What are Christmas crackers?

Christmas crackers  are a type of party favor used primarily in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries to celebrate Christmas and other special occasions and festive events. They consist of a wrapped and decorated cardboard cylinder and very much resemble a large candy twist. Crackers typically contain a paper crown (tissue party hat), a motto (joke or riddle), a snap (friction activated popping device), and a small gift or novelty item. Crackers are often used to decorate individual place settings and are usually opened prior to serving a food course. Crackers provide a colorful and exciting start to any celebration, and also present each guest with a gift by which to remember the days events.

What materials are used to make Christmas crackers?

Christmas crackers are typically constructed from paper and cardboard stock. Often times a cardboard tube is used for the center section of the cracker and the tube is rolled onto a piece of gift wrap stock and taped or glued in place to form a cylinder. The paper ends of the cylinder are then either simply twisted shut or stiffened with card stock to allow for the three part construction that is typical of most crackers. Further information on how to make crackers is given in a subsequent section.

How do Christmas crackers work?

How do you  open a Christmas cracker?

Crackers are usually shared between two individuals, often with the arms crossed, one pulling on each end. With the ends firmly gripped, the cracker is slowly pulled apart using steady pressure and a twisting motion. This will tear the cracker open along one or both gathers, activating the “cracker snap,” and producing a small **BANG**. To ensure that the cracker pops, the parties involved must have a firm grip on the ends on the cracker. To assist in this activity it is often recommended that the thumb and fore-finger are used to pin the “snap” against the inside wall of the cracker end while pulling the cracker apart. A simple search online will reveal dozens of images of people pulling Christmas crackers.

What  is the origin of Christmas crackers?

Crackers have been a traditional part of British Christmas festivities and other celebrations since Victorian times and are greatly enjoyed by children and adults alike. They were invented in the mid-1840’s by a London pastry cook named Tom Smith, who came upon the idea while on a trip to Paris where he witnessed the French holiday custom of wrapping sugared almonds and other sweets in a twist of colored paper. Smith included a romantic message in his early crackers which he marketed in Britain as “Kiss Mottos”. However the product enjoyed only limited success until Smith devised a way to make the cracker “pop” when pulled apart (see subsequent section on cracker snaps).

Who invented the Christmas cracker?

Christmas crackers where invented in the early 1840’s by a young English baker/confectioner named Tom Smith (see above section on the “Origin of Christmas crackers” for more information).

What is the history of Christmas crackers?

Christmas crackers have a colorful history dating from the mid-1840’s until the present time. Although crackers were originally used exclusively in the Untied Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, they can now be found in many party and department stores throughout the world, especially during the holiday season, and of course are readily available for purchase on many internet e-commerce sites. For more information on the origin and history of Christmas crackers please see the previous section on the origin of Christmas crackers. View our web page for a more detail History of Christmas Crackers.

When are Christmas crackers used?

Although Christmas crackers are used primarily during the holiday season,  in more recent times they have become increasingly popular as party favors used to celebrate other holidays and a variety of special events and festive occasion throughout the year.

How are Christmas crackers used?

Crackers are typically used to decorate individual place settings and are often opened prior to serving a food or refreshment course.  At Christmas, crackers also make great tree ornaments, stocking stuffers, and welcoming gifts for visiting friends and relatives. Other uses include invitations, promotional and corporate gifts, advertising media, shower and wedding favors, and personalized gifts for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

What are Christmas cracker mottos?

A motto is a joke or riddle, typically in British humor, on a strip of paper that is included as one of the traditional items that goes inside the cracker.

Why are Christmas cracker jokes so bad?

It has become a tradition for Christmas cracker mottos to be among some of the silliest jokes you will find anywhere. There are even contest these days to see who can come up with the corniest jokes to include in Christmas crackers. A simple search for Christmas cracker jokes online will turn up dozens of sites, many with extensive listings of cracker jokes.

What are the best Christmas crackers?

Of course the word “best” means different things depending on the context in which the word is taken. If we are talking about the best quality crackers in terms of construction, appearance and gift contents, these for the most part are available from smaller, custom manufacturers that still make their crackers by hand. A couple such companies in the UK are Simply Crackers   and Designer Crackers. In North America the only custom manufacturer of handmade crackers is Olde English Crackers. Of the larger companies supplying crackers primarily to the wholesale market, Robin Reed Crackers still makes all their products by hand in China and supplies a high quality product to retailers throughout the world.

Now if we are taking about best priced crackers, these for the most part are available through online sites that are selling overstocked and discontinued products. Although we will not reference any of these sites here, most of you will know who they are and where to find them. Aside from that, the best prices are most easily attained by doing a little comparative shopping online. Make sure you consider the shipping price when shopping online, since many sites offer free shipping and shipping discounts.

Where are the best places to buy Christmas crackers?

Can my purchase of Christmas crackers be guaranteed?

During the holiday season Christmas crackers can be purchased in many department stores and specialty shops. Outside of the Christmas season you will need to go to the internet to purchase this product. When purchasing Christmas crackers we strongly suggest that if  possible you buy them directly from a company that makes its own crackers. These companies, unlike many holiday retailers, know this product, can help you with getting the crackers that work best for you, and are the only outlets that will offer money back guarantees on your purchase (see the links listed in the previous section).

What are the most expensive Christmas crackers?

Some of the most expensive crackers can be found in specialty shops during the holiday season and can contain gift items such as jewelry, expensive perfume and gold coins. The most expensive cracker for the 2013 Holiday season, and maybe the most expensive cracker ever, was an offering by Tiffany and Co. at 180,000 British pounds. This on-off piece contained a selection of diamond jewelry. In the same year, Fortnum and Mason offered a set of 6 Christmas crackers in a wooden presentation box for 1,000 pounds.

What is the largest Christmas cracker?

The largest Christmas cracker on record measured 207 ft in length and 13 ft  in diameter. It was made by the parents of children at Ley Hill School and Pre-School in Chesham, United Kingdom on 20 December 2001.

What is the greatest number of people to pull crackers at one time?

The biggest Christmas cracker pull was done by 1,478 people at an event organised by Honda Japan at Tochigi Proving Ground, Tochigi, Japan, on 18 October 2009. Now that would be a lot of bangs!

Can I make my own Christmas crackers?

Are there directions for making Christmas crackers?

It is relatively easy for someone to make their own crackers, especially given all the helpful information that is available online. This is a fun holiday craft project and one that doesn’t require a lot of time or expense. Crackers can be made using several techniques, but probably the most common involves rolling a piece of wrapping paper onto one or more cardboard tubes to form a paper cylinder. The paper cylinder is then further modified to produce the three part look that is typical of most crackers. Excellent written instructions for making crackers using cardboard tubes are provided by Olde English Crackers and at WikiHow.

Are there videos on “How to make Christmas crackers?”

There are a number of very good  YouTube videos on making Christmas crackers. Three of the more informative videos, each using a slightly different technique, can be accessed at the following links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y52MNqhuEak http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi3KRrMlof8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuX2y1Nlgtw

Can I purchase kits for making Christmas crackers?

There are several companies that provide all inclusive kits for making Christmas crackers. These kits typically contain tabbed and slotted colored card stock that rolls and slots together to form a cylinder. The card stock is also slotted where the cracker gathers so that it easily folds into the three part design that is typical of crackers. The outlet with the largest selection of cracker making kits for  purchase is the UK company, Simply Crackers.  Ebay also has cracker kits available  for  purchase throughout much of the year.

Can I purchase the various components for making Christmas crackers?

Many of the materials needed for making your own Christmas crackers can be purchased at stationary or craft stores (i.e., glue sticks, glue gun, wrapping paper, curling ribbon, card stock, etc.) For the hard to find items such as cracker snaps and tissue hats, as well as other cracker making components try Olde English Crackers Inc.

What are Christmas cracker snaps?

Cracker snaps”  are the device that makes the mild bang or snapping sound when the cracker is pulled apart. A “snap” consists of two narrow pieces of thin cardboard that are treated with a small amount of chemically-impregnated aggregate material at one end and joined together with the treated areas apposed and overlapping. When the free ends of the “snap” are pulled, the treated areas rub across each other producing a small, friction-activated bang or crack.

Are Christmas crackers snaps dangerous?

Cracker snaps” are not dangerous in any way as long as they are used inside crackers as intended. They should not be used on their own as noisemakers, or employed in the construction of other craft items. In particular, cracker snaps should never be pulled near the face and eyes.

Where can I  buy Christmas cracker snaps?

During the Holiday Season, “cracker snaps” can sometimes be found in craft stores with other Christmas craft items. This product is also available year round from our online store.

What are Christmas cracker crowns?

Crowns are folded tissue paper hats that when unfolded and placed on the head have the appearance of a crown worn by royalty. The tissue crowns are usually placed on the head immediately after pulling the cracker and worn throughout dinner and often into the evening. The idea of putting a tissue crown into Christmas crackers was developed by one of Tom Smith’s sons in the early 1900’s. However, the tradition of wearing festive hats is believed to date back to Roman times.

Where can I buy Christmas cracker hats?

Christmas cracker hats and other cracker making components can be purchased online. For those of you who would like to try your hand a making tissue crowns for your crackers, see the instructions provided at the following online sites: http://www.notmartha.org/tomake/partycracker/ To view a video on making paper crowns see the Youtube site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pqfyajji7A8

What goes inside a Christmas crackers?

Christmas crackers traditionally contain a tissue crown (paper party hat), a motto (joke, riddle or trivia question) and a small gift item. The gift contents are usually fairly inexpensive and range from plastic toys and noisemakers to magic tricks and edible treats. During the Holiday season, a few higher end retailers will be selling crackers made specifically for their customers (see the previous section on the most expensive Christmas crackers). Customers can also personalize the gift contents of their crackers by purchasing fully assembled, ready to fill crackers that they fill and finish themselves. A nice selection of fill your own crackers are available in the UK from the following online stores:

Froufrou & Thomas Go Crackers The Christmas Cracker Shop A wide selection of ready to fill crackers are available in the United States right here.

Where do I purchase the fillers or gifts to go inside Christmas crackers?

Dollar stores are excellent places to purchase inexpensive items to go inside your handmade or fill your own crackers. If purchasing in larger quantities, some of the online novelty wholesalers such as the Oriental Trading Company and Rhode Island Novelty  are good sources of an extensive range of inexpensive toys and novelty items. When purchasing items to go inside your crackers the most important thing to know and remember is the size of the fillable space of the cracker.