You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.
Cover a stuffed cardboard tube with used wrapping paper to finish your cracker.

Use up holiday waste for new year

Photos by Lara Neel | The Journal Gazette
Party “crackers” are tubes filled with treats for your guests.

The Christmas holiday was Saturday and across northeast Indiana, there surely are trash bags filled with wrapping paper, ribbons and the cardboard tubes the gift wrap was packaged with.

What to do with all those recyclables? Use them for New Year’s Eve.

In Europe, “crackers” are a popular Christmas party favor, but they can just as easily be used on New Year’s Eve here, and you can use those cardboard tubes, gift wrap and ribbons a second time.

And, why not use the concept of the cracker to teach your guests a little bit about New Year’s celebrations around the globe?

According to Olde English Crackers, a company that sells the party favors, crackers are: “decorative party favors widely used in Great Britain to celebrate a variety of special occasions and festive events. They consist of a beautifully wrapped and decorated cardboard cylinder containing a paper crown (tissue party hat), a motto (British joke or riddle), a snap (popping device) and a small gift or novelty item. At dinners and parties, crackers are used to decorate individual place settings and are usually opened prior to serving the meal or refreshments. The pulling of crackers and donning of the party hats creates a relaxed, festive atmosphere certain to get any party function off the ground. Crackers provide a colorful and exciting start to any celebration, and also present each guest with a gift by which to remember the days events.”

I propose they don’t have to be so elaborate, and they can be filled with whatever you wish. Have a specific theme? Fill them with items that match your theme. Or, just fill them with candy. Better yet, take a look at, where you’ll find an explanation of how a variety of countries celebrate the new year, and fill your crackers with something that resembles the new year in a foreign land. You also could fill each cracker with something from a different country.

Some examples? In Bolivia, straw or wood dolls bring good luck. Buy wooden cutouts of girls or boys and decorate them to put in your crackers.

In Scotland, children are given coins or other treats. You could buy chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil and fill your cracker with those. Or, really, any treat would suffice (take advantage of discounted Christmas candy). In France, according to, chocolate fish fill the windows of confectioners’ shops. Can’t find chocolate fish? Buy Swedish fish candies to represent France.

In Belgium, golden cherubs and angels, colored roses and ribbon-tied garlands are the motifs for New Year. Find a cute, deeply discounted angel ornament and include it in your cracker. In Australia, noisemakers such as rattles or bells are used. Add those in with whatever goodies you put in your crackers.

Also, you may want to include a note explaining the goodies and what country they represent.

If you read the description for crackers, you will see they include a popping device. Well, I’m not into that sort of thing, so the following directions for crackers is minus the popping mechanism. If that’s your thing, feel free to add it, and let me know how it went.

What you’ll need:

Cardboard tube (gift wrap tube cut into pieces, empty toilet paper tubes, or empty paper towel tubes cut down)


Gift wrap or tissue paper

Ribbon or yarn


Goodies for putting in the tubes

What you do:

Cut down larger tubes to about the size of a toilet paper tube. Make sure, if using toilet paper tubes, that all tissue paper is removed. Stuff one end with tissue paper and then fill with your goodies. Stuff tissue paper in the other end. Wrap in gift wrap or tissue paper and tape in the center of the tube. Twist the ends of the paper and secure with ribbon or yarn.

You can then place each cracker at a place setting, or have a basket filled with crackers near the entrance to your party for partygoers to choose.

The New Year’s around the world idea is courtesy of my good friend Marty Hayward, who did a similar theme for a New Year’s Eve party for pre-teens a couple years ago.

It was great fun and we taught the girls a bit about other countries’ celebrations.

Enjoy and have a safe and happy new year.

Joyce McCartney is not a craft expert. She is, however, interested in crafting of all types. She shares her experiences and those of area crafters. To reach her, call 461-8364 or e-mail her at Also, visit her blog at