It’s that time of the year when kids everywhere are thinking about Santa Claus. There’s a mad rush to get on the nice list and send letters to the North Pole. Also, all thoughts are on one place in particular; where all the magic happens: his workshop. One way to make their dreams come true is to style your Christmas tree with Santa’s workshop decorations.  

Portland pine tree with Santa's workshop decorations by oh yay studio
Image and Christmas tree décor by Emily Steffen of oh yay studio

We asked our friend, Emily Steffen of oh yay studio, to give you something even better: two Santa’s workshop decorations that double as toys for the kiddos. Want to transform your home into Jolly Saint Nick’s toymaking studio? Keep reading for her step-by-step video and more decorating ideas.

Pick an Artificial Christmas Tree to Decorate

When you think of Santa Claus, you probably remember the Christmas of your childhood. Of course, many of the fondest memories include decorating a traditional green tree and opening presents beneath it. If you’re looking for Santa’s workshop decorating ideas, we suggest starting with a centerpiece in this classic color. One with flocking would add a nice touch.

portland pine tree from Treetopia
Portland Pine Christmas Tree
Balsam Spruce green Christmas tree from Treetopia
Balsam Spruce Christmas Tree
Flocked Christmas tree from Treetopia
Frosty Flocked Christmas Tree
Alexander Fir green Christmas tree from Treetopia
Alexander Fir Christmas Tree

However, that’s not to say that a colorful one won’t do the trick as well. It all depends on your decorating style and personality.

Artificial red Christmas tree from Treetopia
Red Red Pine Christmas Tree
gold artificial Christmas tree
Gold Rush Christmas Tree
Tuxedo Black™ Christmas Tree
white Christmas tree
Treetopia Essentials – All Snowed in White Tree​

One option is to go for any other hue in the Christmas color palette: red or gold. Another is to choose a centerpiece in neutral colors like white or black so your decorations really pop.

Make Santa’s Workshop Decorations

Make decorations from scratch based on your favorite Christmas personality or symbol. It could be your favorite movie characters or more classic icons like candy canes, snowmen, or angels, to name a few. Or cut out the guesswork and watch Emily Steffen’s video below to make two adorable Santa’s workshop-themed ornaments that kids can play with, too.  

Aren’t Emily’s Santa’s workshop decorations adorable? She hung them on one of Treetopia’s realistic artificial green Christmas trees, the Portland Pine.

Here’s everything you need to make them on your own.

1. Nutcracker Puppet Santa’s Workshop Decoration

Photo credit: Emily Steffen of oh yay studio


  • Nutcracker Puppet pattern
  • Paper scissors
  • String
  • Dowels, twigs, or skewers
  • Hole punch
  • Office brads
  • Paint and brushes or markers or crayons

Step 1: Download and print out the nutcracker puppet pattern.

Step 2: Using your paint and brushes, begin to decorate and embellish your nutcracker puppet.

Step 3: After the paint has dried, use a Sharpie marker to add the eyes, nose, and any other details you like.

Step 4: Cut out your pieces with paper scissors and then lay out the parts where they would be on the nutcracker.

Step 5: Begin with the legs and lay each on top of the lower part of the body. Punch a hole through both layers of paper and then use a brad to fasten each leg to the body. If the backs of the brads are too long, simply clip them with a sharp scissors and discard the trimmings. Repeat this hole punching process with both the legs and arms of the puppet until it’s assembled.

Step 6: Use glue to attach the beard on your nutcracker.

Step 7: With your hole punch, punch one hole in each hand of the nutcracker. Cut two pieces of string to your desired length and then string them through the punched holes in the hands.

Step 8: Tie the string onto your dowels to create the puppet feature of the nutcracker. Wiggle each leg and arm around to be sure the puppet has full mobility.

The nutcracker ornament has moveable limbs just like an actual puppet! The dowels also make it easy to hang this fun Santa’s workshop decoration on your tree.

2. Elf and Sleigh Plushie Santa’s Workshop Decoration

Photo credit: Emily Steffen of oh yay studio


  • Elf and Sleigh Plushie Pattern
  • Felt scraps
  • Sharp fabric scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Needle and thread
  • Optional embellishments to personalize the elf as a toy for a kiddo

Step 1: To cut out the pattern and pieces, use straight sewing pins to attach each pattern piece to the felt. Then, cut out according to the pattern instructions.

Step 2: Lay out your elf plushie and stack the hair under the hat and vest on top of the elf body. Smooth out any edges with your scissors as you lay it all together. Do the same for the sleigh pieces.

Step 3: Using a whip stitch, begin stitching the elf together with your needle and thread. A whip stitch is simply drawing your needle upwards from the back to front and then whipping your stitch over the edge. Then, drawing your needle upwards from the back to the front again.

Continue this stitch as you attach the elf together, being careful to “grab” or stitch in the vest, hair, and hat along the outer edges.

Step 4: Repeat the whip stitching on the sleigh but sure to leave an opening as a pocket for the elf to fit in the sleigh.

This Santa’s workshop decoration can sit on your tree for Christmas. Then, make its way to a toy box later on. It’s an elf plushie that goes into a little sleigh pocket. Get creative and embroider your little boy or girl’s name to add a personal touch to this ornament-toy.

Emily Steffen: Today, we will be making Santa's worksh­­­op-style ornaments for your Christmas tree that can also serve as toys or gifts for your favorite kiddo this holiday season. This project is inspired by Treetopia’s gorgeous Ch­­­­ristmas trees. The one you're seeing here is the Treetopia Portland Pine. We will be making both a nutcracker marionette-style puppet and an elf plushy with his own personal sleigh pocket.

First, we will be making the nutcracker-style puppet. You can find a pattern in the link below in the description. You'll need to print the pattern out. Grab some brads, glue, scissors, some dowels, string, a hole punch, some paint and paintbrush, and a Sharpie marker. Begin by decorating your nutcracker. Now, you can do this with crayons, markers, paints, colored pencils, collage paper. Really, the idea here is just to make your nutcracker your own, have some fun with your creativity, and make a really beautiful toy.

Grab a Sharpie marker to fill in the eyes, outline the nose, and add details to your nutcracker. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you want.

With paper scissors, cut out your nutcracker. When you're done, you should have two legs, two arms, a beard, two shoulder pads, and a body. Line up the legs where you want them to be placed on your nutcracker, and then use your hole punch to punch through both layers of the body and the legs. Use a fastener brad to punch through the top, and then fold open on the back so it keeps the legs on the body.

When you do the shoulders, put the shoulder pad on the back, punch through both layers, and then add the brad on the front. To add the rest of the arm, put the arm on top of the shoulder so that essentially, the shoulder is going to be the connecting point to the body and the arm. You may notice that your brads have really long edges, depending on what size you bought at the store. I found that if you clip the ends just with the scissors, it will be really easy to make sure that the ends don't poke through to the front and show.

Next, with a little bit of glue, add the beard. This is what really makes the Nutcracker fun. Here he is dancing around already. Measure out some string to your desired length, punch holes in the hands, and then, thread the string through the hands to get your marionette or puppet-style nutcracker. You can use twigs, dowels, or even kebob skewers to make your marionette puppet. Simply tie the string onto the dowel at the length desired, cut the excess, and ta-da! Your puppet is born. Check to make sure he moves around so that he has full mobility.

Next step, we will be making a Santa's workshop-inspired elf plushy with his own sleigh pocket. For this, you will also need the PDF pattern linked below, some felt scraps, sharp fabric scissors, thread, and sewing needles. Cut your pattern piece out, and then, using your needles, attach the pattern piece to your fabric scraps. Felt is a very easy fabric to use because you won't have to finish the edges and it won't fray or fall apart. Begin cutting out the pattern pieces according to the pattern. You will see that the elf body and the sleigh require two, so I've doubled the fabric here as I'm cutting out the elf body.

Cut out two of the elf body, two of the sleigh, one of the hair, one of the vest, and then, of course, one of the elf hat. Again, each of these pieces can be embellished as needed with something extra like sequins, glitter, or anything special. Feel free to trim or cut away or smooth out any edges, as necessary. You can start by laying the pieces together to make sure that they all line up and lay flat. The hair goes underneath the hat and the vest goes right on top.

With the needle and thread, begin sewing your elf together. You will use a whip stitch for this process. A whip stitch is simply drawing your needle up from the back to the front and repeating that process by whipping your stitch from the back to the front, the back to the front, all the way across the outer edge of your elf. You'll be able to grab the edges of the vest, the hair, or the hat, as you reach that point in the elf to stabilize the entire character together.

Now, be sure to keep your stitches as even as you can. But, the great thing about a handmade gift is just that—it's a handmade gift. It won't be perfect, and that's okay. Continue your stitches all the way around the outside of the elf until you've completed it back to the beginning. Do the same with the sleigh. Now, remember, you will need an opening in the sleigh to make sure that the elf can sit right in the sleigh for the tree. You can see the reference point on the pattern of where I stopped and started the stitches to make sure that the opening is big enough for the elf body. Finish off your stitching, and voilà, you're done,

I hope you've been inspired to make some Santa's workshop decorations for your Christmas tree or to give to your favorite kiddo this holiday season. Thanks for watching.

Add Other Santa’s Workshop-style Accents to the Mix

The nutcracker puppet and elf-in-a-sleigh plushie are just the start of your decorating theme. Here are some more ways to give your Christmas tree and your home an unmistakable Santa’s workshop vibe.

1. Make a Santa’s Workshop Sign

Don’t leave any room for doubt. Make or buy a sign that literally states that home is “Santa’s Workshop” for the time being. Use wood, cardboard, or upcycle Styrofoam you have lying around, and get creative with lettering. Here’s a cute one we spotted on Pinterest:

Mariah of Giggles Galore used plywood as her medium. Instead of paint, she went with a Circuit Easy Press and Cricut Vinyl to create a Santa’s workshop sign with a vintage look. Check out her blog post to learn how.

Another idea is to make or buy a small elf door decoration like this one by KatijanesCreations on Etsy. Prop it up against your wall where it’s in clear sight. That way kids will think that elves are coming in for toymaking duties while they’re asleep. And hey, there’s always old reliable Elf in the Shelf to use as a decorative accent.

Treetopia Tip: Think about what elves use in Santa’s Workshop and create versions for your home. An example is a set of small worktables decorated with tiny tools for the elves to use. Use dollhouse furniture to keep things to scale. Display them on your coffee table or mantel.

2. Accessorize with a Tree Skirt

A huge pile of presents on a colorful tree skirt is one way to get anybody in the Christmas spirit. It’s a useful and beautiful way to accent your centerpiece—keeps your gifts from getting dusty, too.  

Christmas tree skirt with felt appliques
Photo credit: Jennifer Perkins

You can craft one for your tree if you’re feeling extra creative. Draw inspiration from the things you associate with that special workshop in the North Pole. This includes elves, candy canes, reindeer, classic toys, and Santa himself, of course. We adore this tree skirt featuring handmade felt appliques by Jennifer Perkins.

santa's worshop decorations on a flocked christmas tree
Photo credit: Emily Hagood Jones of Oh Yeah Em

Another idea is to repurpose actual toys like this choo-choo train tree skirt by Emily Hagood Jones of Oh Yeah Em.

Treetopia Tip: Throwing in a life-sized nutcracker like Emily did brings you closer to your home-turned-Santa’s workshop goals.      

3. A Little Bit of Nostalgic Décor Goes a Long Way

If there’s anything that deserves a spot on your tree, it’s the Christmas ornament you made in Arts and Crafts class years ago. The same goes for the ones your kids just brought home. Small toys and trinkets with sentimental value make great decorations, too.

Photo credit: Ashley Glass

You want your tree to spark the same nostalgia that Santa’s Workshop brings to mind: happy Christmas memories. If you’ve got a vintage ornament collection, now is the time to bust it out. Don’t stop at the tree either and let the same theme run through the rest of your décor.

Pinecone Gnomes DIY Holiday Decorations
Photo credit: Tylene Welch
Waterless Snow Globe DIY Holiday Decorations

Here are more DIY Christmas craft projects you can turn into a family bonding activity:

They’ll fit right in with your Santa’s workshop decorations.

Add More Foliage to Your Santa’s Workshop Scene

Think back to your favorite children’s picture book of Christmas stories. Many of these depicted Santa’s workshop with a tree, wreaths, and garlands to keep things extra merry.

Balsam Spruce Wreath and Garland
Tinkerbell Silver Wreath and Garland
Pretty in Pink Wreath and Garland
Tuxedo Black Wreath and Garland

Take a page from your childhood memories and hang one, two, or more on your doors, walls, mantels, or banisters for an extra festive vibe.

1. Green Foliage

It’s a good idea to stick with classic greenery for that traditional Santa’s workshop look. Check out these gorgeous decorating ideas from our friends to get you started.

Phot credit: Beverly of Flamingo Toes

Bev of Flamingo Toes decorated her mantel with a green wreath and garland. She used a red Christmas star, pinecones, and shiny balls for ornaments. The crocheted stockings and pompom garland make it a warm and homey scene straight out of a storybook.

Photo credit: Paola Fuentes of Nicole Sometimes
Photo credit: Holly of Southern Mom Loves

Paola of Nicole Sometimes used her green garland in both typical and unconventional ways. She hung one on her banister and took a piece as an accent for her mirror. Check out her post for other ways to decorate with wreaths and garlands. On the other hand, Holly of Southern Mom Loves decorated two wreaths with berry and bird ornaments and hung them on her double doors. Aren’t they pretty?

2. Colorful Foliage

Remember also that Christmas is one way to express your personality and unique decorating style. So, feel free to experiment with foliage in other colors and patterns. Treetopia’s colorful wreaths and garlands are made from bright and durable PVC or flame-retardant tinsel. Pick from lit, unlit, pre- or undecorated ones.

Photo credit: Faith Towers Provencher of Design Fixation

For instance, gold is also a classic Christmas color. Adding a few metallic elements to your Santa’s workshop theme makes it more magical. It’s as if the elves went all out with their glitter dust to give the workshop a glam makeover. For inspiration, check out Faith of Design Fixation’s gorgeous wreath decorated with snowflakes and beaded balls.

Now that you’re done decorating, it’s time to celebrate! Don’t forget the little details. Leave out milk and cookies for Santa (and eat them, too). Another idea is to smudge your pinky finger with a little coal. Then, press it a couple of times on a light-colored surface to replicate elf footprints. Make sure it’s easy to clean! Or sprinkle glitter on the presents while the kids are asleep. These are just a few ways to add to the magic. We’re sure you can dream up some more.

We hope this post on Santa’s workshop decorations helps you celebrate a fun and memorable Christmas at home. If it did, spread the cheer and share it with friends and family. Let us know how your nutcracker puppet and elf sleigh plushie projects worked out by leaving a comment below. Have a merry one!

1 Comment

  1. Douglas Rowe Reply

    I enjoyed this tip. I was looking for crafts I can do with the grandkids.

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