How to build the perfect snowman

If we get lucky and the weather delivers a big fall of snow, Katy Birchall has the best recipe for building a splendid snowman that will be the envy of your village.

Should we be fortunate enough this Christmas to wake up one morning to a tranquil landscape covered in a blanket of fresh white snow, let’s not dawdle — it’s time to get to work.

The perfect snowman won’t build itself and, if you’re going to beat Jerry-from-next-door’s pedestrian attempt, then you need to get out there sharpish before he encroaches on your snow under the guise of wishing you a ‘Merry Christmas’. Nice try, Jerry.

Before you get going, there’s a vital pre-match routine to follow. Preheat your body temperature with a cup of tea and a bacon roll. Once satisfactorily fuelled, gear up in appropriate waterproof outerwear that will withstand the tough conditions into which you’re about to venture — that beloved pair of wellies with the barely-noticeable hole at the toe has no place here.

After that, it’s time to venture out.


For the body

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  • Enough snow (fairly moist; avoid powdery texture)
  • Bottom ball should have a diameter of roughly 31½in
  • Middle ball, a diameter of 19½in
  • Top ball, a diameter of 12in

For the embellishments

A. Hat (gentleman’s choice of style here — the top hat is a traditional option, but a trilby or bowler is charming, or perhaps try a flat cap if your snowman is more of a loveable rogue. I must draw the line at a Panama — there’s a time and place)
B. 1 carrot (in this instance, size doesn’t matter)
C. 4 pebbles or small lumps of coal for the mouth
D. 2 Coat buttons for the eyes (pebbles, lumps of coal or walnuts are satisfactory substitutes)
E. 1 pipe
F. 1 scarf
G. 1 pair of gloves
H. 2 branches for the arms (preferably with twig-like fingers)
I. 4 small lumps of coal or pebbles for the buttons


Start by choosing the perfect positioning of your snowman — you’re looking for somewhere flat and in view of the street or lane, so that, on completion, your excellent craftsmanship won’t be missed by passers-by. Scoop up some snow and pack it into a snow-ball, rotating your hands and applying pressure to create a sphere — too much force too quickly will rupture the snowball; so, easy does it. Gradually add snow to the ball as you go, until it is large and heavy enough to set on the ground.

Begin rolling the snowball forward, changing direction every now and then to avoid creating an undesirable cylinder shape. Once the base section is your preferred size, bring your ball to a halt in the spot where you would like your snowman to stand. Repeat this process for the middle and top sections of your snowman’s body, making the balls smaller each time. Stacking the balls on top of each other might require an extra pair of hands, so do enlist the help of any teenagers lurking about the house.

It’s not a bad idea to flatten out the top of each sphere before placing another ball on top and packing some extra snow in between the sections if there’s still a bit of a wobble — unlike the rest of us this season, we don’t want Frosty losing his head.

When your creation is snow-body ready, it’s time to unleash your creative flair and accessorise your snowman. For the face, start with the nose, sticking the carrot in the middle of the top ball, before evenly spacing the two buttons, or their substitutes, above for the eyes. Place the four pebbles in an upturned curve for the mouth, being careful not to edge too close to the middle ball, and insert the pipe to one side of his smile — don’t miss this excellent chance to crack a joke about your snowman looking ‘smoking’. This may prompt eyerolls from the teenagers, but they’ll be laughing on the inside.

Insert the branches either side of the middle ball for the arms, ensuring that they’re firmly nestled in and sturdy enough to support their gloves. Line the four lumps of coal down the centre of your snowman’s body for his buttons and wrap the scarf around his neck, before adding the hat for the finishing touch.

Leaving your snowman to stand (and remain) cool, return to the warmth of the house, from where you can both admire your remarkable handiwork and feel your toes again — an experience best served with a well-earned mince pie and glass of sloe gin.