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A snowman can be made in prison with commissary materials and a good dose of creativity.
Photo by Nataliia Kozynska on iStock

Holidays are often lonely for those of us in prison. When a new person comes to my prison, many of us will try to take them under our wing. We know what it is like to miss family and friends. 

One woman in our prison is particularly creative and has made the holidays special for many of us. Allow me to share some of her creative ideas with you.

There are no bright colors in prison, so we use our limited resources to make it festive for Christmas. Last holiday season, we made snowmen out of cardboard from our commissary and put them on each of the women’s doors on our wing. We also made snowmen out of hairnets to place in our cells. 

Here are instructions for making two kinds of snowmen with your own prison supplies.

Cardboard snowman

Cut cardboard into circles of different sizes to create a snowman. Since we do not have scissors, we use nail clippers. The snowman will be about the size of your hand. 

Glue white floss over the cardboard. 

Now to give it personality. It’s easy to find pages from magazines with the color orange for a nose, black for the eyes and red for a scarf. 

Now you are ready to put tape on the back of the cardboard to display your masterpiece. Our prison doesn’t provide tape, so we need to be resourceful and reuse tape wherever we can find it.

Hairnet snowman

Another way to make a mini-snowman uses a white hair net — the kind used by kitchen workers. 

Remove the elastic and cut it in two pieces; set aside. 

Lay the hairnet flat, then place cotton on top of the hairnet. We don’t get cotton in our prison, so we break apart tampons. Reserve the tip of a tampon for later use.

Gather all the sides of the hairnet together around the cotton. It will look like a big blob at first. Then, take one of the reserved elastic pieces and tie it all together. Take the second piece of elastic and tie it around the middle of the snowman to create a head and a bottom. Fluff it up as needed to make it look like a snowman. 

Leave the excess elastic hanging for a scarf. Or use the string from the tampon.

Now for the finishing touches. Get the tip of the tampon that you have saved and glue it to the top of the snowman’s head. Your snowman has a hat now. Get a marker and color the rim of your snowman’s hat. Color the snowman’s scarf to add a little more cheer, too. You can also add a nose and eyes using magazine pages. 

Now you have a mini snowman (or two) for decoration during the winter months. Don’t forget to give your snowman a name.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Tina Lunney is a writer and student enrolled in the NJ-STEP prison college program with Raritan Valley Community College at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. Lunney aspires to work toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice once she graduates.