I have always had a nostalgic fascination with snow globes, and my kids have recently become similarly enamored (I think it happened when my husband brought back a miniature one from a business trip to NYC with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building in it. Stay tuned for our own crazy combos in a minute…) So when I saw an image on Pinterest of some beautiful globes, I knew we had to add it to our holiday activity list.
Now, I will be honest – snow globes rank rather low on the No Mess scale (there is glitter AND water involved, after all.) And ours did not turn out quite as lovely as those you see at the mall or Martha Stewart. But the kids and I had a grand time designing them, and they really were a great activity for a dreary December Sunday. I think we’ve got a new tradition on our hands.
The Pinterest image didn’t have a source, so our approach is based on a hodge-podge of sources I found online / YouTube, plus a little trial & error. Learn from my mistakes!
DIY Snow Globe Materials
- Glass jars – *important*: before you start, test and make sure the lids screw on securely & don’t leak (I didn’t do this, and discovered after all was said & done that my lids were a little leaky. Ugh.) You’ll see a Mason jar in the picture below, but we decided that wasn’t the best because of the pattern on the side; smoother seemed better to us.
- Small plastic figurines – I picked up a couple of the Toob containers at Michael’s (one of buildings and one of trees), and found some festive figurines on sale at Rite Aid. You can totally go with stuff you have around the house, if like us, you have little fairies, pirates, animals, etc from various sets / birthday parties, etc.
- Glitter – yep, you do need glitter. I saw online you could use crushed white eggshells instead, but that seemed like more trouble than it’s worth. We used white & silver glitter; you could use whatever you like.
- Glycerin or baby oil – (available at any drug store); this adds some viscosity to the water so the glitter floats longer. But we tested one jar without it, and it honestly didn’t seem to make a huge amount of difference.
- Hot glue or super glue – to glue the figurines to the jar lid (this is obviously a grown-up step.) Also, if you want to make sure the lids stay ON those jars of water & glitter despite any attempts by a curious kiddo to open them, you can glue them on at the end.
Next, have your kids select the figures they want to use and arrange them on the lids. We thought this part was super fun… it’s like creating your own tiny mini-city.
Two things to keep in mind before you glue the figures down: 1) make sure they’re not taller than your jar (we had to be sure to match the Empire State to the tall jar) and 2) be sure to leave enough space at the edges of the lid so you can screw them back onto the jar.
Once you all feel good about the arrangement of your scene, you can super glue the figurines to the lid. (I just love the assemblages: Empire State Building+Eiffel Tower+Leaning Tower of Pisa, Santa+Taj Majal+Arc de Triomphe and Big Ben+Statue of Liberty!)
You’ll want to let them dry for long enough to be sure the glue will hold. In the meantime, you can add water to the jars — fill them not quite to the threads to start (the figurines will take up space when you put them in.)
Then add the glycerin — about a half-teaspoon, and the glitter — about a teaspoon. You’ll see we added quite a bit more than that — some of us MAY have gotten carried away when given free rein on the glitter.
Then carefully screw the lid back onto the jar. You might want to do this over the sink in case there’s too much water in the jar when you put the figurine in. You can also check to see if you need to add a bit more water.
Shake them up and watch it snow!
Note: I discovered my jar with Santa in it had a leaky fit after it was all complete. To salvage it a bit, I rimmed the lid with hot glue. It didn’t completely solve the problem, but made us able to shake the jar a bit and enjoy it. But these are creations that stay on the kitchen windowsill, just to be on the safe side! And I think they look lovely next to our Mod-podge Magazine Christmas Trees!