British Christmas Crackers


Make someone's Christmas very merry by giving them this replica of a British tradition. Pull the cracker apart for holiday surprises!


1. Tom Smith invented the Christmas cracker in 1847. This tradition continues in Britain today. Crackers are small cardboard tubes covered with tissue paper. Two people pull on the tissue paper ends. When the cracker breaks, it makes a popping noise (from friction on a narrow strip of paper that has a chemical compound on it). Inside the cardboard tube are paper hats, small gifts, and a motto or joke.

2. In your community, find out how Christmas is celebrated. Research more about these crackers and other British Christmas celebrations, too.

3. Here's one way to make your own Christmas cracker (without the chemicals). Use Crayola® Scissors to cut a cardboard roll into a section at least as long as your hand. The larger it is, the more gifts you can tuck inside!

4. Cut tissue paper that is about twice as long as the cardboard roll. Wrap the tissue around the roll. Leave an even amount hanging over both ends. Attach paper to the tube with a Crayola Glue Stick.

5. Tie a festive ribbon or yarn around the tissue at one end of the roll. With Crayola Gel Markers, write a joke or season's greetings on a slip of paper. Place it in the tube.

6. Fill the tube with small gifts such as Crayola art supplies, confetti made by punching holes in colored paper, and a paper hat. Tie ribbon or yarn around the other end of the tube.

7. Use Crayola Gel Markers to decorate the tube. Use holiday symbols, words, and other designs to make it look festive.

8. Find a classmate to pull the cracker with you, or give it as a gift. Make your own popping sounds as you pull.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Recycled Cardboard Tubes—Use paper towel tubes, gift-wrap tubes, or long cardboard tubes that can be cut to any length. Health professionals caution against using recycled toilet paper tubes for arts & crafts projects because of the potential fecal contamination.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.

String-Like Materials—Includes string, raffia, lacing, yarn, ribbon, and other similar material. Children 3 years and younger should not be given any string-like material that is longer than 12 inches. Close adult supervision is essential whenever children use string-like material. When crafts are to be worn around the necks of children 8 years and younger, attach the ends of the “string-like material” with clear adhesive tape, which allows easy release of the bond if the craft becomes entangled or caught on equipment. For children older than 8 years, the ends of the “string-like material” may be tied and knotted.


  • Find out what songs are popular in England at Christmas. Sing and play the music for other classes or at an open house.
  • Research winter holiday traditions in another country. Create a craft based on a tradition that appeals to you.
  • With your classmates, make a list of all your families' winter holiday traditions. Create a "Winter Holiday" book with recipes, crafts, music, and other celebrations.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Gel Markers
  • Glue Sticks
  • Pointed Tip Scissors
  • Construction Paper
household supplies
  • ribbon
  • Hallmark tissue paper
  • recycled gift wrap or paper towel roll



  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Social Studies
  • Visual Arts


  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Children research the history of the British Christmas cracker and other cultural traditions.

  • Children create a British Christmas cracker, write a holiday message to include inside, and share it with someone else.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards