Frugal Gift Idea: DIY Christmas Crackers

Christmas can be very expensive as we all know, and one of the most frivolous expenses I think are the Christmas crackers we all like to ‘pop’. They look fancy, make an exciting sound, but what do you get from it? A tissue hat, a joke, and a cheap surprise; all of which get thrown away by the end of the meal. These little table decorations can be very pricey, but they don’t have to be! So get out your supplies and have a frugal Christmas meal!

DIY Christmas Crackers

Christmas Cracker supplies

  • Cardboard tubes, as many as the number of crackers you need, plus two extra
  • Some left-over gift wrap (if it is shiny, make sure it will rip easily)
  • Snappers (available at craft shops, if you think ahead you can get them on sale after Christmas)
  • Clear tape
  • Double-sided tape (Useful but not necessary)
  • Ribbon
  • Embellishments to decorate the cracker
  • Tissue hats (also available at craft shops)
  • Christmas cracker jokes (you can make up your own, or download them from the internet)
  • A small gift to enclose within the cracker

DIY Christmas Cracker instructions

Putting your Christmas cracker together is super simple!

Cut your paper to size, you’ll need enough to go around your cardboard roll with a little overlap. For your length, size it to be the length of 3 toilet paper rolls. In my case the dimensions were 17cm x 32 cm. I used some pretty paper that had been previously been used for wrapping a gift, so it was free!

DIY Christmas crackers are frugal, cardboard rolls and paper and you're ready, photo

Slide one of your snappers into one of the cardboard rolls and gently tape it into place on either end inside the tube.

Take a strip of double-sided tape and place it along the outside of your cardboard tube.

Lie this tube in the middle of two other tubes lying end-to-end.

Tape the gift wrap to the middle tube and roll it up, using another piece of double-sided tape to fasten it at the other end. If you don’t have double-sided tape, you can use some clear tape or a glue stick to do this. By having the other tubes in a row, you will help to keep your gift wrap straight and in shape.

Wrapped Christmas Cracker, diy Christmas crackers, photo

Once your gift wrap is secured, gently remove one of the spare tubes and close that end of your cracker using ribbon. You can use gift-wrap ribbon, silk or lace ribbon, etc. I used some that had previously been used for wrapping years ago. If you save those little ribbons from the shoulders of shirts that are used to hang them up (I don’t hang my t-shirts, and the ribbons get in the way, so I clip them off), they would be the perfect size.

Make your own Christmas Cracker, frugal Christmas ideas, photo

Once you have one end secured, it’s time to fill your cracker with the mandatory hat, bad joke, and gift. The wonderful thing about making your own crackers is that you have the opportunity to personalise the contents. Last year I made this little emergency sewing kit for my husband to take to work with him for his regular clothing malfunctions. It was both considered a ‘joke’ gift, but also very practical, and has been used several times since. For my daughter, I made her a necklace similar to these bracelets that fit in nicely.

Filling your Christmas cracker, Christmas table decorations, photo

Once your little gifts are tucked safely inside, tie up the last end of the Christmas cracker and you’re all set! Now repeat for each lucky recipient.

If you’d like, you can embellish the outside of your crackers. I used some green outline stickers I had left over that doesn’t go with my current card making to use around the outer edges of the tube. I used a coordinating piece of sparkly chain link paper that I had purchased at such a great deal two years before I couldn’t have bought the paper for that price. You can decorate the outside of the cracker to suit each person’s tastes, or hint at what might be inside.

DIY Christmas Cracker, Home made Christmas ideas, Crystal's Tiny Treasures, photo

These little crackers are so pretty and fun, you can make them up ahead of time and use them as tree decorations as well. Double-duty frugality! I estimate that each of my crackers cost me under £.10 before I fill them with the gifts. Because I try to make the gifts from things I already have on-hand, these really are fantastic on the Christmas budget!

Have fun making these DIY Christmas crackers, and you’ll never go back to the impersonal, store bought ones again.

Merry Christmas!

This post was part of our 25 Frugal Days of Christmas series and was written by Crystal from Crystal’s Tiny Treasures.

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Crystal McClean is a wife, mother, home educator and childminder. Her heart is in Canada where she is from, but she is currently living in Northern Ireland and enjoying learning about life by the sea with her young family. They love to experience new things and enjoy the challenges life brings.

25 Frugal Days of Christmas at Frugal Homeschool Family

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Are you looking for more frugal Christmas ideas? Check out the other posts in this series:

Day 1: Create Your Own Photo Christmas Cards with free templates and tutorial
Day 2: Making Fun and Affordable Christmas Gifts
Day 3: How to Have a $5 Christmas
Day 4: Cookies in a Jar: a Frugal Christmas Recipe Round up with FREE printable gift tags
Day 5: Snowflake Card Craft for Kids
Day 6: DIY Snowman Ornament
Day 7: Printable Handmade with Love Gift Tags
Day 8: Frugal Family Traditions
Day 9: Bringing the 12 Days of Christmas to Life for your Spouse
Day 9 {2}: A Frugal Family Christmas Tradition

Heather Bowen is the founder and owner of She and her husband live in North Carolina where they homeschool their two daughters. Heather is a former Labor & Delivery Nurse who traded in her scrubs and began blogging full-time in 2013. She is so glad you’re visiting her blog today and hopes to connect with you!

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