Activities: Make Your Own Victorian Christmas Crackers
The Christmas cracker was invented in Victorian Britain by a sweet shop owner called Thomas Smith. Wanting to take advantage of the increase in confectionary sales at Christmas and inspired by a sweet he saw on a trip to Paris – a bon-bon wrapped in tissue paper with both ends twisted - he came up with the cracker.
Take coloured paper and lay out, we used crepe paper. If you use crepe paper it's a good idea to have several layers of different colours. Evenly space three cardboard rolls across the paper - these are the formers which create the shape of the cracker.
Glue along one edge of the paper and roll tightly over the three cardboard rolls. Stick the edge down firmly.
In Victorian times you could buy sheets of colourful printed labels that were used for craft activities. We have provided you with some original Victorian designs to decorate your crackers. Choose one of the designs (T1), cut out and stick on to your cracker.
Place one cracker snap inside the cracker and slip in your chosen treats.
In Thomas Smith's first crackers he placed just sweets inside; later on he started to use paper hats, small toys and mottos, much like our crackers today.
Lastly, use ribbon, raffia or string to tie the two ends of the cracker and remove the two end formers.
Now your cracker is finished you just need to find someone to pull it with.
Send your friends and family some original Christmas cards.
Wrap your gifts in something special.
Turn simple paper into an impressive table decoration.
See all 25 activities to make your own Victorian Christmas.
National Archives: Victorian Britain
History in Focus: The Victorian Era
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victorian Web
British Library: Online Exhibition: Victorian Britain
Pollock's Toy Museum