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How to paint window Christmas scenes

Updated March 23, 2017

Window Christmas scenes are an alternative to Christmas lawn ornaments, but sometimes people are afraid to attempt this artistic endeavour, thinking it is beyond their skill level. However, the process of decorating windows is actually quite simple, involving just a quick trip to the craft store. Window painters recommend craft paint over tempera, because it is less runny, however, either type of paint can be used.

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  1. Use household window cleaner, a squeegee and paper towels to clean the windows. Do not use any cleaner that says it will repel dust; this will also repel paint.

  2. Sketch your window design on a piece of paper, or, if confident in your drawing abilities, simply freehand the painting. Think of a theme: religious, Frosty the Snowman, or Santa, for examples.

  3. Pour the paint colours into plastic bowls. If you are using tempera, it is important to note that the paint will run if exposed to rain. So apply tempera paints on the inside of the windows, unless there is an awning protecting the windows. If you are using acrylic craft paint, you can paint the inside or outside of the windows. Remember to apply the design backward if painting the inside, so it will be seen properly from the outside.

  4. Clean the plastic bowls and the brushes with regular tap water and any mild soap.

  5. Remove the paint after the season is over by spraying the design with water and letting it sit for a minute. Scrape it off with a credit card or utility knife.

  6. Tip

    If using tempera paint, always buy from the same manufacturer and buy new every year to avoid flaking. If you are creating a complicated design, you can draw it on butcher paper first, then tape it to the inside of the window and trace over it on the exterior side with paint.


    Do not use craft paints that are marked "glass paint"; these paints are permanent. Use acrylic craft paints, which note on the label that they are for use on wood and paper products. The acrylic craft paints will not note on the label that they are for use on windows, but as long as the paints are acrylic and water-based, the paints are OK to use.

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Things You'll Need

  • Household window cleaner
  • Squeegee and paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Artist's paint brushes, in various sizes. Include one ½-inch flat and one small detail brush
  • Acrylic craft paint or tempera paint
  • Plastic bowls for paint colours
  • Mild soap, such as dish soap or bar soap
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Credit card or utility knife

About the Author

Margaret Dilloway's debut novel, "How to be an American Housewife," is out now and her second, "The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns," will be published in August 2012. She has been a writer for more than 10 years and has written for publications such as "San Diego Family Magazine" and the Huffington Post. Dilloway holds a B.A. from Scripps College.

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