Barneblad: Christmas crackers!

christmas crackers

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Smellebonbon—Christmas crackers—make a cracking bang sound when pulled open.

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

Christmas crackers—known as smellebonbon in Norwegian—are festive table decorations that make a snapping sound when pulled open, and they often contain a small gift and a joke. Crackers are pulled during Christmas dinner or at Christmas and parties. Adults love the festive touch they can add to a holiday table, and children love the surprises inside!

Christmas crackers traditionally contain a colorful crown-shaped hat made of tissue paper, a small toy, a trinket, and a small strip of paper with a motto, joke, riddle, or piece of trivia.

The paper hats, with the appearance of crowns, are usually worn when eating Christmas dinner. The tradition of wearing festive hats is believed to date all the way back to Roman times.

The tradition of Christmas crackers came to Norway and the United States from England. It is believed that the London baker and candymaker Tom Smith invented them in his shop in 1847. Smith sold bonbons wrapped in a twist of papers and came up with the idea to put little love messages in the wrappers.

Smith added the “crackle” element when he heard the crackle of a log he had just put on a fire. Little gifts and paper hats were later introduced by his son, Walter, as the crackers became more popular and competition increased.

Make your own smellebonbon

But you don’t have to go to a shop to get our Christmas crackers. The great thing about them is that they are so easy to make and the entire family can join in on the fun. 

Most of you already have the supplies you need at home: 

  • Paper-towel cardboard tube
  • Colorful wrapping paper
  • Transparent sticky tape
  • Scissors
  • Decorative string or ribbon
  • Small but exciting things to put inside the crackers 
  • OPTIONAL: Cracker snaps (you can find them at a crafts store or online)

Step-by-step DIY smellebonbon

Cut the paper towel tube in half (this will make two crackers).

Cut a piece of wrapping paper to size. It needs to completely wrap around the tube and have about 3 to 4 inches on each side. 

OPTIONAL: Thread a cracker snap through the tube and tape it down on each end.

Select some small “goodies” to stuff in the tube. We suggest:

a.    Wrapped hard candies or chocolates kisses.

b.    A little piece of paper with a Norwegian saying of your choice. God Jul! (Merry Christmas!) and Jeg elsker deg! (I love you!) are, of course, very appropriate, but you can be creative!

c.    A tissue paper crown.

i.    Cut the long way down a sheet of tissue paper to make a 3-inch-wide strip.

ii.    Glue, tape or staple the strip into a circle that will fit the recipient’s head. About 17 inches is the right size for a child; make an adult crown about 21 inches if you cannot measure the recipient’s head directly.

iii.    Make a vertical fold in the center of the crown, and then fold the crown in half vertically two or three times. You will have a rectangle 2 to 3 inches wide.

iv.    Cut the top of the crown at an angle or into a fancy shape. When you unfold the crown, the design will be repeated along the top edge.

Wrap the paper around the tube and tape it.

Carefully pinch the ends with your fingers.

Wrap ribbon around each end

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 17, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.