Want to create your own Christmas crackers this year? They're easy to make. Here's how. By Kirstie Allsopp
A British man called Tom Smith invented crackers in the 1840s and now they are an essential part of Christmas. And some of the most beautiful Christmas crackers are made by Clare Hutcheson.
Clare uses luxurious papers, shiny baubles and plenty of ribbon to ensure that each one is a little work of art. She brought her gorgeous materials and her cracker-making tools to Meadowgate, where she taught me the skill.
Easy. It's a bit fiddly, but as long as you use good quality paper and are careful with your glue, you should be okay.
A few pounds for the wrapping paper. Rotary paper perforators cost under a fiver from craft shops, or online. Cracker snaps: approx £2 for 20.
An afternoon, depending how many you want to make - and how over the top you want to go with your decorations!
Step One: Cut the Paper
First cut a piece of thick, good quality wrapping paper into an oblong, approximately 30cm by 20cm.
Step Two: Perforate the Paper
This tear line is where your cracker will break when pulled. To ensure a clean break, draw a line 10cm in from each short edge and perforate the paper to weaken it. Paper perforators cost a few pounds at craft shops and they’re worth buying for lots of other craft projects.
Step Three: Add the Bang
Once the two tear points are well perforated, it’s time for the cracker snap. These work by friction; the two sides of the snap are coated with a tiny bit of gunpowder and when they are pulled apart the friction ignites the bang. Stick the snap near the top your paper, with a dab of glue at each end.
Step Four: Roll Up
Now, roll your cracker into shape using the three cardboard rolls. The middle one will stay inside, whilst those on the outer edges are there to shape the cracker and will be disposed of later.
Step Five: Add the Gifts
Scrunch one end closed so that you can add your gifts - I put in some chocolates I got from Marc De Marquette’s - and of course no cracker is complete without a very cheesy joke!
Step Six: Decorate It
Once you've got your basic shape it’s time to go crazy with ribbons, bows, beads, even bits of old jewellery. Anything can look good on a cracker!
Step Seven: Enjoy A Special Christmas Bang
The best thing about making your own crackers is that, rather than being an identikit mass market design, it’s a little individual gift for your guests.
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