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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Santa Paper Cup Puppet {+ Free Template}

If you're looking for a cute Santa craft to try this Christmas, make this paper cup Santa puppet. With just a few basic craft supplies your kids can make a Santa puppet that waves his arms up and down. Follow our instructions below to learn how to make an articulated Santa puppet using paper cups and our free printable Santa template.

Santa articulated paper cup puppets.

My daughter's been learning about different types of puppets at school this term and she came home and asked if we could make one that looks like Santa. I love a good crafty challenge, so I came up with a Santa template and we made these articulated Santa paper cup puppets.

What is an articulated puppet?

Articulated puppets are puppets that have individual moving sections like an opening mouth, flexible legs or arms, or a twisting head. They can be manipulated to mimic lifelike movements.

Articulated puppets can move using many different mechanisms such as split pins, folded paper springs, rods and strings. For our Santa puppet, the arms wave up and down and the head goes up and down, and can turn side to side, by moving the internal skewer. The skewer and pipe cleaner are joined together to make a single mechanism that moves multiple parts of the puppet.

Articulated puppets are a great way for children to build their fine motor skills as they control the movement of the puppet. They're also an interesting, hands-on way for them to learn about cause and effect as they work out how the mechanism functions to make the movements possible.


To make an articulated Santa puppet you will need:

supplies to make a santa puppet.

I recommend using washable paint or paint sticks to colour in the paper cup as that will give the best coverage, however you can always colour it in with crayons or pens if you don't have any paint. You can also substitute the red pipe cleaner for a black or white one.


To make your Santa puppet, you'll need the free printable Santa template that includes Santa's face and mittens in black and white. Click the download template button below to download the Santa template. This will take you directly to the PDF that can be downloaded to your device and printed.

Please note that this free printable Santa template is for personal or classroom use only and may not be shared electronically, uploaded, or sold on any platform. If you would like to share or feature this craft in a blog post please link back to this post directly.
santa puppet template.

download Santa template here.


Print out the Santa template and make sure you have enough copies for each child if doing the craft in a classroom.

1. Paint the paper cup red. We found it much easier to use a paint stick for this as it was less messy and cut down the drying time. Once you've finished painting, set aside the cup until it's dry.

child painting paper cup red.

2. Colour in the template pieces. Use pens, pencils or crayons to colour in Santa's face, hat and mittens. Don't worry if the children colour outside the lines as the pieces will be cut out.

3. Cut out Santa's head and mittens. Younger children may need help with this step.

Santa template cut out.

4. Use the pointy end of the skewer to poke arm holes in either side of the cup and a neck hole in the base. Once again this step may need to be completed by an adult, depending how old the children are.

5. Wrap the pipe cleaner around the skewer. Lay the pipe cleaner horizontally under the skewer and then twist each side over the skewer to secure it.

pipe cleaner threaded on skewer.

6. Carefully thread the skewer into the paper cup. Put the skewer inside the cup and carefully thread the pipe cleaners through the arm holes then the rest of the skewer up through the neck hole.

threading pipe cleaner into cup.

paper cup threaded.

7. Sticky tape Santa's head to the top of the skewer and a mitten to the end of each pipe cleaner arm.

finished Santa puppet.

8. Pull and push the skewer and watch Santa's arms wave up and down.

Santa puppets finished.

If you want to decorate the cup to turn it into Santa's suit, simply use a black pen to draw on some buttons and a belt. I left mine plain as the grey band on our cup kind of looked like a belt once it was painted red, but my daughter drew a belt onto hers.

paper cup Santa puppet for kids.

More Christmas Crafts

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