How can I reuse or recycle plastic toys from Christmas crackers?

Another one from the “Suggest An Item” page, Covert_Operations’78 asked:

How can I reuse or recycle those cheap, tiny plastic toys that come in Christmas crackers, snack packets and the like, please? These are mostly just brittle, non-recyclable plastic ‘shapes’, not like the playable and durable fast food premiums. I don’t buy them, but what do I do with the bunch I’ve acquired over the years at parties and such? Even if I try to reduce by not accepting them, they would have been purchased, and would be given out to others anyway, even if I decline. Thank you in advance!

As I explained last month, I don’t celebrate Christmas so it comes across as Bah-humbug when I say it, but ugh, I hate Christmas crackers – so much waste for a split second of cheer. I understand the “it’s hard to reduce” point – they’ve already been bought and few people want to kick up a fuss and refuse to pull one at a party – but so. much. waste. One idea for the future might be to ask if you can provide the crackers for the party – you can then make them out of recycled materials and/or at least know exactly how to recycle all the paper waste, and you can include small but actually useful items as opposed to the random useless stuff you get in commercial ones.

But what to do with the commercial stuff – those little plastic toys? I know a number of people who would use them to make fun costume jewellery or mobile phone charms. You could also use them in little terrariums. Other ideas?

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5 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle plastic toys from Christmas crackers?”

  1. Hazera Forth says:

    I have used them as little stocking fillers for kids in party bags by also adding a little home made confectionary and a thank you note. Most of them have been things that I can put onto an old keyring chain. Also, if you do make your own crackers, they can be used again and again as most people just leave them on the table!

    The other thing is if you have an old bag or belts and scarves, you can sew them on to be a bit like a brooch or badge and personalise things for kids.

    I collect loo rolls through the year to make crackers and ebay is a really good place to find very small and cheap little gifts that go in them instead. I use old wrapping paper or bits of filling from packaging that look like crepe paper to make the actual cracker. I also make the hats out of this stuff and I personalise them so they will fit the person who’s going to wear them. We also have loads of fun looking for jokes on the internet that are actually funny.

    I agree, buying them is a waste and very disappointing usually. The great thing about using all the recycled stuff is that you’ve had at least two or three uses out of them and then they can be recycled in your normal council collection.

  2. Bobbie says:

    Use them on gifts as a decoration. They probably could be hot glued on if they don’t have a way to attach them. (I have to imagine this as we don’t see crackers in US).

  3. caroline says:

    Children normally like them no matter what they are. If you don’t know any children then maybe you could give them to a teacher if you have a whole bag. They are the kind of thing that could be given out as motivational rewards or something.

    Failing that I have seen bags of mixed small toys for sale at my local charity shop. Perhaps you could ask if they wanted them?

  4. HuntingWabbits says:

    They really don’t have those here, and I’ve never seen the toys that come in those crackers. From your description, they sound a little like these cheap plastic soldiers we get here, the kind you can melt with a magnifying glass on a sunny day. I once, in a book, saw this really cool bowl that can be made when you fuse those together. It looked a lot cooler in the book, as she used different colored army men, but this is the same.
    *Note: ONLY use in a well-ventilated area!!

  5. Thanks, everyone! You’ve all been most helpful! I’m from Malaysia and it’s normally the expatriate community that buys crackers, but I tend to acquire small dinky toys in other ways too — from snack packets and the like. I like the charm and keyring ideas, as well as making my own crackers and party packs with unwanted toys. Perhaps I could also mix them into boxes of toys and school supplies for underprivileged children. At least the toys and trinkets get played with that way.

    I wish fast food restaurants and snack manufacturers would replace dinky plastic toys with something biodegradable (cardboard model kits, stickers, bookmarks, paper puzzles, mini comic books) or useful (pens, erasers, toothbrushes, magnifying glasses, magnets) instead!

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