Crackers are a much-loved British tradition that people in many parts of the world enjoy as an essential component of any good Christmas celebration. We'll look at creating this fun project by hand and with the help of a Cricut machine, using a Cricut A4 cracker template.
If you're not familiar with Christmas crackers, they're basically a paper-based bon-bon that two people pull apart, making a bang and revealing small gifts, jokes, and paper crowns. Crackers are a lot of fun to make, and you can personalise them with handmade gifts for your recipients. In this step-by-step tutorial, you'll learn how to create your own Christmas crackers from scratch.
What You'll Need
Here's a list of the supplies you'll need to create your own Christmas crackers. Keep in mind that you have more than one option when it comes to using your paper cracker template. You could cut and prepare it by hand, or you could use a Cricut machine to easily create these cuts for you.
Make sure to check out the Cricut cracker template in this article, so you can download it and easily cut your own paper cracker template.
Here are the other materials you should have, in order to use your paper cracker template.
- Holiday-themed gift wrap or coloured card
- Precision knife
- Cutting mat
- Cracker snaps
- Transparent adhesive tape
- Tissue paper
- Gold marker or metallic paint and paintbrush
- Paper tags
- Twine or ribbon
- Kraft paper
- Washi tape
- Downloadable Template Files (A4 Cracker Template)
- A4 white paper and printer
We'll walk through both using a Cricut machine to create your cracker and doing it by hand in this walkthrough. Let's dig right in.
1. How to Create Christmas Crackers With a Cricut Cracker Template
First, prepare your wrapping paper. In this demonstration, we'll work with pieces of paper that are 9 inches tall by 12 inches wide, for use with a Cricut machine and the attached cracker template SVG. This is a little bigger than we'll need, just to leave room for error.
Each 9" x 12" piece will use the paper cracker template once.
Note: the thickness of your paper matters, especially if you plan to use your Cricut machine for this project!
Some giftwrap can be quite thin, which may be more difficult to work with when cutting with your Cricut machine. You may want to work with a thicker giftwrap. If you work with thinner paper, you will need to use some custom settings, and you may want to use a weeding tool.
I'm going to use this cardinal gift wrap in this demonstration.
Make sure you've downloaded the cracker template SVG, as we'll use this to easily cut our paper cracker template.
Next, let's turn to Cricut Design Space, the free software that comes with your Cricut machine. Note, we'll use the Cricut Explore Air 2 for this demonstration, but other models, like the Cricut Maker, are an excellent fit for this project. Just make sure your machine can handle the dimensions required for this project.
Begin by starting a New Project.
While in this New Project, click on the Upload button.
Select the cracker template SVG, and Cricut Design Space will add it to your list of recently uploaded images. All we need to do is select our cracker template SVG file and select Insert Images.
Now, our Cricut cracker template is loaded up into Cricut Design Space. You can also resize it here if you'd like to. When the template is selected, note that you can check out the dimensions at the top.
Next, position your wrapping paper on your Cricut cutting mat. I'll be using a LightGrip mat for this project. Make sure the paper is lined up with the units on the mat, as this will correspond to our alignment in Cricut Design Space.
I recommend placing the pattern side of your gift wrap facing down on the mat, especially if you are working with thinner paper. This way, if you experience any curling when you lift your project from the mat, it will curl in the direction you would roll the cracker anyway, rather than against it.
Once your wrapping paper has been placed properly on the cutting mat, insert it into your Cricut Machine tray. Don't press the load button just yet—just get it into the tray itself.
Now, we can return to Cricut Design Space and click Make It to begin cutting our project.
Cricut Design Space gives us a final preview before we commit. If you're happy with how your Cricut cracker template looks, click Continue.
However, now we have to tell the Cricut machine what kind of material we're cutting on. If you're using a Cricut Explore Air 2, make sure to set your dial to Custom. If you're using a Cricut Maker, this process is all digital, so you can choose your material via the software.
Set your Custom Material to Wrapping Paper. This is a very important step. If we chose "Paper", for example, it would likely cut too intensely and rip thin wrapping paper. That said, if you opt to go with thicker paper, make sure to choose a more appropriate setting.
Once you've chosen your settings, follow the instructions within Cricut Design Space: load your mat by pressing the Load button, and then press the Go button to begin.
And here's what it looks like, once the Cricut machine has made your cuts for you. It takes a lot of time and effort out of making such tiny cuts—and they're such straight, professional-looking cuts too!
Tip: Since wrapping paper can be quite thin, make sure to take your time. I used a weeding tool to remove all the smaller pieces within the Cricut cracker template, so I didn't accidentally rip anything. This is not a time to be heavy-handed or to yank the paper off the mat haphazardly.
And here's my Cricut cracker template cut and removed from my cutting mat. No need to spend time cutting out each little slice of paper between each piece here, because the Cricut did it all for me. Simple!
However, again, remember not to be heavy-handed. A weeding tool is highly recommended for easy removal of smaller pieces of paper. I recommend removing all the excess paper first, and then slowly removing your final product from the mat.
2. How to Cut the Christmas Crackers by Hand
Now, let's look at working with the paper cracker template without a Cricut machine, by hand.
First, you need to cut your wrapping paper into sheets of 18 cm x 28 cm (7 in x 11 in). These dimensions are the size of the crackers if you print the pattern on an A4 sheet. Place the cutting mat on your working surface, and place the wrapping paper on top, with the printed side facing downwards.
Now, calculate and mark the dimensions and cut using a cutter and a ruler as a guide. If you are using coloured card in A4 size, you don't need to trim it yet—just use the A4 as it is.
Create as many paper sheets as the crackers require. You can create up to 15 crackers with the wrapping paper I used.
Click on the template image to get the right size file, which can also be printed in black and white to avoid wasting ink. The white areas in the template represent the parts that need to be cut out. Print out the template as many times as you need in A4 paper size. You could also print it on the back of your wrapping paper.
Place the wrapping paper back on the cutting mat, with your printed template placed on top. Make sure the border of the wrapping paper aligns perfectly with the outer borders of the template. When you're happy with the positioning, use sticky tape to keep the paper secure. The best way is to place the tape diagonally on all the corners, making sure the paper is completely flat.
Use your precision knife to carefully cut out the two rows of rhombus holes. This is the trickiest bit, where more patience is required, so hold tight.
When all the holes are done, cut out the rest of the pieces to create the correct outline of the cracker, as demonstrated below. Well done!
3. How to Assemble Hand-Made Christmas Crackers
Now it's time to fold your individual crackers. Using a ruler for guidance, fold along the dotted lines of the template.
Fold the rhombus zone inwards and crease well.
Lay the cracker flat on the surface. The folded areas should look like this.
Now pick up one long side of the cracker and roll it towards the other side. The rhombus cuts will allow the paper to form a bon-bon shape instead of a tube.
Secure the cracker in place by inserting the tabs in place. Leave it closed while you prepare the rest of your goodies, so that it settles in the shape. Repeat the same procedure to make as many crackers as you have guests at the dinner table. Nicely done!
4. Make the Paper Crowns
Cut off a strip of tissue paper about 9 cm (3.5 in) wide. Use the whole length of the package of tissue paper.
Fold the strip accordion-style and then trim the top by creating zig-zag cuts (or cut out triangular shapes).
Separate each tissue paper strip. Add a festive decorative touch to your crowns with a gold marker. You can make circles, dots, lines, or just add some gold accents along the top of the crowns. I used metallic gold acrylic paint and a paintbrush. It works well for washy-gold accents, but a pen is more suitable for precision designs.
When the designs are ready and dry, trim the strips of tissue paper. They need to be about 60 cm (23.6 in) long. If you plan to make some crowns for kids, just make them a bit smaller. Then make the two ends overlap, and join them together with sticky tape to form a circle.
When they're ready, fold the tissue paper crowns neatly so they can fit inside the cracker.
5. Prepare the Jokes
Cut small strips of kraft paper using either scissors or a cutter. Write down a joke on each slip of paper. Roll the paper up into a small tube and close it with some washi tape. Done!
6. Add the Snaps
The crackers in this tutorial are slightly smaller than your average cracker as the template needed to be printed on A4 paper. This means that you will need to slightly trim the snaps to fit the length of each cracker.
Open up the cracker. Fold the two ends of the snap (around half an inch) and glue them down inside the cracker, along the long side.
7. Fill and Close the Crackers
When the snaps are firmly glued in place, it's time to fill your crackers with all the goodies. Place one folded crown and one joke inside the main body of each cracker. Then you can add some small gifts, like wrapped sweets or chocolate coins. But if you'd like to include some handmade treats, why not check out some of our craft tutorials:
- For girls, you can make jewellery like a fine chain-beaded friendship bracelet, a crystal necklace, or a gorgeous nautical knot necklace. A handmade natural lipbalm is also a great idea.
- For boys, you can make a bow tie, a knitted coffee cozy, or some really cool (and geeky) computer keyboard magnets. Or you could include some nicely wrapped organic plant seeds.
- For kids, you could make some adorable Christmas finger puppets or some tangram magnets.
- If you want to surprise everyone, go for gender-neutral trinkets like a key chain, an elastic notebook pencil strap, or a pineapple pom-pom.
When all the crackers are full of handmade goodness, roll them up. Close them securely by tucking the central tab into the cut-out slot.
Gently close the edges in the same way.
If you have personalized crackers, it's helpful to add name tags so everybody gets the correct gift. Write the names of your guests on the kraft paper tags.
Now, gently tie the two ends of the cracker with some twine or ribbon.
Attach the tags directly after closing each cracker to avoid any mistakes. Good job, well done!
Pull Your Crackers and Enjoy!
Your crackers are now ready to be pulled. You'll surprise your friends and family and bring even more joy to your Christmas dinner table. Well done!
In this tutorial, you learned how to create your own handmade crackers from scratch—both entirely by hand and with a Cricut cracker template. You learned how to cut and fold the paper to create the cracker. You can also use this skill to make some bon-bon-shaped gift packages out of coloured card. You also learned how to make some quick and easy paper crowns, which is a handy skill you can use again for party planning.
A Cricut machine and a Cricut cracker template can certainly speed up the process, but there is a lot of fun in doing it all by hand too. Which do you prefer?
Are you going to make your own Christmas crackers this year? Do you prefer using a Cricut for craft projects like this, or do you cut your works by hand? What will you put inside your Christmas crackers? Looking forward to hearing all your comments, and happy Christmas to you all!
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