Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

How to build a better snowman

Just follow these expert tips.

  • Vintage snowman photograph

  • Vintage snowman photograph

  • Vintage snowman photograph

  • Vintage snowman photograph

  • Vintage snowman photograph

  • Vintage snowman photograph

  • Vintage snowman photograph

  • Vintage snowman photograph

  • Bob Eckstein

  • New Yorker cartoon by Bob Eckstein

  • New Yorker cartoon by Bob Eckstein

  • New Yorker cartoon by Bob Eckstein

  • New Yorker cartoon by Bob Eckstein

  • New Yorker cartoon by Bob Eckstein

  • "The History of the Snowman" by Bob Eckstein

  • Snowman collection

Vintage snowman photograph



There's nothing wrong with a corncob pipe, button nose and two eyes made out of coal—but we know you urban creative types can do better. Native New Yorker Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman (Simon Spotlight, $18), says that snowman making was once serious art—even Michelangelo made one. Despite that impressive lineage, there’s no reason to feel intimidated: "Everyone gets a chance to be an artist when it snows," Eckstein says. "You have free art supplies right on your doorstep."

Prep your materials Before wrestling the kids into their hats, mittens and boots, test the snow: It can’t be too "dry," or it won’t roll into a ball. Snow needs to be a little moist in order to be packed.

Be free Eckstein hosts contests on historyofthesnowman.com; beginning each January, visitors may submit photos of their work. The most important criterion isn’t skill, but imagination. "My favorite snowmen are usually created by two kids who didn’t have much guidance," he says. "When no one helps them, children’s snowmen can turn out quite unique." For props, give your tots (supervised) free rein in your closet, junk drawer or under the bed—wherever you keep the unwanted stuff.

Use the home-court advantage While everyone else scrambles to stake out a spot in the park, stick close to home and think about a site-specific sculpture. Have your kids construct a snow lady on the sidewalk in front of your building, facing traffic with one raised arm. Bingo: She’s hailing a cab. Or they can fashion a snow dog near your local dog park; for a naughty spin, position him near a fire hydrant.

Blaze a trail If your family fancies a field trip, Eckstein suggests heading to Fort Tryon Park, near the Cloisters. Or approach your favorite restaurant and ask permission to scoop up the icy stuff from its sidewalk. Its owners may be glad to have the help, Eckstein says, as well as appreciate the adornment. He once crafted eight snowmen in front of an Indian restaurant in midtown, and waiters brought out food to use as decoration.

Channel Da Vinci Feeling ambitious? Help your kids construct a more lifelike face. Dampen the areas that you’d like to sculpt, and use a spoon, butter knife or spatula to do the detailed work of shaping a nose or mouth. "I’ve seen snowmen of mythical Greek figures," Eckstein says—though, he concedes, most kids would probably prefer to sculpt a Harry Potter snow wizard.

Get personal A snowman is just a snowman until you give it a name. "Even if all you do is shovel a pile of snow and stick a hat on top, it takes on a different dimension once you name it Uncle Bill," Eckstein says. Likewise, kiddos can craft icy versions of themselves, or even your whole family.




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* Great sledding hills
* Ice-skating rinks
* Things to Do

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