North Pole Sign

Build a North Pole Sign for Christmas! Inexpensive to make, using recycled materials.


Age: Adult

Difficulty: Medium

Time Scale:  5 out of 5


  • styrofoam packing one inch thick or pink styrofoam insulation 10x24 inches
  • Carpet tube six feet long
  • 2x3 two feet long
  • 2x3 foot piece of 3/4 inch plywood
  • 12 feet of 2.5 inch wide wired red ribbon
  • four 2 inch screws
  • screwdriver
  • dremel or carving knife
  • sharp knife
  • jigsaw
  • mask
  • white glue
  • construction adhesive for foam
  • glue gun/glue sticks
  • green painters masking tape
  • small glass light globe
  • tea light
  • cardboard
  • small cardboard boxes
  • Christmas wrapping paper
  • snow glitter
  • snow tex®
  • 2 plastic snowflakes
  • toothpicks
  • liner brush
  • 1/2 and 1 inch paint brushes
  • paper
  • printer
  • pen
  • pencil
  • fine tipped red felt pen
  • Paint in:
    cinnamon brown
    light brown
    white (latex paint)

How to Make a North Pole Sign

Carpet tubes have been used to make many of my craft projects and the best part is, they are free. Stronger and more durable than expected even though they are made of cardboard. This North Pole Sign is made using a cardboard carpet tube. Here's how to do it.


Cut a carpet tube to 6 feet in length using a sharp knife or a jigsaw.  

Base coat with white paint. Let dry.

Wrap green painters tape in a spiral around the carpet tube so the stripes will be 4 inches apart and 1.5 inches wide. Some carpet tubes will have a spiral line in them already. Follow this line as a guide.

Paint the 1.5 inch strip with red paint. Peel off the tape.


When the paint is dry, add three narrow lines spaced about 1/4 inch apart and 1 inch up from the wide lines. The easiest way to do this is to mark it out with a pencil and then fill it in with a red felt pen.

Cut a piece of packing styrofoam or solid pink foam insulation, 24 inches long by 10 inches wide. Here is where I can tell you the pros and cons of the white Styrofoam versus the pink insulation. The white packing Styrofoam is easier to find for free than the pink building insulation. The worst part, it is MESSY! The pink kind is much more dense and it is easier and less messy to carve. 


If free hand for the lettering isn't your thing, use the computer and print out the letters on white paper. Lay the paper on the Styrofoam and trace over the letters with a pen. The picture shows transfer paper underneath the paper but this isn't necessary. I happened to be using vintage transfer paper that still has the box. "Someone" informed me I shouldn't be using it because it is antique, so I put it away. Push firmly to transfer the lines through the paper and into the Styrofoam. Remove the paper and trace around these lines with the pen. 

Now draw a long icicle hanging down on the left side and a shorter snowy looking edge all across the top.

Add a snowbank across the bottom.


Use a dremel or knife to carve away the Styrofoam. Remove the background, around the north pole letters, icicles and snowbank, so they stand out. Add some lines to look like wood grain behind the lettering.  Make sure to wear a mask and do this in a place with good ventilation.  This is very messy and I'm sure the dust can be hazardous if you breathe it in. Be careful! This isn't the only thing that was messy. I am having a really bad hair day. Ugh! By the time I was done, it was even worse.


Base coat the north pole sign with two layers of white paint. 

Cut a piece of cardboard the same size as the Styrofoam and glue on to the back using construction adhesive rated for foam. Some other types of glue can melt the Styrofoam away. It isn't fun to go to all that work carving this out only to have the glue eat a big hole in it. I learned this the hard way on another craft project.  


Paint the area directly behind the lettering with cinnamon brown paint. Add some highlights with a lighter brown paint.

Use black paint for the lettering. When dry, add a small amount of snow tex® to the letters. Apply it using a toothpick. 

If you are from the frozen north you will instinctively know where the snow should be placed. If you are from some place warm, maybe not so much. The snow would collect on the top of the lettering and also down in some of the edges.


Believe me, knowing this little tidbit, is knowledge I could do without. Snow is not my favorite thing. The fake stuff is pretty great though!

Add white glue to the snowy area and to the top edge of the styrofoam. Sprinkle with snow glitter. Let dry.


Glue the north pole sign on the carpet tube, about one foot down from the top. This is put at a bit of an angle. Yes, that was on purpose. Put it straight, if you like.

Use 12 feet of wired red ribbon to make a bow. Hot glue to the post just above the sign.

Hot glue plastic snowflakes, one on the left side below the lettering and one on the right.


Make a base to hold your north pole sign by cutting a wavy edge into a 2x3 foot piece of 3/4 inch plywood. Screw a 2x3 that is about 2 feet long to this.

Paint the plywood with at least two coats of white latex paint.

Slip the carpet tube over top of the 2x3. Check for level and then screw the carpet tube on to the 2x3 to hold it in place.

If you don't mind a hole in the ground, and you live in a frost free area,
a plywood base isn't necessary.  In this case, cut a point on one end of a 2x3 and pound it into the ground. Slip the north pole sign over top of this. It isn't possible to do this where I live because the ground is frozen solid in the winter time.


Use a 4 inch white glass light fixture globe for the top of the pole. Cut a piece of cardboard in a circle so it sits on the bottom of the globe. Poke a hole in the center. Put the end of a battery operated tea light in through the hole. Hot glue in place.


Push the globe down into the inside of the carpet tube. When you want to turn on the tea light you can remove it, turn on the light and then set it back in place. This was the easiest way to add light. I don't have to worry about it being a fire hazard, but it isn't very bright. It wouldn't be too difficult to add an electrical fixture but I wanted to keep this fairly simple.

Now it's time to wrap up fake presents using some small cardboard boxes and colorful Christmas paper. Place these around the base of the post. Now it is starting to look a lot like Christmas.

Build this North Pole sign and spread some holiday cheer. It will even make Santa, feel right at home.

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