We're deckin' it
Some get it when autumn’s colors start making way for winter, for others it kicks in when summer is still in full swing. The Christmas itch. How to dress the tree this year? How to deck the halls, the shelves, the cabinets, the window sills – and all other deckable surfaces? There’s lots of ways you can go about it, but for us, one particular approach is the most magical. Making Christmas dioramas.
With dioramas, you can capture a scene – be it a vista or a story – into a tiny space. No matter how small or inconspicuous the spot may be, Christmas dioramas can turn it into a place of wonder. In this article, we will explore Christmas diorama ideas and several ways of creating these miniature scenes. Some of them are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, whereas others can grow as big as your Christmas spirit allows. Some are of the handmade type, while others just take a bit of assembly and a vision. With creations like these, the most whimsical winter wonderland could be right inside your home.
Christmas dioramas in baubles
When it comes to decorating the Christmas tree, the choice of baubles is key. Usually, one wonders about which colors to go for this year. But if you ask us, the colored baubles aren’t all that interesting. What rocks our Christmas socks are, in fact, the transparent ones. Much like a snow globe, these clear baubles are the ones that can host something inside. A little scene, or a little world. Dioramas that draw you in, as you peek into their detailed scenery.
Making your own Christmas dioramas inside of baubles is one of the most satisfying ways of getting crafty for the season. The miniature scenes can portray any vision that comes to mind. Whether it’s the perfect winter wonderland, Santa in the act of delivering his gifts, or Scrooge being visited by your favorite Christmas ghost, there’s nothing that can’t be miniaturized.
When creating Christmas dioramas in baubles, you’ll first need some fillable baubles. For example, clear plastic baubles that open in half. These are easy to come by, and will generally work well for putting together a simple little scene. However, for more complex dioramas, we recommend using glass globes that feature a hole. This latter option allows more fine-grained control over the placement of the diorama parts. After all, you don’t have to struggle with the task of reuniting two halves of a bauble without messing up your creation. Moreover, a globe made of glass wins in the looks department too.
Building the diorama
Once you’ve got your container, it’s time to create the Christmas diorama. Firstly, to offset the curvature of the globe and create a workable ground level, a layer of snow is usually a good starting point. As most artificial snow mimics life-sized snow texture, we recommend getting snow that is specifically meant for miniature creations.
Next, you’ll add some elements to your scene, such as trees, houses, or figurines. There are many Christmas diorama supplies available for this very purpose. For instance, you can get a bunch of pine trees, or just use their tips if they’re not quite tiny enough yet. Additionally, if you’re looking for eensy-weensy Christmas houses to fit in your baubles, how about these miniatures on Amazon? Even if their colors are not quite what you have in mind, there’s nothing that a little coat of paint can’t fix. And if you’d like to feature a mini Santa in your Christmas dioramas, this set on Etsy could be just the thing. Or perhaps you’re going for a more vast winter landscape inside your tiny capsule, and want your elements as small as they get. Like this adorable micro reindeer!
You get the gist. It’s a good thing those clear baubles come in sets, ’cause we’ll need plenty for all those ideas we want to fill them with.
Christmas village diorama
An article about Christmas dioramas wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of the classics: the Christmas village diorama. A Christmas village is a miniature scene that depicts a cozy town or village, with all its hustle and bustle amidst a snowy landscape. In essence, it’s the kind of picturesque place that you would love to visit in Christmas time, if it would be life-sized. Being nice and small instead, it is a place that you can pour your creative landscaping and villagescaping skills into. What would your idyllic winter village look like?
Classic German Christmas village
For many, the perfect village has the traditional quaintness about it that you’ll stumble upon in the European mountain ranges. Therefore, many of the Christmas village collections feature houses with an old German appeal, like those by Lemax. From a cute bakery to a cozy inn, the buildings in these collections have a classic timber framing. You can also find a variety of pubs and taverns to make sure the villagers can warm their bellies after a day in the cold. After all, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the snow. From sleighing and skiing down the slopes, to snowball fights and building snowmen, figurines will make the mountain village come to life.
Victorian Christmas village
Another beloved style of Christmas villages is, of course, Victorian England. Villages built in this aesthetic look like they’ve been pulled straight out of a Charles Dickens story. We especially love the collection by Department 56 in this theme. The little houses look like those you may find in Old streets in London, or like cottages in the English countryside. Naturally, Scrooge’s counting house and his London residence are among the pieces – ghosts included! To lean into the Dickens feel even more, you can also get figurines that fit the Victorian theme. From carolers with top hats and Victorian dresses to a lamplighter and an old-timey newspaper stand. For anybody that’s into vintage style Christmas, could there be a more perfect Christmas village?
North Pole Christmas village
For some, it’s not quite Christmassy enough unless there are elves, reindeer and a Santa involved. If you’re one of them, rest assured, there are supplies out there to build yourself the perfect North Pole Christmas Village. For example, the houses in the North Pole Village collection by Department 56. These are just as whimsical and jolly as you’d imagine. Featuring the classic Christmas color combination of red, green and white, a set of cute buildings make up a mini industry where all the Christmas supplies are built. The Tree Factory is where all the artificial trees come from, while ornaments are made in a bauble-shaped house. Moreover, there’s a mitten-shaped house for Christmas knits. And all the baking is done in a Gingerbread house. Obviously!
Once you’ve got yourself a nice set of Christmas houses and figurines, you just need a snow blanket to create the surface to place them on. Then some trees, lanterns, benches and other elements will bring the scene together nicely. The way you choose to arrange the pieces is what will give the Christmas village diorama your own unique touch. Not only from other people’s villages, but also from your own arrangements, as you build it from scratch, year after year. To help you along, we’ve written an article all about building and growing the coziest Christmas villages, so be sure to check that one out too!
Christmas dioramas in shadow boxes
When you think of capturing Christmas magic in a craft, card stock might not be the first material that comes to mind. Yet, it can create some of the most enchanting winter scenes, when used in a shadow box.
The principle of a shadow box is simple: by arranging paper cutouts in a box, you create a layered scene. Then the magic is added. This is done with a light source, typically placed in the back of the box. The closer a paper shape is to the light source, the more it gets brightened up by it. The further away – so, usually the most frontal ones – the darker their appearance. This results in a gradient of silhouettes, emphasizing the different shapes and the three-dimensional nature of the scene.
How to make a Christmas shadow box?
A Christmas shadow box is a great type of decor if you like a neutral toned, minimalist Christmas ornament, as you can limit yourself to just a few elements. But they are also perfect if you prefer the opposite, since you can add as many elements and details as you like. As for the diorama itself, there are many Christmas-related scenes that lend themselves a shadow box creation. Classic examples are a pine forest, or a cottage in the snowy hills. You can also work with human silhouettes, like kids having a snowball fight, or Santa on his delivery run.
To create a Christmas shadow box, there are only a few supplies you will need. That is, a shadow box, some neutral card stock, PVC foam to make spacers, an art knife, and some lights. You can install either led strips or fairy lights. And of course, you’ll need the design itself. We recommend taking a look at some of the patterns that are available for download. Like this picturesque Christmas scene on Etsy. By recreating a beautiful design and closely following the example, you’ll get a feel for the craft and the art of layering. And once you got the hang of it, you might want to try your hand at some Christmas shadow box ideas of your own!
Christmas shoebox diorama
The last Christmas diorama that we’ll cover here, is the shoebox diorama. Just like with the shadow box that we explained above, this involves creating a little world within the confines of a box. However, here you’ll be working with miniature items, much like the ones you would be using in a Christmas village. Like for instance a little house, some frosted trees, and a lil’ snowman. Unlike a Christmas village though, the bounds of the box limit your scene to relatively few elements. But just like with a scene in a Christmas movie, a focused framing can be a powerful storyteller.
Making a Christmas shoebox diorama can be a lovely way of displaying your Christmas village pieces when you haven’t collected quite enough of them to make an actual village just yet. The box framing can work to bring the elements together nicely, especially when you use the box lid to feature a backdrop. For example, you can print a beautiful winter landscape to immerse your little scene into a bigger scope. Or, if you have a scenic photo from a Christmas trip you took, you could use that as a backdrop to recreate a fond personal memory. Something as simple as a shoebox thus might just become one of your favorite Christmas decorations.
We’ve covered four of our favorite types of Christmas dioramas. Whether or not you’re big on Christmas, going small on your decorations is a great way of capturing a bit of that holiday magic. So, what mini winter wonderland will you create?