A Christmas cracker is a Christmas staple. But, when the bad jokes are the best thing about them, you know something’s not quite right. Its time for an upgrade. 

As founder of My Green Christmas, Sarah Wood, puts it:

“It’s funny, crackers are a real leveler. When you’re sat around a table with friends and family who you might not see that often and you give everybody a cracker, get them to pull it, put a hat on, and tell a joke, that’s when the party’s started, hasn’t it? So, it feels important to have crackers at Christmas, but why not in a sustainable way?” 

If you feel like no Christmas table is complete without a cracker and a bang, here are some great eco-friendly alternatives to the supermarket classic – and they don’t come with a useless plastic toy…

RECYCLABLE CHRISTMAS CRACKERS

£1.50 PER CRACKER, HOUSE OF CRACKERS

These recyclable Christmas crackers come with a snap, hat and a joke – but no gift, for £1.50 each. You can refill them with whatever you fancy. A lovely hand cream? (Organic, natch). A delightful chocolate? (Fairtrade, of course). Your cracker-pulling guests will thank you for it, and you’ll definitely be the host with the most. 

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£25 FOR SIX, MY GREEN CHRISTMAS: 

My Green Christmas seed crackers

This packet of six Christmas Crackers each contains the long lasting gift of a packet of seeds: Sunflower, White Daisy, Red Poppy, Chives, Basil or Parsley. So, instead of the usual useless plastic toys you instantly break, lose or simply never use again, these seeds can be planted, bringing joy to your loved ones long after Christmas and into the New Year. 

Sarah Wood explains how she came up with these crackers over post-Christmas dinner with friends:

“We were talking about how wasteful Christmas is. You know, there’s that moment at the end of a Christmas dinner, where everyone’s finished their food, the crackers have been pulled. And you come along and almost scoop everything up and just dump it in the bin because you’ve got things with glitter on, foil, plastic frogs, or mustaches that noone uses again. I just felt that this isn’t right. So we started to think, can we do something? Yes. And that’s how My Green Christmas was formed.”

A thoughtful gesture for your guests and the environment too, they are made in the UK from FSC card, are entirely plastic-free and 100% recyclable. They’re finished off with a biodegradable green ribbon made from wood pulp derived from Pine and Eucalyptus trees, which means you can just pop them in your green bin – though they’re lovely enough to hold onto and reuse! 

Adding the star on top of the tree, for every box of crackers sold one tree is planted!

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CHARITY CHRISTMAS CRACKERS

£24.95 FOR 24, ADVENT OF CHANGE

Eco-friendly Christmas crackers | Advent of Change

These beautiful bad boys are plastic-free, eco-friendly and recyclable, and each of the crackers contains a donation to a different charity. 

When you crack each cracker, you’ll find out which charity you’ve helped and what impact you’ve had, prettily enclosed in a little Christmas bauble. 

What’s more, each of the 24 crackers has a different joke written by a celebrity – but we won’t tell you who, because that would be telling…

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REUSABLE CHRISTMAS CRACKERS

£19 FOR SIX, ETSY

Purchase this set of six re-usable crackers for £18 and they will be delivered flat-packed. OK, they’re not round, but each one can be constructed and filled with a gift of choice. Plus, the refillable ‘snaps’ mean they can be used again and again. This brilliant online shop sells everything you need to make fun, eco-friendly crackers of your own. 

Personalise these Party Crackers, with stickers, stamps or simply add your own decorations on them. These crackers have a matt finish so you can draw and paint on them too! Perfect to decorate your party table or use as gift wrapping for those special presents. Made in UK.

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£14.95 FOR ONE, OR £74.50 FOR SIX, KATE SPRONSTON CRACKERS 

Kate Spronston reusable Christmas Crackers

These eco-friendly reusable embroidered crackers are beautifully crafted with care and attention to detail. Handmade in the UK, they are made with high-quality UK made materials, including a recycled cardboard inner tube, 100% natural linen, embroidered with satin thread, completed with green satin ribbon ties.

These crackers were born out of founder Kate Spronston’s love for traditional and contemporary embroidery, as well as her experience growing up in a household full of handmade toys and gifts:

“When I was growing up, my mum used to make her own Christmas crackers. When I started my business, I thought how fantastic it would be to have really beautifully embroidered crackers that we could keep using.

“The crackers you buy in the shops are full of such rubbish, and I thought these would be a nice way to gift loved ones something special. So, that’s how the crackers came about. And as the years have gone on, I started to realise the environmentally friendly benefits of them too.”

So, though they are snap free, you can still make a bang – by filling them with a personal message and special gift – perhaps money, tickets, vouchers, or even make a grand announcement…

“I had the most amazing story. A lady bought just one cracker to give to her parents and she put inside the baby scan photo. So when they opened it on Christmas morning, it was a scan of the first grandchild. I can’t beat that.” – Kate Spronston

These crackers are a lovely investment that will stay with you year after year (as long as you  don’t drown them in gravy…). 

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OR… YOU CAN DIY YOUR CHRISTMAS CRACKERS

No, we’re not crackers (sorry not sorry). 

The DIY Christmas cracker route involves saving cardboard toilet roll inserts and rolling them in an A4 piece of fabric of your choice. 

Fill with a handwritten joke and gift and tie with string at each end – it’s really that simple. 

These look festive, but are untied – rather than pulled apart – by each guest (a small sacrifice 

Main image: Advent of Change