Homemade Nativity Set

11.30.2011

One of our most favorite things to do together each December is to make (and give away) 
a homemade nativity set.
 First, I thought I'd share the one we made two years ago when my oldest was just 3. 

Each of the main characters are made from a plastic dixie cup for the body, a painted wooden ball for the head, and popsicle sticks for the arms.  We use various scrap materials, ribbons and embellishments from our craft supplies for their clothing.  The sheep are made from crafting pom poms and sticks. 

The one that looks more like a sacrificial lamb is actually one my daughter decided to give some "red hair" because she wanted it to look like a girl sheep. :) 
Hey, it's all about artistic freedom, right?  We all had a good chuckle over it, anyway.

The angel was made from a wooden ball glued onto a pine cone and decorated with fancy ribbons.

Here was the finished set (minus Mary, who was mysteriously MIA for the photo op).

The donkey is our favorite part of the set each year!  We make him from an empty toilet paper roll and a brown pom pom.  We cover him in brown felt, glue on facial features, ears, a saddle and a rope (so Joseph can lead him along on the way to Bethlehem!). 

The baby Jesus was made from a tiny plastic craft doll we found at Michaels.  We just glued on his swaddling clothes and he was ready to be laid in our twig-manger.  We also positioned Mary's arms closer so she could actually hold baby Jesus, which the kids enjoyed.

This set was the first one we ever did, and since my daughter was only 3, it was our crudest.  But I love to see how our sets have changed over the years as artistic abilities have also improved. 

A homemade set like this takes us a few weeks of working on and off to complete, and during that time, the kids always have lots of time to play with it themselves. 

As you can see, we made a stable too (out of a deconstructed cardboard box). 
When we were done, we snuggled each character carefully into a gift box padded with paper fill, and we wrapped it up (we stuck the stable in a large gift bag).

At Christmas, the kids presented it to their grandparents, who, as you can imagine, were completely delighted, and have continued to display it each Christmas season.  This means my kiddos get to see and play with it over and over when they visit, and they remember how special it was to make and give a homemade gift.

Last year, we made a new set (to give to the other set of grandparents) but it never got finished in time!  So, we're finishing that up now, so it's ready to go, and in between, we're working on a whole new kind of nativity set, which I'll share with ya a bit later.

Here is last year's set (as you can see, we're missing the 3 kings):

Isn't it just too precious? 

Our Mary was covered in felt and so was a bit plumper than the first year (but she DID just have a baby, so it's OK). 

We also got smarter, and cut out part of the plastic dixie cup under Mary's dress so she could actually SIT on the donkey and stay! 

This little set has been floating around the house for an entire year, played with on and off by THREE kiddos, and although a couple of the cups are cracked underneath, it has held up remarkably well.

I hope this post has inspired you to do some handmade gift-making and giving with your kiddos this season! 
If so, grab your glue gun and craft supplies and get going--you've got just over 3 weeks!

And if you plan on making a dixie cup set like ours, please let me know if you have any specific questions and I'll be happy to help ya if I can!

Also, if you don't think you'll ever be able to make a complete nativity set in a few week's time, why not just work with your kiddos to make a Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus to gift to someone special?  Next year, you could do a few more characters and build the set that way...then each Christmas season, your loved ones will look forward to seeing their homemade set grow a bit more!

Happy Holiday Crafting with your kiddos!

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