Updated: May 25
Crackers! No Christmas dinner is complete without a silly paper hat or a cringy joke. However, the annoying plastic prize is bound to end up in the bin. Thankfully, there are some alternatives available.
It is now possible to buy premade crackers that are plastic free. These vary in price and content. They are made from recyclable materials, generally paper and cardboard and contain plastic free prizes as well as the traditional hat and joke or motto. When selecting crackers, make sure to check they are also glitter free as this is just micro-plastics.
Some of these crackers contain plastic free yet potentially unnecessary prizes, so it is also important to consider how useful and sustainable the prizes are. For adult only celebrations, crackers with miniature bottles of spirits may be appropriate. For those with green fingers there are crackers which come with packets of seeds meaning long after Christmas the prize can be enjoyed. Some may contain chocolate or other food treats and others have small toiletry items such as soaps. For celebrations with children look for crackers which have interesting toys or puzzles which can be used again and again.
Some of the big supermarkets are beginning to stock these types of crackers making them an easily accessible option for many more people.
For beginner crafters there are kits available to help with handmaking crackers. These provide pre-cut and scored crackers which just need assembling and filling. Some kits will come with prizes others allow for filling with items of personal choosing.
For those with more experience or after a challenge it may be worth trying to make crackers from scratch.
I have made two sets of crackers. The first time I used crepe paper and card. I made a core tube and then had smaller end tubes. I joined these with the crepe paper with a snap inside and tied the ends with some foil ribbon which I had (not the most sustainable but I already had it). I made paper hats to specifically fit each of us and copied out some jokes. I filled the crackers with prizes saved from the crackers we had the previous year.
The second set I made, I used toilet roll tubes covered in tissue paper with cracker snaps taped inside and string to tie the ends. These crackers had paper hats and jokes in that had been saved from other crackers. For the prizes I had bought small little gifts that would be suitable for each of us.
There are designs and templates available online for people who would like some ideas on how to make crackers.
It would seem it is even possible to get reusable crackers. These can be made from fabric or cardboard. Some still contain a snap which can just be replaced for the next use. These can be filled in the same way as hand made but can be reused year on year.
Cardboard - This style comes flat packed in two parts ready to assemble and fill. Due to the way they are made you still get the snap and the pulling apart but there is meant to be no tearing so they can then be reused. How clever! https://www.peacewiththewild.co.uk/product/reusable-eco-crackers-midnight-blue-6-pack/
Fabric - These fabric crackers can be used with or without a snap (they don’t come with them). They have a durable carboard and are designed to be reused many times. These are quite expensive but shows what it is possible to do. https://www.peacewiththewild.co.uk/product/natural-linen-scandi-reusable-christmas-cracker-box-of-6/
It is great that there are now alternatives to the traditional crackers with plastic prizes which go to landfill. What will you choose?