As Kate so delicately alluded to earlier this week, I am somewhat of a holiday junkie. And Christmas is the holiday of all holidays for me. I decorated a week before Thanksgiving; yep, I’m one of those people. One of my most favorite holiday traditions as a child was our little family advent calendar and now that my kids are old enough to enjoy some fun and creative activities, I’ve filled up our little numbered stockings with slips of paper instead of candy. Well, slips of paper intermingled with candy. It’s December; we have to have candy. I let the kiddos pull day #1 a little early so I could blog about it! I tried to word everything creatively so they could have fun trying to figure it out.
(There have been lots of questions about my advent calendar, and what I put into it. You can read all about it here!)
Snow globes are magical, whimsical, and fun. And they’re super easy to make at home.
The first thing you need are jars, with nice snug lids. Check out your fridge; I grabbed an almost empty bottle of peperoncini peppers (that I have been using on Greek Salads and Greek Tacos, you’d think I was the pregnant one with the cravings I have for those. I am most definitely not.) I also had a bottle of capers that I finally finished by making one last batch of this Grown Up Dipping Sauce (another obsession, you guys need to all try that one), and a big jar from marinara that we used for dipping Pizza Rolls. Marinated artichoke heart jars work really great for these, as do little teeny tiny baby food jars. Really any size jar works; you just have to find things to fit inside of them.
You can be creative with the items that go inside your snow globe, it’s just important that they are made of materials that won’t break down in water. Think plastic, ceramic, etc. If you’re not sure, just try placing the items in a bowl of water for a few hours and see if they start doing weird things. Try thrift and craft stores for little winter-themed figurines. And if you don’t have any of those, try some
crap that belongs to your children that you want to throw away anyway fun stuff like this and try a silly snow globe.
Another really fun thing is to make your own little figurines with Sculpey Clay. You can buy all different colors at almost any craft store and it just bakes in the oven. A snowman would be super easy to make! I snipped all of my greenery off of artificial garlands I have around my house.
I decided to take it up a notch though, and put something extra special inside. I can’t tell you how much I love it when I have an idea in my head and it actually works like I thought it would! I just took a photo of each kiddo, printed it out on my home printer, cut it out, and ran it through my laminator (the laminator you all recommended to me on Facebook that I got and love. Muah!) If you don’t have a laminator, most copy stores have lamination services that don’t cost much. Make sure when you cut around your lamination, you leave a tiny border so it stays sealed up.
You will create your scene on the underside of the jar lid. I just use plain ol’ hot glue. You might want to take a piece of sand paper and rough up the inside of the jar lid so the glue adheres better. I didn’t do that with this batch and everything has stayed put just fine, but something you can try. If you have things with wide, flat bases, they’re easy to just glue right on. But if you have something like my little plastic pictures, or a tree sprig with a tiny twig at the bottom, I’ve found that it’s easier for me if I have something like little rocks (those blue things you see in the photos; they’re aquarium rocks from the pet store that I had from another project) to help keep things in place. It will make sense when you do it, but basically you can pile some glue down there, put your object in, and then mound some pebbles around it to adhere everything together as the glue dries. Check out my little snow bunnies:
It’s just important to remember to keep things away from the edges enough that you can still screw the lid onto the jar, so don’t fill the entire base with glue or rocks. When everything is dry turn it upside down and shake it a few times to make sure nothing falls off!
The next step is filling up your jar with water, almost to the very top and dumping in a bunch of glitter. I recommend adding a little more glitter than you think you need, especially if you have greenery because some of it will get stuck in there.
One thing you can do is add some glycerin, which makes the glitter float down a little slower than it does in plain water. (Or several readers have commented that baby oil accomplishes the same thing. You can also find snow globe “snow” on ebay at at some craft stores.) Glycerin can be found in the baking aisle of craft supply stores in small bottles. If you have some already, or find it easily, you can try that out. I did a side by side test and found that it didn’t make a huge difference, unless I added quite a bit. Probably at least 2-3 teaspoons per cup of water.
You know the Wilton gel colors we use in everything? Well if those get dried out, you can add glycerin to them to restore the consistency. You can also add it to homemade soap bubbles to make the bubbles stronger. I’ve heard you can also buy it at drug stores, often near the first aid supplies. Isn’t it kind of interesting when things can be found in both the cake decorating and first aid aisles?? Didn’t know that, but I read it on the internet, and if there’s one thing we all should know by now it is that everything on the internet is true. The internet is also where I discovered that if you have some benzoic acid laying around, you can make your own snow. Crap. I’m out of benzoic acid.
Anyhoo…just carefully squish your stuff in the jar as you put the lid on and tighten it. You can put hot glue on the edge of the jar if you’re want to seal it up. Or you could put some colored electrical tape around the edge of the jar. I left mine un-glued (and I strongly suggest you do, at least at first) in case I had to open them up to fix anything, or store them without water until next year, or change the water if it got cloudy, etc. I found out that one of my little red berries was painted and turned the entire snow globe pink so I was glad they weren’t glued shut and I could just snip it out and re-fill it. My hars haven’t leaked. I do flip them over sometimes and set them lid-side-up just in case. Either way it’s best to display them somewhere that won’t be damaged if a little water leaks out.
You can also paint your lids if you want to cover up the labels on them. I’m much too lazy for paint. (But not too lazy to laminate my children and put them in winter scenes inside of snow globes. It’s all about priorities, people.)
Now all that is left to do is watch your kids marvel in amazement and listen to them ask 50 times a day, “Mom, can I shake my snow globe?!”
My jars stay on my windowsill in front of my kitchen sink so they can stare at me, mocking, as I do dishes and they play in the snow.
Seriously- Best. Craft. Ever.
Bonus fun, make giant freaky eyeballs and giggle your heart out:
FYI- I wondered if the lamination would hold up in the water. I didn’t expect it to last forever, I was aiming for a few weeks at least, but it looks great; no water seeping in whatsoever. These have been in water for a couple weeks now and they look just like they did when I made them. Maybe they will last forever? (Edit: one commenter said her daughter made a snow globe with a laminated picture inside 12 years ago and it still looks great!)
Lastly- this has nothing to do with snow globes- but here’s a little video we did back when we shot our magazine cover shoot, for your viewing pleasure!