The making of "It's a SpongeBob Christmas" stop-motion episode

If you're a fan of Rankin Bass style Christmas Specials like I am, you should tune into SpongeBob Squarepants on December 9th [UPDATE: the special will now air tomorrow, 12/6 at 8pm] to watch "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!" (which Jason posted about here in November). I watched a screener and they perfectly captured the look and feel of those delightful old stop motion specials.

Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh directed "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!," which features the beloved iconic character SpongeBob Squarepants animated in stop-motion for the first time. The half-hour holiday special will air on Nickelodeon Sunday, December 6th at 8:00pm (ET/PT). It’s a SpongeBob Christmas! was inspired by the classic Rankin/Bass specials (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) and the popular SpongeBob song released in 2009, “Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas),” co-written by Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob) and Andy Paley. The special features John Goodman as Santa Claus.

In "It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!" Plankton turns everybody in Bikini Bottom from nice to naughty by feeding them his special jerktonium-laced fruitcake all in an effort to get his Christmas wish -- the Krabby Patty formula. The Nickelodeon premiere will include bonus scenes featuring a stop-motion version of the character “Patchy,” also voiced by Tom Kenny.

Work began on the "It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!" in October 2011 at Screen Novelties production studio, where the Mark, Seamus and Chris Finnegan (Producer) worked closely with Paul Tibbitt (Executive Producer), Steve Hillenburg (Creator) and Vincent Waller (Creative Director) to ensure the two-dimensional cartoon characters were properly translated into three-dimensional puppets.

Inneresting facks about the making of "It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!"

• 60 lbs of baking soda was used to make snow (tried to truck in real snow but it all melted) to create the Patchy the Pirate Winter Wonderland scenes!

• Palm fronds from a tree in a school yard were used to create SpongeBob's Pineapple house!

• 38 different types of foam were used to build the character’s bodies, heads, set pieces, props, ground, mountains, coral… all sorts of fun places!

• 1970's shag carpet was used for the floor of Sandy's house!

• 22.92 pounds of wood chips were used for Sandy's Tree!

• 3 discarded Christmas trees were used for Patchy the Pirate’s Winter Wonderland scenes!

• 1 actual starfish was used in the production!

• 20 boxes of fruit flavored, gluten-free breakfast cereal were used for the coral rocks!

• 6 boxes of chocolate-flavored puff cereal were used to create the "fruitcake" pieces going through SpongeBob's tastebuds!

• 6 months worth of old time Christmas music was played to keep the production in the spirit, which included 83 versions of the "Nutcracker Suite!"

• 21 pounds of googly eyes were used for rivets, texture pieces, knobs etc!

• 42 pounds of glitter were used for the special…basically where you see ground, you see glitter!

• 24 bunches of craft flowers were used to create the parade float!


  1. I know I’ve been away from the Sponge Bob show for quite a while, but… they have snow at the bottom of the ocean now? 
    Clue me in, ye who have been watching: When the show runners finally dropped the premise of “it’s all underwater” did they phase it out sneaky like or did they make an event of it, some sort of big glorious “F*ck It-moment”?

    1. SpongeBob has always been a surreal show that bent the “rules” (starting with a talking sponge.)  There’s been fire, fast food chains and a land mammal in Bikini Bottom since the first season.  Also, the second season Christmas special had plenty of snow.  Ain’t changed much …

    2. Yep, it was a big glorious “F*ck It-Moment”. But  just like I put in my comment below….i would like to see a “behind the scenes” part were the clay made objects were dipped in water…..just to inform or clarify to kids who will start thinking they could live on land that its IMPOSSIBLE and stop kids from taking fish out of fish tanks……but i think they are smart enough not to do that….but it could happen.

    3. That’s not the snow we’re used to. Every holiday season, the folks at Bikini Bottom mine and then shave undersea methane ice and arrange the light, fluffy shavings in a pleasing manner that imitates the look of snow. 

      After the holidays, they add it to their fuel reserve. How else do you think Krabby-Patties get grilled under water? 
      *****          ************************     *******    *************************   ********    ************************    *********    *********
      Anyway (I enjoy SB) – methane ice is pretty interesting and there’s a lot of it in our ocean bottoms…..until it was discovered there, science thought it only existed naturally in the colder regions of our solar system. The Krabby-Patties cooking fuel idea isn’t mine – it was the speculation of a bright group of elementary school kids I was minding for the day a few years ago. Here’s a link to the executive summary on undersea methane ice:

  2. Stop motion animation for Sponge Bob you say?  Blasphemy!  Nay, Sacrilege, I say!!! I mean, I think…..

  3. I don’t dislike Spongebob . . . but a little bit goes a long way.

    That said, I really liked this special! It was really eerie seeing the characters carefully rendered as models. 

  4. Fans of this style of animation should check out John Clark Matthews’ stop-motion animations at, which include a couple of awesome Curious George shorts, Frog and Toad Are Friends, and many others that you hazily remember from the sunniest parts of your childhood.  Great stuff and my son loves them!

    1. Isn’t he equally well known for screaming, “PUT YOUR HAND ON THAT WALL!” at Jake Busey?

  5. Is it me, or is Nickelodeons cartoon christmas lineup shorter?…..eeeeh…..well can’t complain, this was a good ep. to watch. Luckily they did not stick the clay in water…or should they have…..hmmmmmmmmmmm 

    1. Yep, air date is incorrect – originally it was scheduled for the 9th, now it’s airing on the 6th.  And don’t forget, there’s an album to go along with the special – as noted here on BoingBoing recently:

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