Christmas crackers are a much-loved Christmas dinner tradition in most UK homes (including mine) – but they are also incredibly wasteful and bad for the environment. So how can we make them more eco-friendly?
Luckily there are lots of environmentally-friendly options to choose from.
And as a massive 154 million Christmas crackers are pulled in the UK each year, if we’re all able to make sustainable choices it will have a very positive impact on the environment.
Replace Christmas crackers with something else
If it’s the opening of a small gift and celebratory feel that crackers bring to the Christmas dinner table that you love the most, there are lots of ways to recreate this without the waste that traditional crackers cause.
Options include reusable fabric bags, glass jars, matchboxes or mini Christmas stockings filled with jokes, sweets, chocolates, homemade biscuits, conversation starters and paper (or reusable fabric) crowns.
These alternatives still make fantastic place settings – and you can present your guests with a meaningful, reusable gift that’s personal to them (and perhaps larger than would fit in a standard cracker).
I particularly love these personalisable snowflake reusable gift bags – they’re so pretty and different!
Reusable Christmas crackers
If you want to create less waste but want to have traditional crackers decorating your festive lunch table, reusable Christmas crackers could be the perfect option for you.
You can choose between beautifully-embroidered fabric creations or attractive versions made from sturdy cardboard – both of which should last you for years to come.
You can even have crackers personalised, with your intended recipients’ name or initials embroidered or printed on them!
It’s then down to you to choose which eco-friendly gifts to give your guests each year (in most cases anything that fits inside a cardboard loo roll tube will fit, but check the size of the specific crackers you’re buying).
Bear in mind that the initial investment is usually quite a bit higher than for disposable crackers – but you only have to make the outlay once.
Also, some reusable crackers don’t ‘bang’ when you open them – a blessing for your pets, perhaps, but bear this in mind if this is a popular tradition in your household.
I really like these reusable Christmas Kraft cardboard crackers which are made with water/vegetable-based inks and are recyclable and compostable.
These Scandi-style fabric crackers are also a beautiful option which could become an important part of your Christmas celebrations for many years to come.
Crackers decorated with glitter, ribbons and other embellishments can’t be recycled, and plastic gifts and packaging also often end up in landfill.
The good news is that lots of manufacturers and retailers are now reducing or removing the non-recyclable elements of the crackers they sell.
Some of them are also replacing plastic gifts with made-to-last alternatives – or encouraging customers to fill their own crackers with sustainable presents.
Thanks to these changes, recyclable, recycled and plastic-free crackers are now much easier to find in shops and online than they were a few years ago.
For example these Tom Smith crackers are made from recycled materials and contain no single-use plastic.
Some crackers are also printed with vegetable inks, Forest Stewardship Council-approved (FSC) and/or a tree is planted for each box of crackers sold – so keep a close eye on labels and online descriptions.
Plantable Christmas crackers
You can also help do your bit for the environment by choosing plantable Christmas crackers made from seed paper.
For example these eco-friendly crackers can be planted in the garden once your guests have finished with them.
They can then enjoy watching them grow into beautiful plants, herbs or flowers!
Another lovely option is to choose Christmas crackers that contain a packet of seeds as a thoughtful and bee-friendly gift (or simply add a packet of seeds to a set of fill-your-own crackers).
Make your own eco-friendly Christmas crackers
If you’re a creative, crafty person, you’ll be able to make Christmas crackers quite easily – and often from bits and bobs you’re likely to already have at home.
Leftover wrapping paper, brown kraft paper, old wallpaper, newspaper or plain paper, cardboard tubes (eg from toilet or kitchen roll), eco-friendly sticky tape, cracker snaps, string, glue – plus sustainable fillings of your choice – will all come in handy!
There are lots of patterns and instructions to follow online; just Google ‘how to make your own Christmas crackers’ and pick your favourite method!
I hope this blog post has given you some ideas for how to write a great Christmas round-robin letter – do let me know if you have your own tips!
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