I have a running "to do" list that I've been crossing things off of furiously this week. As you can tell, much of the items on the list are Christmas-related, although there have been plenty of emails, projects for Sophie's school, and other family events to plan for. I'm thrilled to be crossing off one of the more time-consuming items on my list today - the Crackers we "pop" at (or shortly after) Christmas dinner. I think most people can remember a holiday meal where Crackers were laid out on the festively set table for everyone to open - it's something we've done in my mom's side of the family since at least when I was a small child and I can't ever remember a Christmas without them. The only problem with those crackers is the stuff you find inside them... usually cheap plastic toys made in China (sorry China), a slip of paper with a joke on it, and a paper crown that no one but the under-10 set is willing to wear. So all the excitement of the cracker is pretty much lost once you pop it, and I hate that. You must understand, I'm a bonafide holiday over-achiever and if something related to Christmas doesn't sit right with me it'll get under my skin until I fix it. The 'fix' to crappy prizes inside the crackers? Make them myself, and customize the contents to fit the audience. They're not hard to make really, as long as you plan ahead and start saving paper towel rolls a few months in advance... the paper strips that makes the "pop" sound when you pull them apart are available from craft stores, and the rest is up to your imagination. I make sure to put sugar-free candy inside the crackers going to diabetic members of our family, include trinkets and gifts that I think people will actually want (like lottery tickets or little hand-made items), and include quotes about the importance of family or the history of the holiday in place of those silly jokes. No paper crowns. They're a hit, and have become a special part of our family holiday tradition... the only challenge is that as our family grows, so does the scope of this project. This year's Christmas Cracker total is 17, all of which are labelled and packed up to be carried up north by Sandy and Lisa on Sunday. Another project off the list!