Christmas crackers were invented by British confectioner Thomas Smith, back in 1846. While visiting Paris, he came across a sugared almond wrapped in tissue paper, and thought this would be a nice festive way of eating sweets at Christmas time. By 1860, he had added chemically impregnated paper to the crackers, to make a loud bang. Originally called ‘bangs of expectation’, today millions of Christmas crackers are bought each year, to be enjoyed around the table.
Unfortunately, his ‘good idea at the time’ has resulted in many issues. Christmas crackers can’t be recycled due to their make-up, so bins are overflowing on Boxing Day with 40 million crackers that languish on landfill for years, often with glitter and foil. Most also contain more plastic inside (cheap toys etc), and the ‘bangs’ can terrify babies and especially pets.
So not to be a party pooper, what’s to do? The good news is that you can now buy eco-friendly Christmas crackers. There are reusable ones (just wrap the fabric around zero waste gifts and pack away till next year). Or more eco-friendly disposable options. Let’s take a look:
No matter how ‘safe’, always keep Christmas crackers away from small children and pets, due to choking hazards. For cracker gifts (included or homemade), keep toxic foods and plants away from animal friends – read more on keeping pets safe at Christmas.
linen reusable crackers with woodland designs
These woodland crackers are made from linen (flax plant) and embroidered with satin thread. In beautiful designs, just fill with your own gifts. Choose a box or mixed designs, or individual designs (robin, reindeer, wreath, tree, holly or mistletoe). Sponge-clean only, not to use as napkins or place mats.
fabric crackers (that turn into napkins)
2 Green Monkeys offer nice fabric crackers, fill with your own gifts, then pack away to use again. Sold as single crackers of boxes (bright or traditional dark green and red festive colours), you can add optional embroidering of names. After pulling apart (no bang), just unroll to reuse as napkins for dinner!
reusable crackers with low-noise eco-snaps
KeepThisCracker is a company that makes pretty crackers that you can still pull, and use low-noise eco-snaps that are kinder to pets and young children. Free from single-use plastic, these are sold in various designs and colours, and you just ‘pull with a pop’ then refill with more snaps to use next year. They’re sold in a reusable card wallet, and tied with ribbons made from recycled plastic bottles. Each order includes full instructions.