We Try It First: DIY Snow globes


In which Niree tries her hand at monthly projects from Scribd's vast selection of tomes on craft and documents the process, be they messy, embarrassing, or triumphant. In this installment: A homemade snow globe from Fun Christmas Crafts to Make & Bake.

A long time ago, in an ersatz suburban cottage far, far away, I spent a good portion of my days crafting. I’d go H.A.M. in the fabric and craft stores, then disappear into my room, emerging hours later with an array of glued, knit, painted, jingling goods for everyone and everything, from my pet rabbit to my friends (both doll and human). This meant if you were even tangentially in my life, I was going to burden you with some aesthetically questionable homemade gift for the holidays.

Fast forward to now, where “Happy Holidays! <santa emoji> and/or <star emoji>” text messages have replaced even the simple act of sending greeting cards. So I decided: this year, I’m doing it. I’m going to hole up, get crafty, and send stuff to everyone I know. It’ll be delightful (and very ambitious).

Skimming through craft books, I came across Fun Christmas Crafts to Make & Bake. In it, I found a cute snow globe, with instructions so simpleonly four steps accompanied by images of a grinning childI thought I’d make a few dozen to hand out.

The Materials

empty clean jam jars with lids silver paint paintbrush strong waterproof glue plastic christmas decorations distilled water glycerine clear washing liquid glitter

snowglobe 1: materials image

I had the distilled water portion of the project covered (thanks refrigerator) but I spent way, way too much time gathering the rest of these things. Glycerine and silicone waterproof sealant I found at Walgreens. Glitter I got from a craft store on the other side of town, where I also opted for silver spray paint that I didn’t even use due to the Pineapple Express.

The jars and plastic decorations were the hardest to find. The already-empty jars I found all had imprinted writing and designs. This was not ideal. The ornaments I found were all made of wood, burlap, or delicate metal. I searched everywhere from hardware stores to pet stores with no luck. Finally, I found a Santa ornament tiny enough to fit in the small jar I’d found. Despite the tchotchke store owner’s warning that the paint would drop and the material would shatter, I went ahead and purchased it because I was so tired of looking.

So, three days after I decided to do the project, I finally had all the things gathered. I was ready to start.

The Steps

snowglobe 2: glue image

Step 1: Glue the Santa to the cap. OK, that’s easy enough. I let it dry for about half an hour, to the point where I could lift the Santa by his tippy top and the lid would come up with him.

snowglobe 3: glycerine image snowglobe 4: glitter image

Step 2: Fill jar to brim with distilled water. I repeat, to brim. “OK…” I said. “I don’t think this is a great idea but I’m going to do it anyway.” Add two teaspoons of glycerine and as much glitter as your shimmering heart desires.

snowglobe 5: santa submerged snowglobe 6: glitter pool

Step 3: Submerge Santa. I placed the jar in a big bowl because I predicted correctly that as soon as I dunked Santa, there would be a sudden glittery waterfall. As a result, one of my bowls is now much sparklier than the rest.

santa 7: final result

Step 4: Screw lid shut. The instructions make it optional to glue the lid with waterproof sealant. I would highly advise following this step because as soon as I picked up the unglued version and gave it a shake, it started spritzing glitter-water everywhere. Also, due to misjudging how much washing up liquid was needed, the glitter had globbed and was stuck at the top of the globe.

The Final Tally

5 + 1 hours: Five hours gathering materials; one hour actual crafting.

?: Total cost. Between buying jars of jam and then finding new jars and then purchasing a few different types of ornaments not knowing which would fit in which jars, along with the unused spray paint, somewhere upwards of $50. A more efficient crafter could probably get away with around $20. And obviously, you'll have plenty of glitter, glycerine, and silicone left over for additional globes.

1: Leaky  but festive snow globe and several photos of myself standing around brooding while waiting for the glue to dry.

The Verdict

This was a really cute idea that’s actually super simple to execute if you’ve got all the right things. My glitter was clumpy, my lid leaky, my Santa dropping paint and on the verge of shattering. Not exactly charming. But almost.

Some advice for those of you planning on doing this at home: empty out a jar you already have. A pickle jar, a jam jar, any jar. Use some rubbing alcohol to scrape off the label and run it through the dishwasher. For the ornaments, if you have the time, scour the interwebs for plastic. You want these gifts to last, not end up in the trash.

Parting Words

For a truly sweet and sentimental surprise (like the one I was planning on) try swapping out standard Christmas decorations/ornaments for more personal plastic toys tailored to your recipients. Say, a Boston Terrier, a dinosaur, an SF Giants baseball, or a mini Katniss Everdeen. Every time they give that thing a shake, they’ll think of you. In theory at least.

Niree is an Assistant Curator at Scribd. She’s also the founder and editorial director of Connu, a former editor at Angel City Press and the Southern California Review. Her work has appeared in Santa Barbara Magazine, Defy Magazine, Latin Trends, Minzio, and the Armenian Redwood Project. She's currently documenting her life on her blog, NireeSays


Photographs: Brian Mayer

Niree N.Crafts, homemade, snow globes