I started out with your basic cube. Then subdividing and cutting it in half, I added a mirror modifier and a subsurface modifier. Then using extrude, scale, and grab I modeled it further into the beginning shape you see here. I'm referencing it off of the picture that I have set to the background in orthographic perspective. I have my default Blender screen set up a bit different then the standard setup. I like having the timeline and dope sheet out with the camera preview in the bottom right. Just makes my animation flow better, I guess I could make a better setup just for modeling, some day.
Here is Santa Claus with a little more finished. Here I started adding color to the mesh and playing with the specular settings to get the clothes and skin to look right. Shinier for metal and dull for clothes. At this point the mesh is still only half as I have not applied the mirror modifier. Shortly after this I had a crazy issue that caused about an hour of confusion. Some how I managed to set the origin of the model to some bizarre location which in turn caused the model to mirror on his back. After figuring it out and changing the origin it made things a little weird but I was able to finish the project with minimal stress.
Here is the scene that I had setup for the final render. I made a little "north pole" looking object to add some depth. The plane on the ground was setup to look like snow. I did some playing around in the world tab. I set the sky to be dark blue with some stars to make it look like snow is falling a little bit.
Here is the final render. It is nothing to crazy but it took me a while and I really like how it turned out. I need to work on setting up the scene a little better in the future. I've got Santa Claus rigged up, I might do some animations with him later on. I found a really simple model on the Blend Swap website, that someone made. I downloaded it and started adding some color and rigging for some fun later on. Here is what I got so far on that project.
The model was made by Artboy92, he did a pretty good job! I can't wait to mess with this some more. Seriously though, go to Blend Swap and look around, there are some really good models there if you don't feel like making your own. I'm going to start focusing on Roundy's Adventure from here on out. I need to get cracking on that. I'll keep posting some "spare time" fun projects from time to time, but it will mostly be game design. I feel like I have enough knowledge to start seriously working on it.