhyming then take a look at this rhyme dictionary
    • More jokes - pick some jokes that best suit the interests of the recipients. Ideas include football jokes, Military jokes, golf jokes, political jokes and even math jokes