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How to build a snowman

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Do it yourself guide to building your own snowman in your yard

Do it yourself guide to building your own snowman in your yard

So you wanna build a snowman?  One of the great joys of living in an area that gets snow is building a snow man.  Kids love to do it and even adults who have never made one before just can’t resist making one at least once.  But it’s not quite as easy as you may think.  Here’s how to make one successfully.

The Right Snow

Believe it or not, there are different kinds of snow.  Some are good for one thing, some are good for others.  For instance, a very dry, powdery snow is great for skiing, but it’s not great for making a snowman, a snow fort, or having a snowball fight.

For anything where you need the snow to stick together, and this includes making a snow man, you’ll need a heavier, slightly wetter snow.  This means that once the temps drop below 20 or so, the snow is just too light and dry.  Once it gets like that, you can try and try all you like, and you won’t be able to make a snowman.

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To make sure the snow is right, first make a snowball.  If it’s easy to make a snowball and it doesn’t fall apart in your hands, then you’ve got the right kind of snow to make your snowman.  Now you need to make sure you have enough of it.  There should be at least 4 inches of snow on the ground, and the more, the better.

Find a clean spot where the snow isn’t full of leaves or twigs or any other kind of debris.

Start at the Bottom

You start out by making a good sized snowball.  Make it one that’s too big to hold comfortably in one hand.  Now place that snowball on the ground and simply start rolling it around in the snow.  It will begin picking up more snow and grow as you roll it around.  Pat it down every once in a while and make sure that the snow is fairly tightly packed.

You’ll want to roll it in all different directions to get it nice and round.  It you roll in a straight line you’ll get something more like a cylinder than a ball, so it’s important to change directions.  Also, if you’re doing this on a hill, start high and work your way down.

The larger the ball gets, the heavier it gets, so try to stay fairly close to where you want it to end up.  A good size for this first ball is two feet tall, so it will help to have a second person.  It’s pretty darned heavy by the time you’re done.

Once it’s in place, scoop out a small area (maybe six inches across and one or two inches deep in the center) on the top of the ball.


The Belly

Once you have the first section done, do the exact same thing with the second section.  This is the middle of the snowman.  This piece needs to be smaller than the first when you’re done, but it will still be too heavy for one person to comfortably lift, so again, be sure to have a second person helping.

Just as with the first ball, this one needs to be patted down every once in a while to make sure it’s solid.  Once you have it at a pretty good size, maybe 14 to 18 inches across, it’s time to lift it up onto the first ball.  Even though it’s a good deal smaller than the first one, it’s still heavy, so be careful.

Gently place the second ball in the scooped out indentation you made on the first ball.  The scooped out area will help this ball stay in place.  I stressed the word gently because it would be a shame to get this far and then crack one of the two balls at this stage.

Scoop out an area at the top of this ball as you did with the other one, but make it much smaller, being only around 4 inches across and no more than one inch deep.

The Head

This is the last ball.  A snowman is typically made of three balls, so try to stick with this traditional formula.  This ball is much smaller than the other two.  Once you’ve made the initial snowball, you don’t need to make it too much larger.  Maybe 8 inches across.

Place this snowball on top of the other ones in the center and you’ll have your basic structure complete.

The Appendages

Okay, you’ve made it this far, now to place the finishing touches without cracking any of the balls.  First, you need to add arms.  This is done with small branches from a tree.  It’s best to choose thin, light weight branches around two feet long with “fingers” branching out at the end.

Don’t just shove the arms into the sides or you will almost certainly crack the middle ball.  You can either literally use a drill with a drill bit just a bit smaller in diameter than the arms for a pilot hole, or you can use a circular drilling motion with the arms themselves to work them into the middle ball.

The arms should be facing either up or down rather than sticking straight out, but if one will be “holding” a broom, then that one can stick straight out.  If you do this, the broom needs to be several inches into the snow or ground or even the lightest wind will knock it over and take an arm with it.

You can use large buttons for the buttons on the middle section of the snowman, and wrap a scarf around his shoulders.  The scarf can even be used to partially hold the arms into the body to help keep them from falling out.

For the face, you can use buttons or stones for the eyes.  Coal is traditional, but not everyone has easy access to chunks of coal.  Smaller buttons or stones can be arranged lower down for a smile, and some people like to have a corn cob pipe sticking out of the side of the mouth or a long bit of straw.

For a nose, a carrot is traditional and adds just the right touch for your snowman.  Again, be sure to kind of “drill” it into place rather than just shoving it in.

So now you have your first snowman.  That wasn’t so bad, was it?


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