Holiday Decor with Cricut Maker vs. Explore Air 2

As the holiday season approaches one of the things I get lots of questions about from readers is which Cricut machine to buy. Whether you are planning to hit up the Black Friday deals or hoping that Santa leaves one under the tree for you, I’m here to help you decide which machine is right for you.

Modern geometric snowman

I have been a Cricut owner since 2010 and over the years I’ve crafted with each of their machines.  You are probably familiar with the two most recent machines, the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Maker.  The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a still a great machine, but the Cricut Maker is my go-to craft tool these days. Why?  The Cricut Maker is more versatile and available with more options which makes it ideal for ALL of your crafting needs.

Geometric snowman holiday decor

The Adaptive Tool System

The main difference between the two machines is that the Cricut Maker has an Adaptive Tool System that has a gear tool slot in it. That gear system allows you to use new tools, like the Rotary Blade, Knife Blade, and Scoring Wheels, that the Explore Air 2 can’t utilize.  There are also plans for additional tools to be released in the future. In addition to a variety of tools the Maker also has 10x the power, which means it can cut hundreds of more materials than the Explore Air 2.

Adaptive tool system cricut maker

Cricut Maker Rotary Blade

The gear at the top of the Rotary Blade allows the blade to swivel instead of picking the blade up and down and dragging it to make the cuts. This precise technology is how the Cricut Maker can cut fabric, sewing patterns, and fine papers like tissue paper, all without tearing or pulling.  The pressure is perfect and even and can make such intricate cuts you’ll forget all about your handheld rotary blade!  The best part, unlike the Explore Air 2 you don’t have to back your fabric before cutting.  To learn more about the Rotary Blade and cutting fabric check out this Cricut Maker Review post.

Cricut Maker Knife Blade

You will find the same gear at the top of the Knife Blade, which allows the steeply angled Knife Blade edge to easily and safely slice through thicker, denser materials with 10X more cutting power.  With all that power behind the Knife Blade, you can cut thicker materials such as balsawood, leather, craft foam, Cricut chipboard, shrink film, matboard and so much more.  While the Explore Air 2 has a deep cut blade it is still not capable of cutting most of these thicker materials.  To learn more about the Knife Blade and cutting these materials check out this Cricut Maker Review post.

Knife blade cricut maker

Cricut Maker Scoring Wheel

Just like the other tools the Scoring Wheel has the same gear system and offers precise, crisp lines as it scores your material.  The Cricut Explore Air 2 has a scoring pen, but it never seemed deep enough. My projects never looked as perfect or as professional as I wanted them to, and sometimes I downright had a hard time finding the score lines.  This is a new tool for me and I absolutely LOVE it!  This tool has two levels, .01 with one wheel and .02 with two wheels for projects with a sharp or flat bend.  I decided to put this product to the test and created some festive new holiday decor using my Cricut Maker.

Scoring wheel blade cricut maker

The Cricut Maker has truly enhanced my craft experience.  With this innovative machine I’m able to create everything from party favors to home decor.  When it comes to holiday decor I tend to change my mind frequently, but that can get expensive if you are shopping for new decor each year.  That is why I love my Cricut Maker, I can create custom decor to fit my current theme and style.

Geometric paper snowman

Here is what you’ll need to make this festive holiday decor:

Geometric snowman holiday decor supplies

Start by opening up the Cricut Design Space Project for the Geometric Snowman.

Geometric snowmen design file

Once you have the file open follow the step by step instructions for creating the geometric snowman.  I used the smallest snowman for my holiday decor.  Select the material you are using, I used Cricut Kraftboard because it is thicker and sturdier than cardstock, and load the mat.  You will be prompted to insert the Scoring Wheel into housing B.  

Scoring wheel

Scoring wheel prompt

Now all you have to do is let the machine work it’s magic scoring and cutting out the pattern for the snowman.  Once the pattern has been cut remove it from the mat and fold along each of the score lines.

Geometric snowman fold

Next, glue the tabs together to form the geometric shapes.

Geometric snowman scoring wheel folds

Glue each of the pieces together, starting with the largest one on the bottom, to build your snowman.

Geometric snowman shapes

Poke a small hole on each side of the middle shape and insert the twigs for the arms.

Geometric snowman twig arms

Finally, tie a ribbon between the top and middle shape for the snowman scarf.

Geometric snowman scarf

I combined this modern geometric snowman with black and white buffalo plaid for the perfect wintery holiday decor.

Geometric snowman holiday decor

In addition to this festive snowman, I also created black and white polka dot trees with my Knife Blade and chipboard.  

Paper geometric snowman

I also created a custom Farm Fresh Christmas Tree hanging banner with iron-on vinyl to complete my modern farmhouse holiday decor.  I love that I can create custom holiday decor with my Cricut Maker in less than an hour, without breaking the bank.  

Modern farmhouse holiday decor with cricut maker

If you are considering purchasing a Cricut machine this holiday season I hope this comparison review has helped you see the differences between the Cricut Maker vs. Cricut Explore Air 2.  They are both amazing machines, it just depends on what you want to use the machine for.  Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with the Cricut Maker, it will soon be your go-to craft tool!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.

Mariah Leeson is the creative mind behind With a passion for celebrating, Mariah created Giggles Galore to inspire families to celebrate life’s little moments with creative, budget friendly ideas. She loves cooking, reading, crafting, hosting parties and most of all spending time giggling with her family.

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