How to make your Christmas crackers plastic-free, for a more sustainable festive season!
When I first started on this eco-living journey of mine, I thought it would be a relatively simple process. Ya know, switch out a water bottle here, have a meatless Monday there. That sort of thing!
The problem is though, when you go down the eco-living rabbit hole, there’s no turning back. You begin to realise that there’s plastic almost everywhere, that even your clothes have a negative impact on the planet and, well, don’t even get me started on holidays.
Of course, it’s totally worth it and it’s all about taking steps in the right direction to avoid overwhelm, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always as straight-forward as you may expect.
All of that to say, when I started on this eco-living journey of mine, I never thought that I’d be trying to make Christmas crackers more environmentally conscious. But here I am.
This year, when the cold weather hit and I started to get off my tits on excitement for the festive season, my planning was done through eco-warrior lenses. That meant that even though I did find the most beautiful crackers in my colour scheme and that would look pretty bloody perfect on my table, I couldn’t bring myself to buy them.
The non-biodegradable glitter. The non-recyclable coated paper. The teeny little plastic toys and trinkets that would end up getting left behind anyway. It made me shudder!
After researching and finding some more sustainable pre-made options, I figured out that the best thing to do was to make and fill my own. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a Christmas craft.
Either way, here’s how I made plastic-free crackers that are as festive as they are sustainable.
How to make eco-friendly Christmas Crackers
What you’ll need
– 6 cracker nets
Try to avoid kits that contain coated paper or which have designs on them that use glitter, this can prevent the crackers from being recycled once finished with. For mine, I used nets made from recycled (and recyclable!) brown craft paper.
You can find these in most craft shops at this time of year or online.
Of course, these are optional. But is it really a cracker if it doesn’t “bang”? Again, craft shops are a great place for these during the festive season.
– String or twine
Opt for natural string, not one that contains plastic. Your local garden centre will have you covered.
– 5 large oranges
We’re going to use the peels to decorate our crackers, so try to plan your meals this week around having lots of spare oranges! Nobody likes food waste.
– Star cutters
Star-shaped cookies cutters of various sizes are perfect for the job, unless you’ve got a steady and might be able to use a knife.
The best thing about making your own crackers is that you can truly personalise what’s inside, based on who will be pulling them! Whether you want to go all out and create luxury crackers, or want to stick to something more traditional, I’ve listed some ethical and eco-friendly filler ideas later in this post.
– A needle
– Something heavy, like a mallet or a cooking book
– An oven
Making your plastic-free crackers
Step one: Fill and ensemble your crackers
Assemble your crackers before you decorate them, as this will only get more fiddly as you embellish! The good news is, most “fill your own cracker” sets and cracker nets are pretty self-explanatory to put together.
Simply follow the instructions given with yours. And make sure you include your gift!
Step two: Make your orange stars
As with all good things in life, this was inspired by a crafty project I saw on Pinterest.
To make my cracker look, well, not totally boring, I decided to add some dried orange stars. Not only do they look ridiculously festive, but they’re 100% compostable once finished with.
To make the stars, carefully cut the peel off your oranges. Try to make sure that they have as little of the actual orange on them as possible, as the moisture will mean they’ll take longer to dry. Once finished, use your cookie cutters to then cut the peel into different sized stars.
This can be tricky in places so have something heavy (like a wooden mallet or a big cooking book!) to help push the cutter through the peel.
Step Three: Add a hole to your stars
Once you have a collection of adorable stars in front of you, use a thick needle to poke a hole through one point of each. This is where you’re going to thread them onto the cracker and it has to be done before drying the peels.
Step Four: Cook your stars
This is the bit where you need to be on high alert!
Place your stars in the oven on a rack so that air can get to both sides. Use the lowest heat setting possible and cook them for about one hour to dry them out. But be CAREFUL. Keep a close eye on them so that they don’t burn, which can happen quicker than you might expect.
Step Five: Thread your stars
Finally, thread the stars onto pieces of string and tie a knot on the back so that they stay on securely.
I did mine in varying lengths to add dimension to the crackers. So, with your assembled crackers in front of you, measure by eye how long you think you’d like them to be. Since the finished item has a “rustic” look, you don’t need to be precise.
Step Six: Decorate your crackers
Tie your pieces of string to the “neck” of each cracker. Then, tie another piece of string around the neck into a bow, to cover any knots and messy bits!
Finally, write names on the crackers in metallic pen. I sketched mine in pencil first to make sure I got it right. This part means that the crackers can be used as a place holder on a Christmas table or added to a hamper!
What to fill your crackers with
And there you have it, now you can officially be smug! Not only did you make YOUR OWN CRACKERS, but they’re also plastic-free and better for the planet.
Fell free to boast about it throughout the whole festive season.
Save this craft for later on Pinterest…