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Christmas Origami, How to Make a Saint Nicholas

We might have been born and raised on a mountain top, or on a beach by the ocean, or maybe in the Pampas, the Tropics, or Artic. We might have different celebrations and festivities, but no matter what stories we are told as children, what ritual moments we share with our close ones, these are the true gifts that stay with us forever.

I cherish memories of receiving Christmas presents from the Christ Child (Niño Dios) on Christmas Day, December 25th, in my native Colombia. My niece, Eliana, was born in Holland and when she was little she received presents from Saint Nicolas (Sinterklaas).

Saint Nicholas’ feast day is December 6th. In the Netherlands, the day before, on December 5th, children leave clogs or shoes next to the fireplace or at doort for St. Nicholas, which they fill with hay or carrots for his white horse*.

In return, the next morning, Saint Nicholas or his helper, pay a visit by ringing the doorbell or knocking at the door. When they open the door, children find small presents and sweets from St. Nicholas.

Did you know that the story of Santa Claus begins with Saint Nicholas?

Today, making origami gifts and ornaments has become a Christmas tradition at my home. I’m happy to share this origami St. Nicholas, of my own design, in the following video tutorial. This model could also be a Father Christmas, or Santa Claus!

If you fold it, join and share your fold in our Facebook Group  Click Here to Join 

Tips and Suggestions to Make this Origami Saint Nicholas

  • Use a square piece of paper –red on one side and white on the other side.
  • Use a square with sides double the size of the finished Saint Nicholas. For a model 3 inches tall (7.5 cm) use a square 6 x 6 inches (15 x 15 cm).
  • Thin paper –like “Kami” known in the US as “origami paper”, works well.
  • Make this Saint Nicholas with thicker paper (e.g. watercolor) using “wet-folding” techniques.
  • The white horse in the first photo is called “Simple Pony”, a model by John Montroll. Find diagrams in a book titled Horses in Origami (affiliate)

Wet-folding Technique
Wet-folding involves applying water to the paper during the folding process. Lightly dampening the paper makes it easier to manipulate and model, and allows for the formation of both soft and sharp creases. When dry, the model will retain its shape.

How to wet-foldi the Saint Nicholas at the top of this post

  • Use red acrylic paint to color one side of 90lb watercolor paper.
  • Let dry, then cut a square.
  •  With a clean damp sponge or a cloth, lightly moisten the paper on both sides and start folding.
  • You will need to experiment as you fold so the paper is not too wet or too dry. But I would err on the side of not dampening too much.
  • You might want to re-apply water as you go on with your folding.

Click here for instructions to make this origami Christmas Tree

And now it’s your turn! Close your eyes for a moment and remember your family traditions. What was significant for you on the gift-giving holiday?  Who brought you presents? Share with us as a comment.

Click HERE and try some other Christmas origami for gifts or decorations.

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 * The white origami horse in the first photo was designed by John Montroll. Diagrams found in his book ‘Horses in Origami‘. (Amazon affiliate)

25 thoughts on “Christmas Origami, How to Make a Saint Nicholas”

  1. Leyla, I always enjoy making your nativity set and this saint. I take this chance to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and more creations in the coming years.

  2. Leyla, thank you for all your wonderful origami instructions. I have enjoyed them all and look forward to many more. They are clear and easy to follow. I look forward to receiving the notification by email.

  3. Dear Leyla,

    I really love the Sinterklaas, but where can I find your horse. It’s a very important missing part of my sinterklaas display. Sinterklaas can’t be without his horse ;)

    Please help me to find the missing horse instructions.


  4. Hello Leyla, I’m from the Netherlands and we friended on FB. Last night I was at a folding meet up in NYC talking about Saint Nicolas (yes Sinterklaas) and Gay Merril Gross was telling me about your Sinterklaas and Horse and how wonderful it is. Well she is right! I love your Sinterklaas with horse and I have to fold it for my kids at school (I’m a kindergarden teacher in Holland). Thanks you for sharing this wonderful Sinterklaasje (it means this small and sweet looking person ;-)) and his horse. Love to see the traditional Sinterklaas folded and read about the tradition on internet while I’m in the USA! Thank you very much, I love al your work and I really hope to meet you one day in person.

    • Hello Mariette,
      I’m very happy you liked my sinterklaasje. One of my nieces it’s Dutch, so part of my heart is in the Netherlands! Thank you for your kind words.I look forward to meeting you personally too.

  5. Hi Leyla, this is fantastic news! I have been away on business for a few weeks and my little origami club at my workplace were asking “What can we make for Christmas?” and “when will you stop flying around the world and teach us again?”
    ..and I had just decided to teach them the best Santa that I know – which I learned last year when you designed it for the Simple Origami competition on facebook. I only had the crease pattern that you showed in the competition, but I learned it from that.
    I was just about to ask if you would let me teach it to my class next week – and then I saw this blog! So – please can I teach it? :-)

  6. aaaw thank you for the tute of the siant nicholas, i have send this link to my friend as well. She felt for your blog too.
    It was a big fight this year of adults about this celebrating event. It’s every year the same, sad. So this is awesome and cool i will try it out.

  7. Leyla, The figure is pretty. Your tutorial is always precise, I love watching the way you demonstrate. I have an idea, it can be called the shepherd or even Joseph in the Bible. I love to show my kids this figure when I represent the Christmas story. Is there anyway that I can make a Mary as well with a little change in steps?

    • Hi Edna,
      Thank you for your suggestion. As a matter of fact, I have been woking on an idea for a Nativity inspired on this St Nicholas. I have developed the figures for Joseph, Mary and the child. I still need to refine some details. I don’t know if I will be able to post them before this Christmas.


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