Saturday, December 17, 2011

Scandinavian Christmas: Day 5

Today I am quite excited to welcome another fantastic Swedish blogger, Karin.  I just discovered Karin's fun and creative craft blog, Nordic Craft, a couple months ago and was so pleased that she agreed to participate in this series!  Today she is sharing a fun tutorial for adults and kids alike (or adult kids too!) to spread a little Scandinavian Christmas cheer.

When Kathryn approached me about writing a guest post for her “Scandinavian Christmas” series, I immediately dropped what I was doing and started jotting down ideas for Christmas crafts and topics. It was harder than you’d think! After all, I’ve never thought much about “Scandinavian Christmas” –to me it’s just “Christmas”! After some thinking, I decided to share a tutorial for a Christmas craft that most Swedish children (and adults!) will be familiar with, and that you can find in most Swedish homes this time of year: Smällkarameller! These tree decorations are a (less noisy) version of the Christmas crackers so popular in the UK, but I have yet to spot them on a Christmas tree anywhere outside Scandinavia. Made of simple materials and easy to customize to your heart’s content, they can be made by anyone from 4 years and up. If your child can handle a pair of scissors, they can make these!

Image by BfloMom on Flickr

Once I decided what to make, there was another problem – getting decent photographs! As you can imagine, living this close to the Arctic Circle presents some unique challenges… In December, the sun doesn’t rise until 8 am here, and it starts getting dark around 2.30. Not a lot of natural light for my photography! I hope you’ll forgive the quality of the photos – and if anyone wants to contribute some frequent flyer miles for a trip to the Bahamas, drop me a line!

Tutorial: Smällkarameller / Christmas Crackers

What you’ll need:
-         An empty toilet paper roll
-         2 coordinating sheets of tissue paper (roughly 50x50 cm / 20x20 inches)
-         A piece of string or ribbon (about 45 cm / 18 inches)
-         Sharp Scissors
-         A couple of paper clips
-         Pencil
-         Clear tape

Start by laying your tissue paper sheets on the table, one on top of the other. The color you place at the bottom will be the one that shows on the outside of your ornament. Use the paper clips to keep the tissue paper from shifting around while you are working. Center your toilet roll at the bottom of the tissue paper and mark the sides with a pencil.

Start by folding one side of the tissue papers towards the center by about 1 cm (1/3 inch). Run your finger along the edge to make a sharp crease. Keep folding back and forth in an “accordion” manner. Don’t worry too much about making perfectly even folds – this will not be visible later on!  Accordion fold the paper until you get to the mark you made with your pencil.  Put a paper clip around your folded edge to keep the “accordion” together.

Fold the opposite side of the tissue paper in the same manner, until your paper looks like this:

Lay the toilet roll in the middle of the paper to make sure you have left enough of the paper unfolded. Now, get your scissors and start cutting the folded sides into “fringes” about ¼ inch (1/2 cm) wide. Be careful not to cut too far into the unfolded part of the tissue paper! You can make the fringes slightly wider or narrower according to your tastes, but this is the width I like best.

Once you have cut fringes in both ends of your tissue paper, place your toilet roll in the center and roll the paper around it, securing the end of the paper with a piece of tape. Next, separate the fringes from each other and “fluff” them out, being careful not to tear the tissue paper. Shake your ornament a little to fluff it up properly!

At this time, you can choose to place a little treat or sweet inside the cracker. Some families like to stick a little something inside, and then tear the ornaments apart when the tree is taken down after Christmas. Since I’m planning to reuse my ornament next year, I left it empty. After you fill the cracker (or if you decide not to), tie the ends of the string around each end of the cracker for hanging. If you’re using solid colored tissue paper, you can choose to decorate the front of your ornament with a sticker or some glitter. All done!!

It’s easy to vary these ornaments by using different colors of tissue paper, different sized cardboard rolls and embellishments. They can be used without strings to decorate the dinner table or hung in a window. Fair warning though: they can be a bit addictive to make!

 A big thank you again to Karin for sharing this fun project and participating in the Scandinavian Christmas series! 


  1. Smällkarameller! Brings back so many memories of crafting at home- at school- after school clubs! Fun!

  2. Wow!! It will be a fun to make!! thank you for sharing ti with us!