Monday, December 6, 2010

Making the Nativity the Center of Christmas

Last week I began sharing some Christmas ideas out of my fat file. I will continue to share some more ideas this week and next as one of the questions I got asked in the Q&A post was: What are some fun, memorable ways you have taught your kids the true meaning of Christmas, Easter, etc? So Candace these posts are especially for you. And the rest of you who left questions, they will eventually become future blog posts too.

I like to give the nativity prominence among our Christmas decorations as a way to remind us what Christmas is really about. Below are 7 ideas to help make the nativity the center of Christmas:

1. Collect nativity scenes and put one in each room. This one below is from Guatemala. And when we travel to Ethiopia in January, we will look for another nativity to bring home.

This year Brooke's chorus from school sang at the Community Christmas Celebration at the Church of Latter Day Saints on Six Forks Rd. This is where school, community and church choirs perform musical pieces. But in the back of the room where the kids perform, you can view over 300 nativities from around the world. It was just amazing to me. . .to go around and look at how each country depicted the manger scene and what materials were used. It may be worth a call to see if the nativities are still up and if you and your kids could stop by. The collection is a sweet reminder that Jesus was born for all mankind, not just us Americans.

2. Get nativities that even your youngest can play with. Check out Little People & Playmobil Nativity Sets. I saw where Target now carries the Little People starter set.

3. Each year as a family, make a nativity set. Use play dough, cardboard, last year’s Christmas cards, etc. These will become cherished family possessions. Here's part of one Anna and I made out of wooden shapes when she was 3 years old; she is now 13!

4. Put a nativity under the tree to remind you and your family that Jesus really is the best gift we could ever get.

5. Act out the Christmas Story with impromptu props and costumes. Read the account of Christ’s birth from the Bible. Start with Luke 1:1 and when you get to Luke 1:56, go to Matthew 1:18 and read to Matthew 1:25. Return to Luke and read Luke 1:57 until Luke 2:38, and jump back to the entire chapter of Matthew 2.

6. We have never done this but a girlfriend "builds" her nativity as the days approach Christmas. On the first Sunday of Advent, her family puts out the stable. The following Sunday, they add the animals to the manger scene. The 3rd Sunday, they put out the shepherds and the sheep at a distant location as well as Mary and Joseph and a donkey at another distant location. On the 4th Sunday, they move Mary and Joseph closer to the stable and the wisemen and camels are placed in a distant location. On Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph are placed in the stable with the star and angels. Right before bed, baby Jesus is placed in the manger. The shepherds and sheep are brought closer. On Christmas Day and after, the wisemen and their camels come to worship Jesus and are placed closer to the scene.

If you did not want to "build" the nativity over the days leading up to Christmas, you could use the nativity pieces to act out the Christmas story using the verses from the Bible mentioned above.

I have also heard of families setting up the entire nativity except for baby Jesus and then putting him in the manger after Christmas Eve services or Christmas morning.

7. Leave a nativity up all year round. Because Jesus' birth is really just the beginning of the story. I have a girlfriend whose Mom leaves her Fontanini nativity set up all year round. I love this set because it is grown up, but not breakable. This is not a picture of my girlfriend's mom's nativity, but it looks similar to this. Sonya, do you have a picture of your mom's set you can send me?

What idea would you add to list? I need 3 more to make it an even 10 ideas! I'd love for you to shoot me an email or leave a comment letting me know how you place focus on the nativity at Christmas. And for more Christmas ideas from my fat file, click here.


  1. Su, this post reminded me of when Dad and I stayed with Anna and David while Brooke was being born. We played "nativity" many times during those couple of days. Dad and I each had to act out a part, and Anna's dolls and stuffed animals were the angles and shepherds. Beautiful & cherished memories! -Mom

  2. I'll try to get you a picture of Mom's nativity. My 6 year old loves playing with it year-round. It's not breakable and she rearranges it every chance she gets. My parents love it because the kids can touch it, it looks real and we 'collect' new pieces each year, both for their set and for our set at home. The Fontanini pieces are affordable (especially when on sale) and each piece comes with a story about that character. It's like a magnet for kids at my parents' home - they love it and it is a great teaching tool. I'll get you a photo, Su.

  3. Not sure how long the sale is (or the availability of the prodcut), but Family Christian has their Little People Nativity on sale for 29.99 and they have coupons in their flier for 25% off anything including sale items. I just got the flier Thursday

  4. The Cates' mantel has a lovely nativity from Guatemala. Sam remembered the box and unpacked it so gently, talking about J-boy the entire time, recalling the stories of his adoption and God's grace. Amazing what kids absorb and then recall. Thanks for sharing God's provision with our family and giving us the memories. We love ya'll. S-

  5. Another idea- to make your 10-list. A friend pulls out one piece of the nativity per day as Christmas approaches, baby Jesus being the last "to arrive". You already said this, but the twist is that my friend has younger children and she HIDES the nativity piece, leaving a note with clues for the children. This is their family activity for the evening, to find the nativity piece and then they read about that character or imagine what type of journey was made to Bethlehem. -Sonya

  6. We actually put our Nativity scene out December 1st, except for Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. Mary and Joseph start out in our bedroom upstairs and each day travel somewhere else in the house making their way to the manger scene. Each day, the kids wake up and have to find where Mary and Joseph have traveled before they get that days advent treat. Then on Christmas eve they make it to the nativity manger scene. On Christmas Day, Jesus is in the manger in the scene and a birthday cake for Him is beside this. Last year, on camera our daughter is seen then age 3 running in to find baby Jesus and His birthday cake long before she cared about her presents under the tree. It was awesome. -CC

  7. We pull out our boxes of Christmas decorations and the first one we open and put up is the nativity. We remind the kids, or by now they remind us, the reason that we put that one up first, because that is the reason for Christmas. We talk about that without Jesus Christ there is no Christmas, it is just "mas". Love all of your ideas.

  8. A friend of mine had a cool idea on her FB page - instead of an Elf on the Shelf, she is moving Mary and Joseph every night and attached is a note about what Advent activity or something similar they will do that day. They are on their journey to Bethlehem. I love this idea, especially combined with Advent scripture or story or act of service.


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