How to Build Your Own Outdoor Silhouette Nativity Scene

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When it comes to lawn decorations, a DIY outdoor nativity scene can be the perfect way to make your home look festive without breaking the bank by purchasing a premade outdoor nativity set from the store. Opting for a silhouette Christmas nativity scene rather than three-dimensional figurines for the Christmas season is a fun DIY project that is easier to store at the end of the season.


You don't need to be a woodworking expert to make this wooden nativity scene. All you'll need is some creativity and enthusiasm, plus a few basic supplies that you can buy at your local crafts or hardware store.

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Gather your supplies and follow this step-by-step tutorial to craft the DIY nativity scene for your front yard.

Things You'll Need

  • Pressure-treated plywood

  • Sharpie marker

  • Projector (optional)

  • Handsaw or jigsaw

  • Sander or sandpaper

  • Exterior latex paint

  • Paint roller and paintbrush

  • Flat landscape stakes

  • Exterior screws

Build the Outdoor Nativity Scene

1. Design the nativity scene

Determine the kind of pattern you want to use for your nativity scene silhouette. A manger and a frame with a star at the top can be enough to set the scene. If you have a little extra time, choose a pattern that includes Mary and Joseph for the whole holy family.


You can include plenty of additional figures for more elaborate scenes. Consider options such as:

  • Angels
  • Sheeps and cows
  • Wise men
  • Shepherds

Alternatively, you can start small for your initial silhouette, then add more figures each year.


If you're feeling daring, you can draw your own patterns for the shapes. Otherwise, there are plenty of patterns and templates to choose from on the internet.

2. Gather your supplies

You'll craft your silhouettes from pressure-treated plywood with thicknesses between 1/4 inch and 3/4 inch. A thinner piece of plywood takes less time to saw and sand, while thicker plywood is more durable in winter weather and therefore more likely to survive through many years of Christmases. You may even be able to use scrap wood for some of the smaller patterns, assuming the scraps are in good condition.


A jigsaw and palm sander will expedite the process of preparing your figures, but if you're willing to be patient, you can get by with just a hand saw and some sandpaper. To finish the silhouettes, you need black or white exterior latex paint with a semi-gloss finish, along with a paint roller for the flat surfaces and a paintbrush for the edges.



Each figure in your nativity will also need at least one flat wooden landscape stake, again pressure-treated to ensure longevity, and exterior screws to attach the stakes to the figures.


Using higher quality materials, including plywood and paint, may be more costly initially, but makes the nativity scene more durable so you can enjoy it for years to come.

3. Transfer the pattern to the plywood

If you have a projector, you can project a pattern onto the plywood and trace it with a Sharpie marker. Otherwise, use carbon paper or paper silhouettes and trace them onto the plywood, making sure to use firm lines.


4. Cut out the silhouettes

Cut out the pattern using a jigsaw and follow the marker line you drew in the previous step. Make the big cuts first to clear excess plywood, then go back for the detail work later.



You can also use a handsaw to cut out the pattern if you don't have a jigsaw.

5. Sand the edges of the silhouettes

Sand the rough edges of the plywood, a necessary step to ensure that your paint holds. If you have a palm sander, smooth out the front and back sides of the plywood to prepare it for the paint.

Paint and Finish the Silhouettes

1. Paint the nativity scene silhouette cutouts

Apply primer to the silhouette, then paint two solid coats on either side, using a paint roller. When it's dry on both sides, go back with a paintbrush and paint two coats along the edges.

3. Assemble the nativity scene

Place your stake flush against the back of the silhouette and screw it in with at least three screws. And voila! Without spending much money, you'll have a gorgeous silhouette nativity scene to grace your yard for many years to come.

Enjoy Your New Yard Decoration

Making your own nativity scene takes a bit of time and with some basic materials, you can assemble a beautiful scene to add to your yard decorations. Simplify the process by purchasing or downloading patterns for the scene or if you prefer, make your own. Transfer the patterns to plywood and cut out and paint each element before staking them in your yard.



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