Looking for reusable, plastic-free, or sustainable Christmas crackers this festive season? Here’s my pick of the best eco-friendly crackers in the UK so that your Christmas goes with a bang!
Christmas crackers have a long history, dating back to the 1840s. However, with statistics showing that an extra 30% of waste is produced and discarded throughout the festive period, attention has turned to the humble Christmas cracker as one element of that waste mountain. In fact, it is estimated that over 40 million Christmas crackers end up in the bin on Christmas Day each year.
In response, some forward-thinking retailers have stopped putting plastic toys inside Christmas crackers. Instead, they favour paper, metal, or wooden trinkets as a more eco-friendly Christmas cracker option. However, for some, this isn’t enough. Some people have been calling for Christmas crackers to be banned altogether.
If Christmas just isn’t Christmas in your household without a Christmas cracker to pop before dinner, then worry not. Some clever retailers and crafters have come up with eco-friendly Christmas crackers that can be used time and time again.
Other retailers have started to produce fully recyclable crackers. Here, the outer wrappers can go straight into your recycling bin. Not only that, but the contents are plastic-free too. This means you can still have a cracking Christmas, without contributing to landfill.
Guide To The Best Eco-Friendly Christmas Crackers
Don’t worry – it’s not hard to track down Christmas crackers that are eco-friendly and sustainable. Here are ten of the best to get you started, catering to a wide range of budgets:
- Keep This Cracker
- Marks & Spencer
- Mummy’s Marvellous Makes
- Tom Smith
- Olive Lane
- Cosmo Gets Crafty
- Kate Sproston Design
If you opt for refillable crackers then I’ve also got ideas for what to put in them, and some top-tier jokes to go in them, so keep scrolling for those too!
Keep This Cracker
If you are looking for something eco-friendly that still performs like a traditional Christmas cracker, then try Keep This Cracker (£22 – £24 at Not On The High Street for six reusable crackers).
These cardboard crackers, available in a range of colours and patterns, are ones that you can pull again and again. All you need to do is replace the snap each time. And the good news is, that at £2.50 for 12 snaps, it’s not prohibitively expensive to replace them. What’s more, the snaps are recyclable and compostable for a low-waste party that goes with a bang.
The Christmas crackers themselves are recyclable and compostable and are printed in the UK with water/vegetable-based inks on cardboard from responsible sources. Even though they are made of cardboard, they are durable. We’ve found you can pull them quite hard and they don’t tear.
What I also like is that even the ribbon has been carefully considered. These are woven in the UK using yarns made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.
The eco-friendly Christmas crackers come flat-packed and in plastic-free packaging, ready to pop into shape and fill with your own special gifts. And cleverly, after Christmas, the crackers can then be flat-packed and stored away for next year’s celebrations.
Marks & Spencer
Big-name retailers are also coming around to the idea of eco-friendly plastic-free Christmas crackers. Marks & Spencer, for example, offers a wide range of plastic-free Christmas crackers, from £7.
All crackers contain the obligatory paper hat and a joke. And depending on the box of crackers you choose, some contain games, some contain wooden tree decorations, some contain recyclable metal gifts, and others contain jigsaw puzzles. These crackers will definitely keep you entertained throughout Christmas dinner and beyond.
What’s also to love is that as well as being fully plastic-free, everything is fully recyclable – from the box to the crackers themselves, right down to the raffia paper ribbons. The crackers are also made from FSC-certified sources – meaning that the paper and card only come from sustainably managed forests.
Mummy’s Marvellous Makes
If you’re not so fussed about the actual bang, then Mummy’s Marvellous Makes sells a set of six eco-friendly and refillable Christmas crackers for £32, again from Not On The High Street. Simply undo the ribbon to reveal the cracker’s contents.
These pretty fabric crackers, which come in a variety of festive patterns, are made from 100% cotton. And for a clever extra touch, the ribbons are sewn into the cracker to prevent you from losing the ribbons.
Tom Smith offers a set of six plastic-free crackers from Etsy (£18.95), which are entirely recyclable – right down to the raffia paper ribbons.
These crackers are pretty stylish – and will make any festive table look great. Plus the contents are made from wood, for a smaller impact on the environment.
If you’re looking for a touch of luxury when it comes to your Christmas table, then Olive Lane’s eco-friendly Christmas crackers (£18 each from Not On The High Street) are one to look at. Again, these crackers should be untied to reveal their contents, rather than pulling them.
At £18 each, these crackers are admittedly not cheap. However, for something that might get passed down through your family, as part of your family traditions, then it may work out as economical in the long run. And for that extra touch, each cracker can be personalised with a name or festive message.
Cosmo Gets Crafty
Cosmo Gets Crafty’s pretty Christmas crackers (£28 for two at Not On The High Street) are made from natural cotton fabric, and embroidered with a rich red thread. Inside each cracker, there’s a robust cardboard tube, where you can pop a gift and a handwritten joke.
To open the Christmas cracker untie the red satin ribbon at either end. The ribbons are secured to the cracker for a sleek look and to make sure you don’t lose them when you come to reuse them.
Again, this isn’t the cheapest option. However, if you are able to buy them upfront, this reusable option may well work out cheaper compared to buying disposable crackers every Christmas.
Kate Sproston Design
Kate Sproston Design’s pretty Scandinavian-inspired eco-friendly crackers (£14.95 per cracker, or £59.55 for six at Not On The High Street) make for a sweet touch for any Christmas dinner table.
With a durable cardboard inner tube made from recycled material, these crackers are available in ivory cotton or natural linen, all embroidered with Scandinavian designs. You can select an individual cracker from a choice of six embroidered motifs (sleigh, reindeer, snowflake, bells, bird, or Christmas Tree). Alternatively, you can choose a complete set of six crackers, for use year after year after year.
2GreenMonkeys – available on Etsy – has a small but perfectly formed range of reusable and eco-friendly Christmas crackers. You can buy single crackers for £14 each, in a choice of 12 colours. Alternatively, you can pick up a set of 5 for £60.
The sets come in different colourways. Here you can pick from pastel tones, jewel tones, or traditional festive red, white, and green tones.
What’s to love about these eco-friendly crackers is that they aren’t just reusable, but multi-purpose. Oh yes, these beauties double up as napkins! Simply “pull the cracker” by untieing it, and then unroll the napkin ready for Christmas dinner. How clever is that? Just make sure you treat any stains before they set so that the crackers look good year after year.
What’s also to love is that the Christmas crackers can also be personalised with an embroidered name or message, at no extra cost.
After use, you just need to wash your napkin. Once clean and dry, simply refill the cardboard tube, roll the napkin around the tube, and tie your cracker at both ends. Worried about them looking dog-eared? Well, worry not! 2GreenMonkeys says a little bit of starch can help your crackers keep a good shape.
What To Put Inside Your Christmas Crackers
If you opt for refillable and reusable crackers you might be wondering what to put in them. Wonder no more – here are some eco-friendly ideas for what to put inside your Christmas crackers, depending on the recipient.
- homemade chocolates
- foil-wrapped chocolates
- packets of seeds
- mini jars of jam
- Christmas tree decorations
- mini sewing kits
- mini soap bars
- pin badges
- mini hand creams
- mini bottles of alcohol (not for kids, obviously!)
- lip balms
- hair clips
I’ve opted for small, relatively inexpensive options, but the only limits are your imagination and budget.
Of course, you don’t need to add physical objects. Instead, you could put non-consumerist ideas inside your Christmas crackers. I think written questions that get the conversation flowing over dinner would work perfectly. My ideas include:
- the person’s favourite joke
- ask the person to tell their funniest story
- ask the person to share their most embarrassing faux pas.
- a truth or dare for the person to do
- ask the person if they can do any impressions of celebrities.
- ask the person what your DJ, wrestling, or darts name would be (e.g. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor).
I’d love to hear any of your ideas, so please do share in the comments below!
The Best Christmas Cracker Jokes To Write
If you are using reusable crackers, then remember that Christmas isn’t Christmas without the terrible cracker jokes you get inside standard crackers.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to invent your own cracker jokes. Luckily for you, terrible dad jokes are my forte! Here are ten of the best (or worst, depending on your opinion!) to get you started.
- How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas? One that’s deep-pan, crisp and even!
- Who hides in the bakery at Christmas? A mince spy!
- What did the sea say to Santa? Nothing! It just waved!
- What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck? A Christmas quacker!
- Who is Santa’s favourite singer? Elf-is Presley
- Why can’t Christmas trees knit? Because they always drop their needles!
- Who’s Rudolph’s favourite pop star? Beyon-sleigh!
- What do you get if you cross a bell with a skunk? Jingle Smells!
- What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinselitis!
- Why has Santa been banned from sooty chimneys? Carbon footprints!
I also get my kids to write the jokes, and make and decorate hats out of paper or crepe paper. It’s like a little mini production line, and a great activity to keep kids occupied on Christmas Eve!
If you’re busy getting ready for Christmas then you can also check out my guide to having an eco-friendly Christmas. It’s bursting with festive ideas that are kind to the planet! From choosing an eco-friendly Christmas tree to helping with finding eco-friendly gifts and wrapping paper, it’s all in there.