As an artist and homeowner, Donna enjoys creating unique decorative items and holiday ornaments to welcome all to her artistic abode.
This cute snowman and Santa figure are a fun project to make and display in your home for the holidays. Their bodies are repurposed salt and pepper shakers, which can also be filled with fake snow or confetti. Their heads, features, and costumes can be created from whatever materials you have, including buttons, wire, and scrap fabric. You'll have lots of holiday fun creating your very own little festive figures.
Can these Figures Be Made as Snow Globes?
My snowman and Santa figures are not snow globes, with water and falling snow inside. However, I do think these figures can be made as snow globes. To do this, you would need to:
- Remove your shaker top and find a plastic screw on top (without holes) the fits tightly on your shaker to contain the water. Try the plastic top from water bottles, plastic milk jugs, or salad dressings. I could not find a top the screwed correctly on to my shakers, but I would have made them into snow globes if I could.
- Be sure to use fake snow specifically made for use in snow globes. This snow does not float so that it will fall when your snow globe is shaken. Most fake snow will actually float unless made for snow globes.
If you do make your figures into snow globes, skip Step 2 below and build the head and neck of your figure directly on your screw on top.
Materials for Making a Snowman and Santa Figure from Recycled Salt and Pepper Shakers
I specifically wanted to make my Santa and snowman from materials I had on hand, but there are many materials that you can use to create and dress your figures. Here is a list of the materials I used:
- a salt and pepper shaker set - these do not need to be a matched set, if you want to use orphan shakers. Your shakers also do not need to be clear glass or plastic. However, if they are, you can fill them with fake snow, confetti, glitter, or small snowflakes.
- large beads or foam balls to use as heads - I used rounded drawer knobs that I already had. These had a flat bottom on them, but this is not essential.
- toilet paper roll or paper towel roll to make collar
- (optional) tissue paper to paper mache the heads for texture
- cotton balls or fiber fill for Santa's beard and hat
- white acrylic paint and a paint brush
- scrap fabric, buttons, wire, and other small items to dress and decorate your figures
- (optional) fake snow, glitter, or confetti to fill their bodies
- white craft glue and hot glue
- scissors, pencil, black marker, and ruler
How to Make a Snowman Figure from a Recycled Salt or Pepper Shaker
I'll give the directions for each of these figures separately, starting with the snowman.
1. Take the top off your salt or pepper shaker. Put the top to the side and wash and dry your shaker.
2. Using a toilet paper or paper towel roll (or some other bendable cardboard), cut a small piece that covers the neck of your salt shaker. Trim the length of your piece of cardboard and tape it together so that it forms a collar around the neck of your shaker (see photo above). You will attach your figure's head to this collar. This collar should fit snugly, but still be able to be removed from your shaker. Then put your shaker and cardboard collar to the side for now.
3. (Optional, but you'll probably want to do this if you are using a foam ball as a head to create a smoother surface) I put a few layers of paper mache on my wooden drawer knob to add some texture to my snowman's head. This is optional, but I wanted my figure to have a little folksy look to him. To do this, I adhered little strips of tissue paper to my head with a mixture of 1/2 white craft glue and 1/2 water.
4. Then I painted his head white with some acrylic paint.
5. (Optional) While my head dried, I took the salt shaker body and removed my cardboard collar. Using some black wire, I twisted it around the neck of my shaker and used the long ends to form arms and hands for my snowman. These do not need to be perfect. For a snowman, I think all of his features can be slightly askew to give him personality. I just used my fingers to form the hands, but needle-nose pliers will also work.
You could also use thicker wire to make simple stick arms, or leave off the arms completely.
6. Then I glued a few buttons down the front of my snowman's body. When working on the body parts of my figures, I found it was helpful to lay them in a old t-shirt or towel so the pieces wouldn't move or shift as I was gluing or painting.
7. Now it is time to add features to your snowman's face. I used a black Sharpie to draw on some square eyes to look like pieces of charcoal and small dots for the mouth. I added some rosy cheeks using a pink crayon. Then I cut off the tip of a orange crayon and glued it in the center of his face for his nose. I particularly like how his nose looks.
8. To make my snowman's hat, I piled up and glued together a group of buttons. I used a larger black button on the bottom for the brim, then a smaller white button for a contrasting band. Then I glued on more smaller black buttons to build the height of my hat.
Once the buttons were dry, I glued the hat on my snowman's head using hot glue.
9. (Optional) Next, while my pieces dried, I filled the body of my snowman with fake snow. This would be the time to add your water and snow if making a snow globe.
10. When all your pieces are dry, place the cardboard collar back on your figure and hot glue the head to the body.
11. Lastly, add a scarf to dress your snowman and cover your cardboard collar. I knit my scarf, but you could just cut a strip of fabric or felt to use as a scarf. I used a few dots of hot glue to hold the scarf ends crossed and in place.
How to Make a Santa Figure from a Recycled Salt or Pepper Shaker
1. Follow Steps 1 and 2 from above to prepare your shaker.
2. I used the natural finish on my drawer knob for my Santa's face, but your could also follow Step 3 and 4 above to paper mache and paint your head.
3. Next, cover your cardboard collar with a small piece of fabric (see photo above). I used an old red sock and glued it in place with white craft glue. Be sure to trim your material down so that it doesn't overhang your collar too much.
Then put your shaker and collar aside to dry.
4. Now, add your Santa beard and moustache using a cotton ball or fiber fill. I was able to push down the center of my cotton ball to form a fluffy cone shape. I glued this to my drawer knob using a liberal amount of white glue.
5. Then I tore off some smaller pieces of cotton and rolled them into tear drop shapes for the moustache. I glued this in place with white glue too. Let the beard and moustache dry completely.
6. To make a Santa hat, measure around the diameter of your Santa head. You probably know this by the size of your foam ball or bead.
7. Then cut a triangle out of a piece of red fabric, preferably the same fabric you used for your Santa's collar. Make sure the bottom measurement of your triangle is about 1/2 of an inch longer than the diameter of your Santa head. Curve the bottom edge of your triangle as in the photo above. It doesn't need to be perfect.
8. Turn your fabric inside out and sew up the back seam, forming a cone with the bottom left open. When done, turn your fabric back to its right side so that you have a little hat.
9. Glue some fiber fill or a strip of cotton along the bottom edge of your Santa hat. Form a small ball of cotton or fill to glue to the point of the hat. I put a little bit of glue on my fingers to shape my cotton into a small ball.
Put your finished hat to the side for now. Do not attach it to your Santa head yet.
10. Now add the features to your Santa's face. I used a blue Sharpie to make some simple eyes and a pink crayon to give Santa some rosy cheeks. You can add more features with paint of marker if you want.
11. Next, think about how you want to accessorize your Santa figure. You can leave his body bare, or add just add some buttons down his front. Or you could make a little belt from some black tape and add a buckle.
I chose to make some sleeves for him and have him holding a wreath that you could see through in the middle. You could also glue a small package in between his sleeves.
12. To make the sleeves, I measured roughly where I wanted his sleeves to begin and end on his body. Then using the same red material as Santa's collar and hat, I cut a piece of this fabric using my measurement for the length and making it about 2 inches high. I turned the fabric inside out and sewed up the long seam. After turning the fabric back to the right side, I sewed up the sleeve ends just to make them cleaner. Then I hot glued the sleeves in place on Santa's body (see photo below).
13. I made my wreath from polymer clay, but you can buy small Christmas items like wreaths, presents, and trees at most craft or hobby stores. I used hot glue to attach my wreath between the ends of Santa's sleeves.
14. Now, if you want, fill your Santa body with fake snow, confetti, or glitter. This would be the time to add water and snow if you are making a snow globe.
15. Next, with the cardboard collar around the neck of the shaker, glue Santa's head on his body using hot glue. Lastly, glue the hat on Santa's head using a few drops of hot glue.
I hope you enjoy making your little recycled snowman and Santa figures!
© 2016 Donna Herron
Donna Herron (author) from USA on December 23, 2019:
Hi Karen - So glad you like this Christmas craft. Thanks so much for adding your comment. I appreciate it!
Karen Smith on December 23, 2019:
I love these. They are adorable.. Thank you!!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on November 27, 2019:
Congratulations, Ginger, for finding the perfect shakers! I hope you love your finished snowmen! Happy Holidays to you!
Ginger Linkel on November 27, 2019:
As I searched for s/p shakers at vintage sales this summer, I picked up one set and said, "Yes! THESE are snowmen!" The seller looked at me with a frown and said, "Those are salt and pepper shakers." HA!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on August 15, 2019:
Great idea, Loli! There are a lot of fun materials you can use for these figures. So glad you found this tutorial inspiring!
Loli Fowler on August 15, 2019:
I just love your figures. I'll be making some this year. I wanted to let you know what i have used for a carrot nose on my snowmen in the past. I had a bag full of orange earplugs on hand for my husband's job and I decided to trim them down for a nose. You can make it just about any size that you need. It has worked great for me.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on February 17, 2018:
Hi Ida - My heads are about 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter, but you'll want to use a ball (foam or wood) that is the appropriate size for your shakers. I happened to have these balls on hand that worked well with my shakers. Good luck and I hope you make some figures that you love!
Ida Cribb on February 15, 2018:
These are great. You are very creative and these would make interesting gifts for vo-workers teachers and friends/family.
I have a question about the heads though...
What size (circumference) are the heads???
1/2”, 1”. I may need to buy some type of ball to make the head
It is difficult to tell in the pictures.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on January 18, 2018:
Hi Lynne - So glad you like this project and it has inspired you to make your own ornaments. I might suggest you look for plastic or lightweight shakers as glass shakers might be too heavy to hang on a tree. Thanks again for reading and commenting!
Lynne on January 17, 2018:
I would l love to try these as Christmas ornaments! I have made a different ornament every year for the last 20 years. I usually make about 30 of them each year and give them to my family, coworkers, my mom's care givers... It is sooo much fun. My 27 year old son critiques the ornaments each year. I think he would really love this one!
Thanks so much for sharing,
Donna Herron (author) from USA on November 25, 2017:
Hi Lynn - Thanks so much for your sweet comments. Good luck making your own pair and hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
Lynn Atanacio on November 25, 2017:
These are the cutest!! Now I have to scurry to find the salt&pepper shakers for next yrs. project! Thanks for sharing the great ideas for HOMEMADE GREATNESS!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on May 05, 2017:
Thanks! Yes, I was lucky to have these shakers. I think they're prefect for this project. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
FlourishAnyway from USA on May 04, 2017:
So ingenious! You have such a creative spirit! I especially like that it's recycled. It would be an adventure to find the materials at a Goodwill store if you didn't have shakers on hand.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on December 29, 2016:
Thanks so much! I appreciate your share and comments!
teaches12345 on December 28, 2016:
These are so adorable! I know of a friend who would simply love this idea for next winter season; I must share!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on December 17, 2016:
You're very welcome! Thank you for your comments and Happy Holidays to you!
Jeretta on December 16, 2016:
this is a very cute idea. Thank you for sharing.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on December 13, 2016:
Thanks, Heidi! My house is mainly a mess from all the crafting :) Thanks so much for your comments and support. Have a wonderful holiday season!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on December 13, 2016:
Thanks, Sally! Hope you have a wonderful and wool-y holiday season! Looking forward to a new year of hubs from you!
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on December 12, 2016:
Sooooo cute! I love using the stack of buttons for the top hat. Clever! Your house must be so delightfully decorated. Thanks for sharing your creativity and cheer with us. Happy Monday!
Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on December 12, 2016:
Very cute Donna! I bet lots of children would love having a part in these creations. Nicely done with some lovely images especially the first one which makes it perfect for sharing on Pinterest.
Hope you have a terrific Christmas Donna and all the best for the New Year.