DIY Christmas Shadow Boxes: ideas, tips, and more!

This time of year always brings out the craftiness in me. I love Christmas and I love to create decor for my home as well as gifts for friends and family. I  just finished a series (4 blog posts) about making your own Christmas Ornaments. If you missed them, be sure to go back and check them out! There is nothing quite like decorating your tree and your home with your own handmade items. Family and friends will be astonished by your creativity! You might be saying to yourself, “I’m not crafty” or “I’m not creative” or “I can’t do that”. Well, I am here to tell you, yes you can! Some of the ideas I am going to share with you are very simple ideas. And you can always change them to meet your creative abilities and make them your own. You do not have to copy my ideas exactly … these are just ideas to spark your imagination and get your creative juices flowing. Have fun with it!

Let me start by showing you a few samples … these were all made with the same shadow box, which I purchased from Michaels.

The 3 Shadow Boxes above were made using an 8×8 black decorative Shadow Box I purchased from Michaels. These shadow boxes were very easy to make and I only needed a few supplies. I did use a cutting machine (Cricut Explore Air), so if you do not have a cutting machine, you would have to purchase a vinyl design from a craft store or from Etsy or use stickers. Here are some tips and info about these shadow boxes:

Let’s talk about the vinyl designs:

  • I purchased the graphic (svg) file for “Jingle all the way.” online a few years ago, and unfortunately it is no longer for sale, however, many other designers have created almost the same exact design, so just google “svg, Jingle all the way” and you will find one you can download or purchase. Etsy is also a good source.
  • The design for “Are you part of THE INN CROWD …” came from which allows you to download svg’s for free! They do, of course, accept donations.
  • For the “Away in a Manger” design, I just used different fonts within Cricut Design Space as well as a star from the Cricut images. I would share it with you but it is unfortunately not saved.
  • NOTE: If you do not have a cutting machine, no worries, you can purchase vinyl decals from Etsy and craft stores. Here is a link to purchase the “Jingle all the way” decal from an Etsy Shop. I am not affiliated in any way with the seller on Etsy, I just searched and found it. There are many vinyl decal sellers on Etsy.
  • Other option: use stickers. Stickers will probably not lay as smoothly and stick as well as vinyl, but most shadow boxes are placed inside on a shelf or hanging on the wall where they won’t be disturbed, so stickers will work for this project. However, note you will have to place each individual letter, so it’s a little more work.
  • One last note about the vinyl designs (those created on a cutting machine). I chose to put my designs on the outside of the glass, just because it’s easier. However, some people like to put them on the inside so you can clean the glass easily as needed. To do this, you would first have to “mirror” your design before cutting.

Let’s talk about what’s inside the box:

  • When you are making Christmas shadow boxes, there are so many possibilities with what you can put inside. You will see more of my examples below to get an idea, but use your own imagination and use things that you already have on hand if possible (if you are a crafter, you probably have boxes of goodies on hand!)
  • For the “Jingle” box, I simply cut a piece of scrapbook paper to fit in the background and taped it down with a tape runner. Then, after applying my vinyl design, I placed the various bells I chose inside the box, and then placed the backing on and secured it. Voila! So easy!
  • For the “INN CROWD” box, I used a Barnwood type piece of scrapbook paper for the background. When I cut the design using my Cricut, I cut the stable out of yellow cardstock and that is placed on the inside of the box (I used a few foam glue dots to secure it). The rest of the design is black vinyl which I adhered to the front of the glass. Finally, I used some straw I purchased from the craft store and laid it down in the bottom of the shadow box.
  • For the “Away in a Manger” box, it is similar to the last box, vinyl design on outside of the glass, Barnwood paper and hay on the inside. So simple but so cute!

In the photos above are two more examples or ideas for you! When I say “example” or “idea”, I mean you can totally copy it and do the same thing or you can take part of the idea (say the filling or the vinyl design) then make something similar, make it your own!

Tips and info on the above boxes:

  • I do not have an svg file links I can share with you for the these, but if you search “svg, Christmas Tree words” and “May your days be merry and bright”, you will get many you can use or you can create your own using Cricut Design Space.
  • The first box is just a square unfinished shadow box I had purchased at Michaels. I didn’t stain or paint it because I liked the rustic look, but you could sand it, then stain or paint it any color.
  • The second box is a larger 12×12 shadow box that is narrow in depth. These can be purchased from JoAnn.
  • The first box is simply filled with brightly colored ornaments that you can purchase from any craft store, Walmart, or the dollar store.
  • For the second box, I used blue glitter cardstock for the background and the little glittery decoration balls (from Hobby Lobby) in the bottom.
  • Note: if you do not have a cutting machine, you can fill a shadow box with ornaments or glittery balls and purchase a vinyl design or use stickers to create your own version of these.

Snow! Let it, Snow! Dashing through the Snow! Many Christmas or Winter themed shadow boxes involve fake snow. Even for those of us that live in the Sunshine state! These shadow boxes just portray the season so well and give us that “warm” holiday feeling inside and spark holiday memories that make us feel sentimental.

Tips and info on the above two boxes:

  • These two boxes are a little trickier to make, so I recommend these to people who have made other shadow boxes and those with cutting machines.
  • These shadow boxes are 8×10. I a not sure where I purchased these, but any 8×10 shadow box should work. Just keep in mind, you want one that you won’t have a problem putting the back on with the snow in the bottom.
  • For the first box (which was a gift), I used blue glittery cardstock for the background. The design was purchased online (just search “deer and trees” and you could easily find a similar design or you can create your own).
  • For the second box, I used a white piece of scrapbook paper with a silvery design I found at Hobby Lobby. The design was purchased on Etsy. The vinyl wording I created on Design Space.
  • Once again I adhered the vinyl designs to the outside of the glass, with an exception on the first box,  I wanted to create more depth on that one, so some of the trees are stuck to the cardstock inside as well as one of the deer.
  • The second box I added a sprig with snowy white balls to look like a tree (you can find these at most craft stores around the holidays).
  • The fake snow: you can find fake snow at any craft store, as well as Walmart or the dollar store. It comes in different textures, so pick what you like.


“Cardinals appear when Angels are near” … this is one of my favorite shadow boxes and many people have asked me questions about this one. So here are my tips and info on this one:

  • The shadow box is an 8×10 wooden shadow box I purchased at JoAnn. The depth is a little deeper than some of the other shadow boxes I have used which was needed so the bird would fit inside. I have not seen this shadow box at JoAnn anymore, but I believe you can get something very similar at Hobby Lobby.
  • I found this cute saying online and then created the vinyl wording on Cricut Design Space. I used red, black and gold vinyl (you can use 631 or 651). The font is Samantha Italic (a purchased font).
  • The background is a piece of white glittery cardstock. The red cardinal and the greenery, snowy sprig/branch were both purchased at Michaels. Here is where you can get creative, use what you have, or go browse at your local craft store and see what you can find to put in your shadow box with your bird.

“3 Wise Men on their journey” … this is my most recent shadow box I completed. This shadow box is different from every other shadow box I made because the “filling” is layers of cardstock designs, no vinyl, no wording. Here are some tips and info about this shadow box:

  • This design is a free design on Cricut Design Space. Here is the info if you have access to Design Space:
  • Wise Men Nativity Scene
  • #M907F67
  • Dimensional Scenes – Nativity
  • When I opened the design in Design Space, the first thing I did was size it to fit into my shadow box. This is one of the 8×8 boxes from Michaels. I made the design slightly smaller than 8″ to assure it would fit inside.
  • I did have to cut off the arch from each of the layers before placing them together and putting it in the shadow box, which was very easy to do.
  • I used a different color cardstock for each of the layers (basically 6 different shades of brown).
  • I attached each section to the layer in front using thick foam glue dots. See the photos below to see the progression of putting it together.
  • For the starry background, I used a shimmery piece of grayish cardstock I had on hand. I made a square in Design Space slightly smaller than 8″. Then using “shapes” in Design Space, I selected a star and I sized it how I wanted it to look. I made a few different size stars and just duplicated them. After you create all your stars where you want them, move your square out of the way and Select your stars and attach them together. Move the square back in place, then Select All, and do a slice. This will cut the star shapes out of your square.  Then you can cut your background design onto your cardstock and this will become the final layer of the shadow box design for your Wise Men shadow box.
  • The lights: I purchased a set of 15 mini lights from Hobby Lobby. I carefully taped a mini light behind each of the star openings.
  • Place your entire layered cardstock design into the shadow box. The battery box for the lights can hang out the bottom right or left side of the box. That way you have access to turn it on and off.

My Final Thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed looking at my Christmas Shadow Boxes and I hope the tips and info I shared are helpful to you. Remember that these are just examples and ideas to help spark your creativity! Some other ideas for phrases could include: “Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle”(fill with tinsel/garland) or how about “Christmas begins with Christ” or “Oh Holy Night (the Christmas Nativity Scene). I’d love to see what you come up with and create! Please share your creations under the comments of my blog post on my Pinterest page.  A final tip for this blog post: use Coupons! Michaels has a great Rewards program and you can sign up for free! They will email you and mail you coupons, use them when you purchase your shadow boxes! Sometimes, Michaels also will have great sales on their shadow boxes, like 50% off, so keep an eye on their ads. Hobby Lobby always has a 40% off coupon you can access and use from their website. You can also sign up for coupons from JoAnn. I pray you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas! If you enjoyed this article, give me a like and follow my blog to see more great craft how-to’s and ideas! Thanks for stopping by! ~Kristina~

22 thoughts on “DIY Christmas Shadow Boxes: ideas, tips, and more!

  1. Kristina, this is so cute! I expecially loved the part where you talked about the creativity imposter syndrome… Sometimes you can feel that you aren’t especially creative, but your post was very encouraging! I’m pinning these christmas ideas for later! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love all the different shadow box variations. I’ve made one before with ornaments but I love the jingle bell one. Time to dust off my machine and get cutting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your ideas. Could you tell me how to put the vinyl letter on the inside of the glass? It must be impossible because I can’t find one video on that process. I was trying to accomplish a smooth exterior.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kimberly! Thanks for checking out my blog and glad you like the ideas! To answer your question, to our vinyl on the inside of the glass, it is best to use frames or shadow boxes that fully open up so you have access to the glass (a flat surface to work with without anything blocking your way), make sense? When you are ready to cut your design or wording, you will need to “mirror” it so that it is backwards. That way, when you put it on the inside of glass it is facing the right way on the outside looking through. I’ll see if I can find you a video link.


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