How to Make New Year’s Eve Popper Wishes—and How Mine Came True!

Poppers for 2018

A close-up of the poppers for 2018. Traditionally, these are called “crackers.” I grew up in a small community in Connecticut, and we always called them “poppers,” so when I’m talking about them to others, I have to stop and check myself, because otherwise people won’t know what I’m talking about.

Every year, one of the big events at my New Year’s Eve party is the opening of the poppers, which comes with my special wish for each person to be granted in the new year—happiness, good fortune, fruition, peace, et cetera.

What’s interesting about this is that not only does my wish come true every year, others have told me theirs do, too. Whether it’s really a bit of magic—or simply just people “making it so” through positive thought—it’s still pretty amazing.

Here’s a run-down of how all of mine have manifested so far—and at the end, directions on how to make them for any party—Christmas, New Year’s, even birthday. It’s never the wrong time to give someone the gift of something good.

Original Popper Idea - 2016

2017: ?

This was the first year of this tradition. I searched everywhere through everything to figure out which wish I had. It’s probably in my 2017 datebook, which right now I can’t find—it’s probably where all the datebooks I’m missing are. What I did find when I was looking was a piece of note paper on which I’d scribbled the idea (and I can tell by my handwriting that I was drunk). What I do remember about that wish was that it came true—and that’s when I decided to just do it every year.

Wish for 2018

2018: Kindness

This was the year I spent in recovery from illness and pulling my life back together, getting myself in order. Friends were very kind, in general, in helping me get back on my feet, and the universe healed relationships that had been broken. Nathan surprised me with a vacation in Savannah for my birthday, and we had an extremely magical trip to Disney World that was just one kind surprise after another. It was a very happily emotional year that finished on an up note, and I was reminded of how lucky I was to have so many great people in my life.

Wish for 2019

2019: Productivity

In terms of writing, the past few years had been rough due to financial issues and illness. 2019 marked the year of my return to inspiration and writing. I worked most of the year on Tidings, in addition to writing and completing the stories “Omniscience,” “Threading the Needle,” “Arbor Day,” and “Last Christmas,” and “Eavesdropping.” I wrote first drafts of two others, “Temporary Inconveniences” and “February Thaw” (both of which wouldn’t be completed until 2021). For the first time in many years, I submitted stories again, and I also founded 34 Orchard.

Wish for 2020

2020: Joy

This was an interesting one, because the first bird I saw for the year was a goldfinch, which also represents joy. 2020, despite pandemic woes, was an incredibly happy year. I truly enjoyed the social slow down and the time to write. Toxic things, as well as things that no longer served me, began to fall away, and I made new friends and had more time to talk on phone or video with old ones with whom I’d fallen out of touch. Christmas and New Year’s Eve were both amazing.

Wish for 2021

2021: Grace

The definition of “grace” is “courteous goodwill,” and I certainly had a lot of that this year. So much generosity from so many friends—surprises and gifts and cards and letters just poured in, all year long. So many blessings—story ideas, offers of publication, great reviews. So many wonderful invitations to Zoom parties and events, so many wonderful trips. 2021 was a fantastic year for me—the goodwill flowed from day one to day 352 … and on New Year’s Eve I even got the cracker wish I’ve been hoping to get for a few years in a row!! I’ll reveal what I got this year in 2023, because I totally don’t want to jinx it!

How to Make Wish Crackers

Purchase/Make Crackers. First, you have to either buy or assemble the crackers. I just buy them ready-made, but if you’re crafty, you can buy the pieces in kits and put them together (it’s a little bit cheaper; it just costs time). Since they can only be found in brick and mortars between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the best place to order them is Amazon—and I do recommend ordering them at off-times of year, such as summer or just after the Holidays, because they’re cheaper. I bought some in September for $8/10. That same box right now (New Year’s Day) is going for $30. So time of purchase is critical.

To find them on Amazon, type in “Christmas party favor crackers” or “Holiday party crackers with toys” or something of that ilk (if you put in “Holiday party crackers” your search will just return lots of boxes of Ritz). You can also click on one, even if you don’t want it, and other suggestions will come up. And keep checking back if you don’t see the price point you want. I am usually able to get 12 or 10 of them for between $8 and $15 if I play my cards right. I wouldn’t go over $15—in my opinion, anything over that just isn’t worth it. The outsides might be a little nicer, but there is no difference in the quality of the product inside.

Make the tags. I get 65 lb cardstock at a craft store (like Michael’s), and I make the tags using Publisher’s pre-designed With Compliments Cards, but you can just as easily write them by hand. Just cut them into strips, and write “May YEAR Bring You” or “My Wish For Your For YEAR is”—or something akin to that—on each strip.

Here’s the list I pull from every year. I always make more than I need and add a few more each year (for next year’s I added ten more that aren’t on this list), so that the chances of a guest getting the same wish two years in a row is minimized.

Popper Tag List

Fold and seal the tags. Fold them up and tape them shut – the whole point of this is that you don’t know what wish you’re giving to whom. If you believe in “magic,” then just let chance or the universe choose what it thinks that person will need. It’s pretty crazy how it ends up working out. For example, I sent one to a friend of mine who has some medical issues she needs to take care of this year. She ended up receiving “Good Health.”

Punch a hole in the tag. With a hole punch, punch a hole for the ribbon.

Cut the ribbon, run it through the hole, and tie it on one end of the cracker.

“Pop” them just before or just after midnight. Your choice! It’s fun to see what little toy everyone got, and also—to see what wish you’ve given them for the new year.

My Popper Project Box

This is the tub where I store the poppers during the year. They’re ready to go months in advance.

One other tip: I try to get mine made and put away for next year by the spring. The Christmas season is too crazy for me to try to be doing craft projects. If you see the crackers at a great price, order more than you need, so you’ll always have extras and can make more for the following year any time you like. People are always asking me how I have the time to do so much for parties and gatherings and mailings and things. The answer is? I do them well in advance when I have downtime.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at

Posted on January 2, 2022, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Poppers are so fun. (I’ve heard them called both.) Thanks for the tips.:-) It IS rather cool how your popper wishes have come true!

  2. I am wishing you and your family that all your dreams come true and much Good Health and Happiness.

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