Introduction: Life-Size Paper Nutcracker

After seeing a performance at school, watching one of the Dolan twins receive one of these things for Christmas on YouTube and pretty much loving this musical for my whole life, I haven’t and I mean HAVEN’T stopped blabbering about how much I want a giant nutcracker! I mean seriously, it’s the first thing I think about when I wake up, “ah what a beautiful day, but it’d be even more beautiful with a life size nutcracker.” And because of this, I decided to make just that... A life size nutcracker!

I of course needed some inspiration on how I'd like to make this, and fortunately got some amazing ideas from Animplates' Giant Nutcracker, which you should definitely check out here:

With this idea in mind, I had to set a few goals for how I’ll make it:

  1. As inexpensive as possible (I'm a teenager so don't have a lot of money!)
  2. As quick as possible (just to stop nagging my family about it haha)
  3. As beautiful as possible

This nutcracker was made with the most inexpensive items I could possibly find, ranging from local dollar stores to recyclable items I found in my home. I incorporated some paper mache techniques in it, making it a pretty fun process. So sit back, relax and let’s start this very Christmassy and budget friendly instructable.

*Side note, I’m only human and in the project I’ve made 2 minor mistakes in the first couple steps but easily fixed them! As long as you don’t do what I did, you’d save just a few minutes of time!*

Step 1: Materials

So of course, the first thing you need to start the project are your materials. Arranged by body part to make this step a lot easier, you will need:


  • 2 Construction papers (your choice of colour as these are the pants, I got black ones) - Dollar store
  • 2 Cardboard Wrapping paper sticks - Walmart (Which were recycled from previous wrapping paper I’ve already used out)


  • 2 flower pots - Dollar store
  • Recyclable fabric/clothing - (originally I tried to design the torso with paper but I made a little mistake so instead I replaced paper for an old red dress I had from Halloween)
  • Cardboard - dollar store (or recyclable like mine)


  • 2 Construction Papers (your choice of color as these are the sleeves, I got red ones) - Dollar store


  • 2 Styrofoam balls - Dollar store


  • Any pair of shoes you have (I used some rain boots)


  • Flower pot (your choice of color, I got black) - Dollar store


  • 24 inch balloon - Party City
  • White hair (this is optional)


  • Old newspaper - Found some at bus station
  • White glue and Water (paper mache) - Dollar store
  • Paint (brown and white) - Dollar store
  • Styrofoam ball (nose) - Dollar store
  • White construction paper (Mustache) - Dollar store

Overall Design:

  • Paint (your choice of color: white, brown, gold) - Dollar store
  • Scotch tape - Walmart
  • Belt - From H&M but had them in my closet anyway
  • White bristle board paper - Dollar store
  • White synthetic hair (this is optional if you'd like your nutcracker to have hair) - BCI Beauty (But you can get this at any beauty supply store)


  • Scissors - Dollar store
  • Pencil or pen - Dollar store
  • Glue gun + glue sticks (of course) - Dollar store
  • White Bristle board - Dollar store
  • Ruler - Dollar store
  • Paper clips (just to hold some things into place) - Dollar store
  • Rubber bands (just to hold some things into place) - Dollar store
  • Knife (or something sharp) - Your kitchen
  • Printer + printing paper
  • White glue - Dollar store
  • Glue stick - Dollar store

Last but not least:

  • Patience

Now you can always scale down or scale up your items depending on how big or small you’d like it or change the designs and colors. With the flower pots and Styrofoam, measuring might not be needed because you can always pick the sizes you want by eye.

Below are the templates for the eyebrows, eyes, mouth and mustache:

Step 2: Building the Torso

As the torso is the central part of the body, building it first made for easier ideas of how the structure may look.

Need: 2 flower pots, cardboard, fabric/old clothing piece, pencil/pen, scissors

  1. Trace a circle on cardboard using the opening of the flower pot to measure the torso’s base that later connects to the legs.
  2. Cut that out, and glue the base onto one of the pot's openings with a hot glue gun
  3. Once dried, connect the pots together by gluing them at the bottom onto each other. Getting the clothes on the torso

Here came 1/2 of my mistakes! I thought I would be able to fold a piece of construction paper properly around the torso if I measured the ends of the pots and cut at that point. I didn’t consider the fact that the pots go outward meaning cutting the paper straight wouldn’t properly cover them.

To fix this, instead of using paper, I used an old Halloween costume I had and folded it around, cutting off excess pieces until it properly covered the pots. I held the material into place with a paper clip to glue down one side and then glued the other side and continued cutting off excess pieces until everything was on place.

*If you’re able to find flower pots of your desired color, this step isn’t necessary!*

Now the torso is done!

Step 3: Limbs! Limbs! Limbs!

After the torso, it only makes sense to get the arms and legs together. Luckily, these are already the desired colour, so we can save some time on covering it up with material.

Need: 2 construction papers for arms, 2 Construction papers for legs, glue gun, pencil, ruler

Legs - Rolling it to size

  1. Roll the construction paper to an appropriate size and hold it with a rubber band. I measured 9cm on the construction paper and started folding there.
  2. Afterwards, just glue down one side and there you have your legs.

Regardless, the legs could be any size you desire so you could just do this by eye.


  1. Do the same thing you did with the legs instead make sure the size you rolled is a correct size to fit your styrofoam balls (hands) onto the ends!!
  2. Once at the correct size, start gluing the paper together.

I made the 2nd of 2 mistakes on my project with the arms. I totally forgot that I was using styrofoam balls for hands and measured the arms to be a bit too big for the styrofoam to fit.

To fix this, I made a circle within a circle that fits onto the opening of the arms and that’s where I will be putting the styrofoam balls. *This part is not necessary as long as you make sure you roll the paper to fit with the styrofoam balls!*

Step 4: Putting the Torso, Legs and Arms Together

Need: 2 wrapping paper cardboard sticks, glue gun, paper clips, and the nutcracker's arms, legs and torso


  1. Cut the cardboard wrapping paper sticks to the same length of the legs. Once done that, glue it onto the base of the torso closer towards the ends. After it’s glued, put the legs onto the sticks while gluing it to the base and gluing it to the sticks
  2. Stick your nutcracker into the shoes you’ve picked, to give it some support.


  1. To attach the arms, use a paper clip to hold the arms onto the torso. From there just glue them down at at the edges.
  2. To cover the opening at the top of the arms, just trace a circle of the same size and use your glue gun to stick it down

Now the limbs and body are together!

Step 5: Head and Nose (Paper Mache!)

Need: 24 inch balloon, bowl, 3 styrofoam balls, newspaper, glue water, brown paint, white paint, paintbrush, knife (or something sharp to cut with)

I started off by blowing the balloon by eye to a size that looks like it would work well with the size of the body, so just blow it to your desired size.

Here’s where it gets a bit messy so have a work with paper under the balloon to save time on cleaning up!

Paper mache

  1. In an bowl put 3 parts water to 4 parts craft glue. I used 4oz of water and 6oz of glue and that was just enough.
  2. Mix the mixture together with a paint brush
  3. Rip strips of newspaper (and rip some a long the way if you end up needing more, which I did)
  4. Start dipping the strips into the bowl and pasting them onto the balloon until it is fully covered. Set it aside on top of a bowl to dry! (I let it dry for about 24 hours)


  1. Cut a styrofoam ball in half
  2. Trace a triangular shape on the front of the cut ball
  3. Cut it out, and there you have your nose


Because the head, nose and hands will have the same skin colour, I decided to paint them all at the same time. For this I just:

  1. Mix brown paint with white paint until desired skin colour
  2. Start painting the paper-mached ballon and the 2 styrofoam balls + the cut styroafoam ball (nose)

Step 6: Face

Need: Template facial features, printer + printing paper, scissors, pencil, white bristle board, hot glue gun, glue stick, nutcracker nose


  1. Using the hot glue gun, stick the nose onto the middle of the nutcracker's face (there should be a little space at the bottom as the Styrofoam is naturally uneven - this would leave space for the mustache to fit in)

Eyes, Eyebrows and Mouth

  1. Print the eyes, eyebrows and mouth in the template provided and cut them out
  2. Glue the the features onto the face of the nutcracker using a glue stick


  1. Print the mustache in the template provided and cut it out
  2. Trace it onto white construction paper and cut that out (This isn't necessary but I just prefer for the mustache to be a bit more firm)
  3. Use your glue gun to stick the mustache under the space of the nose

Now your face is done!

Step 7: Design: Putting Everything Together

Need: Scotch tape, white construction paper, pencil, hot glue gun, gold paint, paintbrush, flower pot, white hair material,nutcracker head, nutcracker hands

Here, we will finally finish the overall design of the nutcracker!

Decorating the Shirt:

  1. Belt: I added the belt to the torso just to add a nice design. If using a belt from your closet, it's probably to big to fit around the nutcracker's body. To fix this, I just wrapped the belt around the torso and poked a hole with the knife to mark where a new belt hole needs to be. I then took the belt and laid it on a hard surface (e.g a cutting board) with the knife poked in the proper spot and twisted the belt until a hole formed in it.
  2. Make two strips of your scotch tape and let it hang on a table
  3. Use paint (I used gold) to color your tape, and let the two pieces dry
  4. For the buttons: trace 4 circles using something a small object with a circular base (I used the paint bottle: killing two birds with one stone haha) and cut the 4 circles out
  5. Paint them the same color as your tape strips (mine were gold) and let them dry
  6. Once everything has dried, stick the strips one above the other onto the shirt of the nutcracker
  7. Glue the circles at the ends of the tape strips using a glue gun


  1. Using the hot glue gun, glue both of the hands onto the ends of the arms

Head and Hair

  1. Put the head on top of the torso's opening
  2. Get the white hair material and stick it on the top of the head with a glue gun
  3. Put the flower pot (which will be the hat) on top of the head
  4. Optional: You could glue these together if you please, but I chose not to so I could take them apart if I wanted to

Step 8: Finished Product!

And finally, the nutcracker is complete! Thank you for checking this out, I hope it helped. Once again, as this is an art piece, you don't have to do things the exact way I did it, but you can always change a few steps to make it how you like it! Just like how Animaplates' Giant Nutcracker was the base of my inspiration, I hope this is the base for your inspiration as well, enjoy!

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