Christmas Present Dioramas Up Close

Christmas present dioramas are more work than a simple bow but they’re also but more fun and way more interesting. You can make these holiday scenes to match the person you’re giving the gift to.


Yup!  It’s a surprise Tuesday post.   I wanted to give you a close up view of the Christmas wrapping I did this year and if I didn’t do it on a Tuesday (instead of when I regularly post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) I wasn’t going to be able to fit it in before Christmas.  If you read my post on Diorama Present Toppers a few weeks ago you know that I topped all of my presents with little winter scenes.  I only had a couple of them done at the time so I wanted show you how they all turned out, and how I got the look.



This is Betty’s present.  A skating rink and bench.  The figure skates are an ode to her Christmases past.   The snow on this present and on all the other presents is just regular spray snow that’s been allowed to dry.  The pond is hot glue.



I made the skates out of high rubber boots that were on a Bratz doll from Dollarama.  I just cut them off, painted them white and hot glued on some bent wire for skate blades.




The bench is a section from a miniature white picket fence from Dollarama.  I broke it apart and glued it back together in the form of a bench.  The fence also came with a tiny Christmas tree which I used on another present.



This is one of the original Diorama present toppers you saw earlier in the month.  The skis are made from popsicle sticks and I made the boot imprints in the snow with a potato stamp I carved.



Not all of the presents are entire scenes.  Some of them just feature a simple tree.  If you’re looking to make diorama present toppers but don’t want to spend all the time it takes to make skates (like a lunatic) then just adding a tree instead of a bow has almost as much impact.



But of course, it has a little more impact if you add in a truck with hay bale in the back.  The most important things with these dioramas are the little details. Like running the truck through the snow as soon as you spray snow it so you get tracks.  Without the tracks in the snow this present topper is good. WITH the tracks it’s enough to make a Restoration Hardware stylist spit carefully curated antique square head nails with jealousy.




Another one of the original present toppers I showed you a few weeks ago.  A black road with silver sparkles embedded into it.  On top of the car is the little tree that came with the picket fence.



This might be my favourite.  It’s a snowy scene with a flatbed truck making its way down a winding, snow plowed road to deliver a Christmas tree to a homestead. Complete with red mailbox.




This car was originally a firetruck, but having a firetruck racing towards a house at Christmas seemed like a slightly bad omen so I broke off the back of the firetruck with a pair of pliers, which resulted in a little flatbed.

I’ve never had so much fun wrapping Christmas presents in all my life.  Ever.

I feel myself filling with rage every time I think of someone opening them, so that might be a problem.  Other than that, I suspect it’s going to be a happy, happy holiday.


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Christmas Present Dioramas Up Close


  1. Patti says:

    I’m printing this post and saving it with my Christmas stuff so when it comes time to decorate my newborn grandson’s presents in years to come I’ll remember to do this… even if I decorate only one present like this it’s so special! Beautiful work Karen!

  2. LazySusan says:

    Awesome. As is your house. As are you. Merry Christmas!

  3. Tigersmom says:

    These are so amazing. Creativity and its need to be let out are often misunderstood by those who don’t have it. Girl, you have it.

    I take comfort in knowing you feel rage at the thought of your work being trashed, too.

    I have a question. (Big surprise, right?) Did the trees that are not shaped like Christmas trees come from the Dollarama and did they come like that or were they part of a larger spray that you cut down?

    Oh, and one more….how did you accomplish the black road with the sparkles embedded in it?

    I now have plans to do something like this next year with the two ceramic houses I found at an estate sale, but in a more permanent set-up and not on gifts because I would get enraged at their demise and that’s also a bad omen for Christmas, you know like a fire truck en route to a house.

    And I don’t work for Restoration Hardware, but I may have spit a few nails when I saw these.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tigersmom. Thanks! The regular trees are also from Dollarama and they came exactly as is. They’re GREAT! All I had to do was pull the branches out and fiddle with them a bit so they looked good. The road is black chalkboard paint. Before it dried completely I sprinkled silver sparkles over it so they embedded in the road. ~ karen!

  4. Tracie says:

    It’s my Mom’s birthday today, Karen, and I have to admit that I skipped over every post to make a comment tonight. I usually like to read them, but tonight I am having wine, and toasting my mom, and didn’t have time for that. I decided to take a break from uploading pics and remembrances, to have a gander at your post. I cried at your wrappings. The one with the tire tracks got me…and the skates, are you kidding me? And those footprints. And the skating rink, and the trees. Thank you, Karen, truly! Merry Christmas, and happy belated birthday to you….xo

  5. Laura Bee says:

    I made one! No time for more. But it was so much fun. Sorry about the terrible photo. My camera is a cheap one purchased by hubby to replace my really nice camera I dropped. Bah.!/ByElleBee/photos/a.680741355322752.1073741830.220912104639015/848857791844440/?type=1&theater

    • Karen says:

      I saw it in the Linkz. It looks GREAT!! I’m so jealous of your little trailer and car! Looks like a mini Cooper maybe? Anyhow it looks perfect! ~ karen

      • Laura Bee says:

        Thanks! It’s a Fiat – and the giftee & his wife own a trailer & Fiat. (Not that they go together in real life) Well, the fiat is more hers, but I wasn’t going to stick some big truck on there! lol

  6. Mindy says:

    LOL, I was thinking midway through, they’re too fun to open. They’ll be ruined!!! Clearly this is a problem. Maybe you should have made them decoy presents. Empty, awesomely wrapped boxes. The real presents are in the closet, wrapped up in newspaper.

  7. judy says:

    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww-This is so sweet and nostalgic and makes me think of those pictures of old that showed a real old fashioned American Christmas where children received warm mittens, and Hats and an orange and perhaps a candy cane or two. Oh-and a sled made by Dad would have been the height of the kids life. I have to be a scrooge and say that children can’t appreciate what they get when there is so much the floor is groaning. We started a tradition in our family of holding back a # of gifts because they ripped through them so quickly it took all the fun out of the moment. They complained but I think they kinda liked having some gifts throughout the day. Happy holidays to everyone. Karen has a wonderful group of followers-funny, witty and smart…………and probably all exceedingly good looking too!

  8. Linda G says:

    Wow, Karen! These are lovely, just like everything you do.

    Did you practice your techniques (the potato stamp in fake snow, in particular), or get everything right on the first take?

  9. Jane says:

    A bonus post! Love it! Thanks for the surprise.

    The gifts are beautiful!

  10. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    You are so creative Karen..don’t you ever change matter what anyone says..Who could receive a present like that and not get a big smile on their face?..before they even know what is inside..Why?..because you can girlfriend..

  11. Cindy G. says:

    Holy cow! I love this idea! But, I’d feel the same way about having folks rip open my carefully assembled scenes. Seeing the lidded box gives me the idea to put every gift in a box with a lid (maybe even wrapping the gift before I place it inside). That way, the scenes would be preserved and the gift recipient could keep it as part of the gift (or give it back to me!).

    Now, I want to put up a tree just so I can do this. Instead, I’ll have to settle for gathering up the supplies so I can try this when I do eventually have a spot for the tree!

  12. Wendy says:

    Umm. Aren’t you a little crazy?!? Don’t you need sleep?? It’s all so beautiful, but I’m in the “building groady gingerbread houses from a box with my kids” phase of my life. I’m at once jealous and awestruck and kind of wonder WHY? All at the same time.

    I say that, but I’m headed to my son’s grade 1 class to decorate Chanukkah cookies tomorrow. Today we will make the cookies. And the icing. After work. I don’t know what I’m making for dinner. I’m thinking wine will help.

    At any given time there is laundry, Pokemon cards, paper airplanes and random lego strewn about my house. The good news is, the laundry is usually clean.

    So, here’s my question: It looks like that because that’s your job, right? I mean, when you were a tv personality you couldn’t get all this done all the time, right? You did some of it, I reckon, but not all of it, right?

    Please tell me you’re not crazy and need no sleep.


    • Karen says:

      I almost hate to tell you this but I did indeed do all of this when I was a television host. And if anyone reading this used to work with me they’ll confirm it. We all say Why about what others do. When someone says they go on vacation 3 times a year I say Why. We all have the things we use our time for and for me it’s creating. Whether it’s projects, art, crafts or stories … I create. Am I crazy? To most people, yeah, lol. To me? Not so much. HAVE LATKES FOR DINNER HAVE LATKES FOR DINNER! Happy first night of Chanukah. ~ karen!

      • Wendy says:

        Latkes. Good plan. Is it okay to only serve latkes? I think that might be all I have the energy for.

        You’re right. I use my scant time for hockey lessons, knitting, reading, writing and keeping up with a couple of blogs.

        I don’t really think you’re crazy. Happy Chanukah yourself! Thanks for your style, your humour, and for getting back to me.


      • Karen says:

        Um. Yes you can have only latkes! In fact, as far as I’m concerned you could have only latkes for the next week. (I mean providing you have sour cream or hot sauce or something else to dip them in). I was gonna make pasta tonight but I think it might have a latke diversion. Or Kugel. Or Latkes. Or Kugel. ~ karen!

  13. Bethany Jones says:

    I just had a craftgasm.

  14. Wendy W says:

    These are awesome! Maybe next year I’ll have the time (If I start in October…LOL!)

  15. Suanne says:

    Would LOVE to do this, but with 5 kids, 19 grandkids and their spouses (if married), 7 great-grandkids, 3 nieces, 1 nephew, 3 brothers/sister and their spouses, mother, 3 church friends, 4 coworkers, and SEVERAL boyfriends/girlfriends that the grandkids bring along…’s all I can do to get the gifts purchased/made and wrapped before I drop. Next year I will start earlier….next year I will start earlier….next year I will start earlier……….(really enjoyed looking at them though. AWESOME!)

  16. Cred says:

    These are so lovely! But I’m lucky if I have all my gifts bought, made or stolen at this point. Yikes! Crunch time….

  17. Kim from Milwaukee says:

    Those are adorable Karen!!! I would be the person afraid to open my present for fear of ruining the pretty little snowy scene, though. And I’m sure my cats would gnaw on those little trees and bat at the tiny truck and hay bale. Yeah, I’m definitely not going to be doing this to my gifts anytime soon…I’d have to hire a guard dog to keep them intact!

    And the older I get, the less effort I want to put into making stuff….cakes and decorations and wrappings….nope, they’re just not worth it unless someone takes a picture before it gets destroyed. Just breaks my heart.

  18. I dont think i could do all that hard work then give it away for people to toss. I might need to get some boxes and do it on there though. Decorative ones for around my home or for gifts but that could be reused….
    To the dollarama!

    Where did you get the kraft box the green truck is on?

  19. Teresa Jennings Richardson says:

    When our oldest son was a child, I wrapped all his presents to look like a train, complete with an engine, several cars and a caboose. He loved looking at the train so much, he didn’t want to open any thing at first. But when he discovered that even the salt box I used to make the smoke stack on the engine also held a treasure, he carefully unwrapped each feature. It was one of his favorite Christmas memories. Seeing your dioramas reminds me of that Christmas and him. I also made a Christmas wreath out of dollars one year for my mom. She never had cash on hand and could not drive anymore, but liked to have a little something on hand to give a grandchild or great grandchild. She loved to be able to go to her bedroom and pull a dollar or two off the give the lucky little visitor. She often said it was one of her favorite gifts because it was the gift that kept on giving. I also taped dollars together one year to use as wrapping paper for my youngest son and he still talks about it. We don’t remember what the gift was anymore–only the wrapping paper which a driving teenager required to pay for his own gas appreciated a lot. I too love doing the unusual and different to be memorable. Love your ideas.

  20. Feral Turtle says:

    Okay, I am thinking you have too much time on your hands…..and I am totally going to copy you and do this for the Christmas draw this year. This is just so fun Karen!! Cheers.

  21. That truck with the hay bale in it is surely mine. Mine, mine, MINE! It’s all pretty funtastical.

  22. martha says:

    Karen, Once again you have impressed us all! So creative and fun. Love the inspiration I get from you. Headed to the Dollar Tree!

  23. Ellen Crawley says:

    Love these! You are a woman after my own heart. People sometimes say to me (after receiving some awesome, incredibly time comsuming to make gift), “Wow, that’s great. You have too much time on your hands.” I just hate that. I guess its their way of making an excuse for not taking 10 hours to do something that could be done (much less awesomely) in one hour. But I love making stuff that tends to be detailed and I’m not judging them for not doing the same. Anyway, I guess that’s just the way it is. I wish people would just enjoy the gift, appreciate the effort and know that a big part of the fun for me is giving it to them. (Sorry, kind of got off on a rant there.) I love your stuff and that you share it with all of us. Thanks.

    • Cred says:

      I hate this too, Ellen. It doesn’t happen often, usually I find people are mostly in awe of things I’ve invested a good deal of attention to. But it’s been said a few times and it irks me, too. People waste hours on social media but if you make something with your hands instead of buying it, you’ve wasted your time. If only you had purchased a mass produced over-packaged item, just think of the hours you could have spent on Instagram. ; )

    • Deb J. says:

      I am so with you! I get the ‘too much time’ comment too and I hate it. I have time and creativity – why shouldn’t I use it? Some day I might just start greeting gifts with ‘You have too much money on your hands’. Suspect I wouldn’t get many more:)

    • Karen says:

      No problem Ellen. I appreciate the rant. People like you and I get the “You must have too much time on your hands” comment all the time. The truth is there are the exact same number of hours in everyone’s day and we all choose to spend our hours the way we want. ~ karen!

  24. Mary Werner says:

    Karen you really are wonderfully creative. I love the potato prints in the snow. They are all so cute.

  25. Ev Wilcox says:

    Loved the Tuesday treat! Think my favorite was the footprints through the snow. It would be hard to see these dioramas ruined. Maybe I would top all the boxes with white cardboard and glue it down first, and then assemble the dioramas on that, so everything could be saved. Thanks for the great photos Karen!

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