Here’s how to make an outdoor DIY hanging Santa sleigh and reindeer out of plywood for less than $20 this holiday season.
We’ve had our eyes on a set of reindeer and a Santa sleigh for years – but the price is always ridiculous.
And, at the after-Christmas sales, they are always sold out.
So, I did what I do best – and I made my own.
It’s not the exact Santa sleigh and reindeer set we had our eyes on, but I wanted to go in a different direction than the standard Christmas yard props.
With my recent purchase of a new jigsaw, I could get pretty creative in making a hanging DIY Santa sleigh and reindeer decoration to hang on our porch.
After bouncing some ideas off my wife, we decided to cut a sleigh and two reindeer out of plywood.
Then my plan was to drill tiny holes along the perimeter and insert string lights. The whole thing was to be suspended between my front porch posts.
It turned out pretty nice – and we paid nothing for it. We used plywood leftovers from various big projects and lights that we already had. (If you purchase the plywood and lights, you’ll probably spend less than $20.)
Without further ado, here are the instructions on how to make this outdoor DIY Santa sleigh and reindeer decoration.
How to Build a Santa Sleigh & Reindeer Out of Plywood
For just a few hours of time and less than $20, you can make your own DIY Santa sleigh and reindeer outdoor decorations.
Sketching the Reindeer and Sleigh
To start, I did my best to sketch out a Santa sleigh and reindeer. Here’s my sketch of the sleigh:
Here’s the sketch of Santa’s reindeer:
Cutting the DIY Reindeer and Sleigh from Plywood
Once I was happy with the sketches, I moved onto my jigsaw to start cutting them out from the plywood.
It was important to use the right saw blade as I didn’t want to risk breaking off an antler or produce really rough edges. I opted for a fine blade made specifically for cutting curves in plywood.
To cut out the sketches, I found it easiest to place the plywood on top of a wooden box while using the jigsaw.
Here is the final cut of the reindeer from the plywood:
Here is the Santa sleigh from the plywood:
I did two reindeer, so after I cut out the first, I traced it onto another sheet of wood to make a second reindeer.
Drilling Holes for the Holiday Lights
With the plywood Santa sleigh and reindeer made, I moved on to drilling holes for the lights.
To start, I used a marker to place dots in the plywood where I wanted each hole to be.
I used a 2” spacer to ensure consistent spacing between all the holes. (It was a cut piece of a drinking straw.)
Here’s a picture showing how I used the straw spacer:
When all the marker dots were added to the plywood, I had to determine what size drill bit best matched the diameter of the string light bulbs.
I figured out what drill bit to use by trial and error by drilling various sized holes into a piece of scrap wood.
With my ideal-sized drill bit selected, I proceeded to drill out all the marker dots.
It was important to use a piece of scrap wood as a backing for the plywood as I drilled each hole. The backing allowed me to quickly move from hole to hole without worrying about damaging my workbench.
Also, it reduced the likelihood of the drill ripping out any plywood as the bit emerged out the other side.
Here’s the Swiss cheese reindeer after all the holes were made (the scrap wood backer board sure took a beating after two reindeer and a sleigh):
Attaching Outdoor Lights to the Santa Sleigh & Reindeer
With the holes drilled in the DIY Santa sleigh and reindeer, the next task was to insert the lights.
I had initially hoped that the holes were going to be snug enough to securely hold the bulbs without them falling out. This was not the case, however.
So I strategically placed several globs of hot glue to keep the string lights attached to the plywood.
Here I am working with the holiday lights and hot glue:
Here’s the completed backside of a plywood reindeer with the string lights attached:
Here’s the completed front side of a reindeer:
I repeated the process for the rest of the entourage until all the bulbs were inserted into the holes and secured down with hot glue.
Adding Hanging Hooks to the Outdoor Decor
One last thing remained and that was hooks to allow the sleigh and reindeer to be suspended.
I decided to use some wire mounting clips for this task. These were small plastic clips normally used to mount coaxial cables to walls for organization.
However, these plastic clips would be perfect for Santa sleigh and reindeer.
The DIY wooden Santa sleigh and reindeer were now completed.
To hang them up outside, I added two eye hole screws to my porch posts.
Then I ran some wire through the plastic clips attached to the plywood earlier.
Finally, I strung the wire through each eye hole screw, tensioned it well and plugged in the lights.
Here is the wooden hanging sleigh and reindeer in its full beauty.
Here is what the reverse side of the wooden outdoor decor looks like – with the outdoor lights:
And, I lost the daylight pretty quickly, so I lucked out in seeing the lit-up wooden reindeer and Santa sleigh right away.
I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. More importantly, my wife loved it.
If you are wanting to buy outdoor Christmas decor but don’t want to spend the money, definitely think about making your own. We made ours for free with the extra materials we had.
However, if you have to run to the hardware store for materials, it would probably run about $20 (plywood and 3 strings of lights).
Not bad for $20, right!?