Christmas Adventure Calendar

Dec 7: Sweet Candy Cane-Deer (Reindeer) Christmas Tree Ornament Project


By Chris Dunmire | Posted December 19, 2008 | Updated December 24, 2019

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Candy Cane-Deer - Sweet Christmas Craft Project

Candy Cane + Christmas Reindeer = The Brilliant Candy Cane-Deer!

Have you herd? A new species of deer has hooved on over from hither and yon and is quite popular with the younger crowd.

I actually market-tested this critterly confection at my first Crafty Christmas Playshop with a group of 7- to 11-year-olds (and their parents) and quickly found the adoration of googly-eye creatures has no age limit.

Yes, this punny craft was embraced deerly as the children eagerly transformed plain candy canes into sweet, mythical creatures. You, too, can follow my basic Candy Cane-Deer project below to begin assembling your own herd of caribou with about 15 carbs each.

But be forewarned: These deer probably won't be joining Santa's sleigh or Dancer and Prancer anytime soon, although they do like to hang around ornamenting in trees!


Project Materials Needed:

  • 1 Candy cane
  • 3 Chenille stems ("pipe cleaners", your color choice)
  • 2 Googly eyes
  • 1 Solid bead eye (for nose)
  • 1 Jingle bell (with hole for thread)
  • Thread
  • Craft glue
  • Optional: Curling ribbon, scissors

Project Tip:

If you're making this craft with little ones, the most challenging part for them might be gluing on the eyes and nose. This step can be done first or last, depending on the excitement factor of the craft-ees. If it's done first, be sure to allow the face to dry completely so the pieces don't plop off and roll away during the excited assembling of the antlers and legs. My group preferred doing the gluing last.

Close-up of candy cane-deer face.

Candy Cane-Deer Assembly Instructions:

1. Assemble Candy Cane-Deer face.

Dot on three small nibs of craft glue wherever you want the eyes and nose to be positioned on the reindeer face (around the bend on the top of the candy cane is ideal.)

(Note: If too much glue is applied, the features will slide, so use sparingly.) Hold eyes and nose in place until set and then put aside assembly to dry completely for an hour.

2. Assemble Candy Cane-Deer antlers and shape into place.

Take one chenille craft stem and bend it in half. Then position it on top of the candy cane "head" (wrapped around from underneath) about an inch from the eyes where you want the antlers to protrude upwards.

Next, twist both stems tightly (but gently) at least one time around to hold the antlers in place. (Note: This first twist is the most important for tightness and keeping the antlers in place.) You can wrap it around from underneath more than once, but know each 'wrap around' uses up antler length.

Finally, bend and shape the antlers in whatever 'antler fashion' you please: zigzag, spiral, or organic.

3. Assemble Candy Cane-Deer legs.

As with the previous step with the antlers, the legs are assembled in the same fashion, only wrapped "downward" on the reindeer body. Again, be sure to make the first twist tight to keep the legs in place. (Note: If either the legs or antlers need a dab of glue later on to assist with keeping in place, feel free to use it.)

The great thing about these dynamic "bendy" legs is that you can make them bend in any fun kind of way: flying, running, sitting, dancing, praying, etc. and then bend them again another way later.

4. Assemble jingle bell collar.

Would an authentic Candy Cane-Deer be complete without a jingle bell collar? Certainly not! To make yours, thread a length of string or thread through the jingle bells's loop, position it onto the deer's neck, and tie it down with a tight knot so it doesn't slide. Trim off any excess thread.

5. Optional: Assemble curling ribbon to make a 'flying reindeer' Christmas tree ornament.

If you'd like to use your Candy Cane-Deer as a hanging Christmas tree ornament (and REALLY make it look like it's flying!) tie a long piece of curling ribbon around its mid-section and then loop-tie the ribbon ends (for extra fun before tying, curl the ribbon in its nifty curly way with scissor edges).

Don't Confuse Your Christmas Deer Check List

Honestly, I have no-eye deer if other candy cane deer projects exist, but make no mythstake; you won't find my nifty "Don't Confuse your Christmas Deer!" guide anywhere else:

Don't confuse your Christmas deers!

  • Is its body candy?
  • Or is its body fur?
  • Does it have swiveling googly eyes?

If you checked two of three above, you have a candy cane deer.

This project is dedicated to my special teacher friend Pam who Google-mapped directions to the "North Pole" Christmas Tree Farm so I could get this authentic reindeer snapshot, and who let me hang my first Candy Cane-Deer in her Christmas Tree

©2008, 2019 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.