The Grinch Stole My Lights! (Christmas Decoration)




About: I make alot of project, but often I forget to "Instructable" them....

Twas a month before Christmas, and we just bought a house, So we decided to go with the minimalist decorations and do the whole "The Grinch stole my Christmas Lights" routine I've seen floating around social media. (sorry, that really didnt rhyme)

Since my wife and I had just recently purchased a house late 2015, we didnt really have very many decorations for Christmas. So, being the super cheapo I am, decided to go minimalist and make my own Grinch stealing literally all of our Christmas decorations.

Please give me a vote!

Materials used:

(1) sheet of 15/32" plywood (I bought 2 sheets just in case, but only ended up using 1) - approx: $14

Original Wood Glue - approx: $5

Paint (I mixed my own with random paint we got for free from our local county hazmat drop off center)

nails and screws - approx: $2

Tools used:

Jig Saw (with rough wood tooth saw) - approx: $25 at harbor freight tools

Air Nail gun - approx: $25 at harbor freight tools

Paintbrush(s) - approx: $8

Electric Disc Sander - approx: $25 - 30 at harbor freight tools (ya, I like cheap tools)

Dremel - approx: $70 at home depot

This was a pretty time consuming project due to the use of the Jig saw. There's lots of curves and detail, so it just takes more time. If you have a CNC router it would definitely speed up the process

I'm not going to give full detail on everything, as in many places I had to improvise to get the 3D stacking of the pieces to fit together correctly, but more on that later. Onto the project!

Step 1: Create Cutout

I'm a drafting technician for a small engineering firm. So I used a program called AutoCAD, to create the pieces digitally from a "Grinch" internet photo (see photo).

AutoCAD allows you to place the photo into model space, where I simply traced the outline using a combination of poly lines, fillets, and splines to create each piece.

I really wanted to create a more 3D look to the Grinch instead of a flat, 2-D painted on, Grinch cutout you can find all day for sale on etsy or ebay.

(AutoCAD file I made/used included!)

Step 2: Layers

Because I wanted that 3D look, it meant I had to create each piece that was going to be stacked so that I can accurately cut out each layer. (again, if I had a CNC router, I could have exported these pieces directly to the router for "printing")

I did not end up using my "behind" piece. I didnt like the look of the Grinch's backwards arm. I was going to cutout his rear foot/leg, but most people wont notice it's not there.

In AutoCAD it's not too difficult to create each layer as long as you know what your doing. you could achieve the same results using paint (although it would suck and take forever) or something like photoshop or the free version GIMP.

Step 3: Printing and Sizing

I knew about what size I wanted the end result to be (about 4 feet high). I used my work's Large format printer in order to get a majority of the main piece printed on one (ANSI D) size sheet (22x34 inches). I couldnt fit the main part on one sheet, so I simply fit it to 2 sheets and taped them together.

Once all the parts had been printed, I cut out the shapes so that I could trace them onto the plywood (just in case I wanted to re-create another Grinch or if I screwed up a piece badly). I must not have gotten a photo of the paper pieces, I'll try to add that later.

If you dont happen to have access a large format printer, you could try to print off the design using multiple letter size sheets of paper, or use FedEX or UPS to print of the design using their large format printer's for a small fee. Keep in mind, there is some trial and error in getting the design the correct size for printing.

Step 4: Trace Onto the Plywood and Cut Out!

I used a sharpie so I can see the lines, and also labeled each piece with "top" so I wouldnt try to put it together wrong. but it shouldnt be too hard to figure out if you dont.

Again, I decided to cutout the paper pieces and trace, but you could just glue the paper to the plywood to save on time and frustration of cutting out all those stupid curves!

--Safety Advisory --

Make sure to use appropriate safety precautions when working with power tools. Gloves, safety glasses, breathing protection, hearing protection......

With the Jigsaw, I cut the large board into smaller pieces to work with, then cutout each piece. it was much easier to work with smaller pieces than an entire 4' x 8' sheet. Be extra careful in thin spots, as you dont want them to break, however since there's alot of stacking involved you dont have to worry too much. Dont forget: MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE!

Be sure to keep any fine sawdust to use later. Keep sawdust away from any flames, as it's very flammable.

Now I did (2) two main body pieces - I did this to add some substance to the entire body. Could have possibly only done 1, but it was just a little too flimsy and didnt want it to break due to the elements. (after all, I'm spending alot of time on this thing)

Step 5: Glue, Sand, and Paint

Glue in steps. So the 2 body pieces get glued together. you could glue the front arm and the "arm fluff" at the same time as well. I just stacked and glued as I went. make sure you let the glue dry very well if you dont use any nails to hold it together.

Make sure you clamp all glued pieces, keeps them from moving and such. because were painting I wasnt too worried about it being super flush. but I used a nail gun to act like claps (I only have like 4 or 5 clamps). Due to not being able to accurately cut every detail (insert shameless "vote for me" comment here), I had to use the jig saw and dremel to match up the layers. Be careful doing this with a dremel, sometimes it doesnt like you cutting through multiple pieces.

Before sanding I mixed sawdust with some glue till it was like paste. then rubbed it into any holes, nail divits, edges that needed some filling, ect, so that you can sand it smooth later.

Once the paste has dried, get to sanding! I used a dremel for the small edges, and the face and fluff details (see paint photo) and a disc sander for the larger flat spots to smooth out the pasted holes and such. Sanding is messy, make sure you use breathing protection for all sanding!

For the Grinch's face details I looked to the original "How the grinch stole Christmas" movie (google image search). after using a sharpie to draw his face on, I then used the dremel at a 45 degree angle or so to etch the details into the plywood. It wasn't really necessary, but it helped for painting on the details later.

Once fully assembled and sanded, time for paint. I used white killz as a base coat and sealant, then some red spay paint for the shoes, coat, and hat. Mixed my own custom green using some green, white, and yellow paint. The yellow for his eyes are also a custom mix of yellow, black, and white. details are obviously black (I think it's a gloss black).

Step 6: Final Product

Once the paint dried, I simply got two metal sign posts and screwed them onto the back. I found a burlap type Christmas bag at Target for the Grinch to "hold" onto (doubles as the light bag for storage).

Purchased a small spot light at homedepot and SHAZAM! the Grinch stealing my Christmas lights, and I didnt have to decorate the entire house!

I plan on making the Grinches dog (Max) in the future to hang from some lights from the tree in my front yard, and maybe add little Lulu Who someday. But that's for another time. The Grinch will be going up again this year (2016), didnt have any problems with the weather in 2015.

This process will work for any decorations you want to do. Halloween, Christmas, Easter (although I have no idea what you'd make for Easter).

Thanks for checking out my project! Be sure to vote for me!

Post in the comments below with your project!



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15 Discussions


6 months ago

OK I have taken it and set up the CAD files so everything comes out of one 48" x 48" panel. My goal is to use the CNC router I have and cut this as a template. Then to use this to make more out of the corigated plastic panels (much lighter and more duraable) then use 3M sign vinyal to color everything. It should end up very light and long lasting. No photos yet as I just finished the CAD work. But I will post them.

OH I also made the top white furry part from the hat a separate template so it also can be more 3 dimmensional.

2 replies

Reply 5 months ago

Look under the I MADE IT area to see my photos and see how I made mine.


Reply 16 days ago

Awesome job RURC! looks good!
A CNC would definitely make this project smoother. In a way my design works great for CNC use, I just dont have access to one (YET!).
Using plastic is a good idea, and likely pretty light and easy to cut as well. I guess because I'm generally a woodworker I just didnt think of it! maybe next time....


2 years ago

Freaking Awesome. I love this idea. I saw something similar last year, but it was only one sheet of plywood cut out, paint, and rebar for rudolf movie characters. I really like the 3D effect and I see what you mean about CNC. I am looking into purchasing one myself.

Any way you could post the CAD drawings so I can print out this year... Not much time left???

I have not used AutoCAD since college, but I need to get back into it. If you have more time, you should either add more details on designing in AutoCAD section of this instructable or make another. I voted for you. Best of luck. I hope you are loving you new(ish) home!

Pleas post Drawings ASAP!

2 replies

Reply 2 years ago

I added the AutoCAD dwg's to the instructable, hope they help.

I guess I'm so used to working with autoCAD I didnt think about doing much of a writeup on the AutoCAD part, I'll have to see If I can make a video or something....Thanks for the advice!


2 years ago

This is fantastic! I think adding his dog would be a nice touch too.

2 replies

Reply 2 years ago


Ya, I think adding Max will help with the whole Grinch theme. Although I'm not sure what I could add after that. Maybe a gigantic sled on the roof? haha


Reply 2 years ago

Max! I couldn't remember his name. Maybe a fake chimney, with Max pulling a Christmas tree up and out of it. :)


2 years ago

Wow! Ginch is my favorite Christmas character. Well done. Thanks for sharing this idea!


2 years ago

Hey man i love your Grinch design. Is it possible to get a copy of the CAD drawings?

2 replies

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks! I added the AutoCAD file into the Instructable. You'll have to figure out the best way for you to print it yourself though.


Reply 2 years ago

Thanks a bunch. I'll print it out at work on the drafting printer.


2 years ago

That is a hell of a lot of work for "minimalist"! :) But now you will always have it! Love it!

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks! ya it was feeling rather redundant after a while, cutting out the same shape(s) at least once on paper then multiple times on the plywood......