How to Make a Shoebox Nativity Diorama

Make your own nativity scene diorama for a Christmas decoration in your home. The scene of the birth of Christ is a story and image that most people will recognise, so as long as you include the figures of Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the manger, people will know what it is when they see your diorama. Use a shoebox as the "stage" for your nativity diorama and use basic craft materials to assemble the three-dimensional scene.

Draw 2-inch-tall people and animals to scale on a piece of heavy poster board. Draw the figures of baby Jesus in the manger, all in one figure, along with Joseph, Mary and the three wise men. Draw some sheep, goats and camels to put in and around the barn. Colour the people and animals with fine tip markers or coloured pencils. Use a painting or other image of the nativity as a reference for how many people to make and what they should look like. Cut out the people and animals with sharp scissors.

Lie a shoebox on its side and paint the inside with black or dark blue acrylic paint for the night sky. Add some swirly clouds in various spots in the sky with a slightly lighter shade of blue. Add white dots for the sky and paint one large star near the upper right corner of the back of the shoebox. This represents the star that led the three wise men.

Assemble a simple 2 1/2-inch-tall structure with 1/4-inch-thick sticks that you found outside. This is the barn that will be the main setting for the nativity scene. Glue the sticks together to form three 3-inch-wide walls and a 3-inch-wide ceiling with hot glue. Glue them together and glue the bottoms of the walls to the middle of the shoebox.

Glue thin bunches of craft grass to the sides of the barn and in a few spots along the "ground" with hot glue.

Run a 1/2-inch-long bead of hot glue in each spot where a person or animal will be positioned. Place the bottom edge of each figure on the glue facing toward the opening of the box and hold each one standing for three minutes to give the glue a chance to harden and hold the figure up. Use the image as a reference for where each figure should go. Wait 30 minutes for the glue to dry and move the nativity diorama where you want to put it on display.

Things You'll Need

  • Poster board
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Fine-tipped markers
  • Coloured pencils
  • Scissors
  • Shoebox
  • Paint brush
  • Acrylic paints
  • Sticks
  • Hot glue gun
  • Craft grass
  • Craft glue
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Angela Neal is a writer for various websites, specializing in published articles ranging from the categories of art and design to beauty and DIY fashion. Neal received her Associate of Arts in administrative assisting from Bohecker College.