Countdown Snowman

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Countdown Snowman
Ages all-ages

With his jaunty cap, stick arms, and cute-as-a-button smile, this merry snowman will tirelessly announce to all passersby exactly how many days remain until the holidays. Change the numbers every morning, and he's sure to tantalize your friends and neighbors with anticipation, becoming the centerpiece of your street. Sturdy enough for your yard or front porch, he'll work just as well in your entryway or by the fireplace.

What you'll need

  • Newspapers
  • Fence slat or other scrap board, 3 to 3 1/2 feet long
  • White and orange paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Triangular piece of wood
  • Hammer and nails
  • Branch or stick, about 2 feet long
  • String
  • House numbers with the holes at the top (available at hardware stores for about 70 cents each; to count to December 25th, for example, you'll need 12 numbers: a 0, two 1's, two 2's, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9)
  • Buttons
  • Wood glue
  • Plaster of Paris (about 8 pounds)
  • Round disposable container such as a cardboard paint bucket or foil casserole
  • Knee sock
  • Scarf
  • One sheet of felt
  • White glue
  • Small piece of scrap plywood
  • Permanent marker
  • 2 small screw eyes

How to make it

  1. Spread out some old newspapers outside or in a well-ventilated area. Paint one side of the fence slat white and set it down, paint side up, on the newspapers to dry. When the paint is dry, paint the other side and paint the triangular piece of wood orange (for the nose) and let both dry. (Tip: If placing outdoors, use all-weather paint or add a sealer.

  2. Countdown Snowman Step 2

    About one third of the way from the top, hammer two nails into the back of the slat, making sure they don't poke through the front. Place the branch (the arms) on the nails and secure with string as shown in photo at right.

  3. To position the numbers, lay two numbers side by side and mark the holes an inch or two below the arms on the front of the slat. To hang, partially hammer in two nails with heads small enough for the numbers to fit over.

  4. Glue on the wooden orange nose and button eyes and mouth. Let the glue dry.

  5. Mix the plaster of Paris according to the package directions in the disposable container. When it is partially set, stick the bottom of the snowman into the center and prop it up to hold it steady (2 by 4's laid across the top of the container flush against the slat work well). When the plaster is set (it will take about two hours), peel away the container.

  6. For the hat, cut the foot off an old kneesock, leaving a tube. Tie a string around one end of the tube to close it off. Pull the other end over the snowman's head and fold up a cuff.

  7. Tie an old scarf around the snowman's neck.

  8. To make a mitten, cut two mitten shapes from a piece of felt and glue them together around the edges, leaing an opening to slip over an end of the branch. Repeat for second mitten.

  9. Using a permanent marker or paint, write "Days Until Christmas" on a scrap piece of plywood. Insert the screw eyes in the top edge near the corners and tie a piece of string between them.

  10. Hang the numbers on the nails and the sign on the snowman's left arm.

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