I used to make crackers when my kids were young. I think I used a cardboard cylinder about 4" long and wrapped a rectangle of crepe paper about 8" long around it, scrunching it in either side of the cardboard to give a cracker shape. Most craft shops sell the pull bit that gives the noise.
For presents I used keyrings, small bottle of perfume, small cosmetic items, puzzles - even socks, once, I think!
I've just published a hub about table decorations that are quick and easy to make: http://hubpages.com/hub/Christmas-Table-Arrangemen... I'm sure there's an easy way to give the link, but I haven't found it yet!