Create a Stunning Christmas Nativity Scene: Step-by-Step Guide

Published On: March 1, 20222 Comments on Create a Stunning Christmas Nativity Scene: Step-by-Step GuideTags: , Last Updated: May 17, 202413.8 min read

Are you ready to create a stunning nativity scene that will capture the magic of Christmas? Look no further! In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to bring the story of the birth of Jesus to life with a magnificent display. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced decorator, these tips and tricks will help you craft a truly memorable scene that will leave your guests in awe.

From selecting the perfect nativity figures to arranging them in a meaningful way, we’ll walk you through each stage of the process. We’ll also share suggestions on lighting, props, and background to enhance the ambiance and create a truly enchanting atmosphere.

With our expert guidance and attention to detail, your nativity scene will be the centerpiece of your Christmas decorations. Let your imagination soar as you create a magical display that celebrates the true meaning of Christmas. Get ready to spread joy and wonder this holiday season with your exquisite nativity scene!DIY Christmas nativity scene

Nowadays nativity scenes in homes are rare, but we think that is an important part of Christmas tradition and we want to encourage you to setup Christmas nativity scene in your home this Christmas.

The History and Significance of Nativity Scenes

Nativity scenes have been a cherished tradition for centuries, depicting the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem. This timeless tableau serves as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas and the hope and joy that the birth of Jesus brings. The tradition of creating nativity scenes can be traced back to the 13th century, when Saint Francis of Assisi is believed to have staged the first live nativity scene in Italy.

Since then, nativity scenes have evolved to become an integral part of Christmas celebrations around the world. They come in various forms, from intricate wooden carvings to simple figurines made of clay or porcelain. Regardless of the style or material, nativity scenes serve as a visual representation of the Christmas story, allowing us to reflect on the humble beginnings of our Savior.

outdoor Christmas nativity scene

Planning Your Nativity Scene Display

Before diving into the actual setup, it’s crucial to plan your nativity scene display. Start by considering the available space in your home or yard. Measure the area where you plan to set up the scene to ensure that it will fit comfortably without overwhelming the surroundings. Consider the height and width of the display to ensure that it is proportionate to the space.

Next, think about the overall theme or style you want to achieve. Do you prefer a traditional nativity scene with classic figures and a rustic backdrop? Or perhaps you’re more inclined towards a modern interpretation with sleek, minimalist designs. Whatever your preference, having a clear vision in mind will guide your choices when selecting the nativity figures, props, and decorations.

Lastly, consider the practical aspects of the display. Will you need to ensure the scene is child-friendly, with durable and non-breakable figures? Will you be displaying the scene indoors or outdoors? Take these factors into account when planning your nativity scene to ensure a smooth and enjoyable setup process.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Nativity Scene

Selecting the perfect location for your nativity scene is crucial to create a visually stunning display. Whether you choose to set it up indoors or outdoors, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind.

If you plan to display the scene indoors, choose a prominent location such as the living room, entryway, or fireplace mantle. These areas tend to be the focal points of a house and will ensure that your nativity scene receives the attention it deserves. Consider the available space and the overall aesthetic of the room when deciding on the precise location.

For outdoor displays, select an area that is visible from the street or main entrance of your home. This will allow your nativity scene to serve as a warm and inviting welcome to visitors and passersby. Ensure that the display is protected from the elements, especially if you live in an area prone to inclement weather. Consider using a sturdy and weather-resistant backdrop to shield the scene from wind, rain, or snow.

No matter where you choose to set up your nativity scene, make sure it is easily accessible for maintenance and viewing. Avoid placing it in areas with high foot traffic or where it may be accidentally bumped or knocked over.

nativity scene in Italy

Selecting the Nativity Scene Figures

The nativity scene figures are the heart and soul of your display, so selecting the right ones is crucial. There are countless options available, ranging from traditional to modern interpretations. Consider the following factors when choosing your nativity figures:

  1. Material: Nativity figures are commonly made from materials such as wood, porcelain, resin, or clay. Each material offers a unique aesthetic and durability. Wooden figures lend a rustic charm, while porcelain figures exude elegance. Consider the overall style of your display and choose figures that complement it.
  1. Size: The size of the figures will depend on the available space and the desired visual impact. Larger figures work well as focal points, while smaller ones allow for more intricate arrangements. It’s important to ensure that the figures are proportionate to each other and the backdrop.
  1. Detail and Craftsmanship: Pay attention to the level of detail and craftsmanship in the nativity figures. Look for well-crafted features, expressive faces, and intricate designs. These details will elevate the overall quality and visual appeal of your display.
  1. Inclusivity: Consider adding a diverse range of figures to your nativity scene to reflect the universality of the Christmas story. Look for figures that represent different cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. This inclusivity will make your nativity scene more relatable and welcoming to all.

Once you have chosen your nativity figures, experiment with different arrangements to find the most visually appealing composition. Don’t be afraid to get creative and add elements that enhance the narrative, such as animals, shepherds, or angels.

Setting Up the Backdrop and Scenery

The backdrop and scenery play a crucial role in setting the mood and ambiance of your nativity scene. They provide a visual context for the figures and help transport viewers to the humble stable in Bethlehem. Here are some ideas to consider when setting up the backdrop and scenery:

  1. Traditional Stable: Create a classic nativity scene by using a wooden stable as the backdrop. You can either purchase a pre-made stable or get creative and build one yourself using materials like wood, cardboard, or even foam board. Pay attention to the scale and ensure that the stable is proportionate to the nativity figures.
  1. Modern Interpretation: If you prefer a more contemporary look, consider using a minimalist backdrop or a simple fabric panel. Solid-colored backdrops, such as a rich blue or deep purple, can create a striking contrast against the figures and draw attention to the scene.
  1. Scenic Elements: Enhance the visual appeal of your nativity scene by adding scenic elements such as rocks, moss, or hay. These simple additions can add texture and depth to the display, making it more visually engaging. Consider incorporating elements that reflect the natural surroundings of Bethlehem, such as palm trees or desert plants.
  1. Complementary Decorations: To further enhance the ambiance, consider adding complementary decorations such as twinkling lights, faux snow, or starry backdrops. These small touches can elevate the overall visual impact of your nativity scene and create a truly magical display.

Remember to keep the backdrop and scenery in proportion to the nativity figures to maintain a balanced composition. Experiment with different arrangements and decorative elements until you achieve the desired effect.

Lighting and Ambiance for Your Nativity Scene

Proper lighting can transform your nativity scene into a captivating display that evokes a sense of wonder and awe. Thoughtfully chosen lighting can enhance the ambiance and draw attention to key elements of the scene. Consider the following tips when lighting your nativity scene:

  1. Warm and Soft Lighting: Opt for warm and soft lighting to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Avoid harsh or bright lights that can distract from the nativity figures. Use warm-white string lights or small LED candles to softly illuminate the scene.
  1. Spotlighting: Draw attention to the central figures, such as baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, by using spotlights or small accent lights. These focused lights can create a beautiful halo effect, highlighting the most important elements of the scene.
  1. Layered Lighting: Consider using multiple sources of light to add depth and dimension to your nativity scene. Combine overhead lighting with accent lights to create a layered effect. Experiment with different angles and intensities to find the most flattering lighting setup.
  1. Lighting Controls: To create a truly magical display, consider using lighting controls such as dimmers or timers. Dimming the lights can create a softer and more intimate ambiance, while timers can automatically turn on the lights at dusk, ensuring that your nativity scene is always beautifully lit.

Always prioritize safety when lighting your nativity scene. Use LED lights, which generate less heat and are more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. Ensure that all electrical connections are secure and avoid overloading circuits.

Christmas nativity scene in home

Instructions for making DIY Christmas nativity scene

There are many ready-made Christmas nativity sets in the stores but we think that joy of making your own nativity scene can’t be replaced even with the most expensive set from the store. In the following text we will give you instructions for DIY stable which anyone can build in their home without any professional help. First you need to gather supplies like branches, twigs, eucalyptus and redwood bark, some palm fronds maybe, but it doesn’t really matter because you can use any type of wood you can find. Beside that you will need a piece of plywood for the base. For this project we used 6×8 inches piece of plywood but you can use what ever size you want. We advise you to cut the plywood with jigsaw for a nice clean cut. The front support are 12 inch branches which are glued to the base and secured with wood screws from the bottom. The strong bark was used to connect the front support branches but you can use what ever you can find. We connected it with staple gun but you can use wood screws also, but first drill the holes for the screws because otherwise the branch may crack.  The two rear side supports are also 12 inch tall and glued and secured from the bottom with wood screws. The center rear support is taller and it is about 14 inch.  Cut the end of the center support at an angle to accommodate the roof.

Christmas creche base


Our center support had a hole in it which inspired us to take apart an old 15 watt lamp and insert the cord but it is also easy to drill a hole for a light.  Make sure the bulb clears everything by an inch or so because it heats up when it is on for a longer period of time. On the picture below you can see how the cord is stapled down the center rear support.

Christmas nativity scene

Now it is time to put the roof and the rear panel of the stable. For the roof we used two masonite boards but you can use plywood or whatever you can find. Make the right plank a little wider to overlap the left and glue it in place with wood glue. Also cut and glued strips of plywood on the base between the supports. In the back also glue a plywood strip towards the roof. We ripped and glued strips of grassy palm tree to each side of the roof but you can use straw or whatever material you want to get the look you want. If you choose to use palm tree strips keep in mind that you have to put a little weight on it and leave the glue to dry over night. Bits of bark are glued to the front and glued to fill any loose strands of roof.

Christmas nativity scene stable

The back wall is made of  twigs cut to fit between the ply-board strips and glued in place. The horizontal, twirly twigs along the back are just for looks. The twig rails on the sides and the twig decorations is provisional and you don’t have to copy them, you can make whatever you like best. All you have to do now is to put some straw to cover the plywood and to arrange figurines and your Christmas nativity scene is completed. Some people like to add details to their scenes and most common ones are pathways, creeks, boulders, grass, trees etc. but that is up to your imagination.

Christmas nativity scene

Adding Finishing Touches and Decorative Elements

To elevate your nativity scene to the next level, consider adding finishing touches and decorative elements. These small but impactful additions can enhance the overall aesthetic and create a more immersive experience. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

  1. Faux Foliage: Integrate natural elements such as faux foliage or greenery into your nativity scene. This can add depth and create a sense of authenticity. Consider using garlands, wreaths, or small potted plants to enhance the visual appeal.
  1. Textiles and Fabrics: Incorporate textiles and fabrics to add texture and visual interest. Use richly colored fabrics as drapes or backdrops. Consider adding a soft blanket or rug to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
  1. Musical Accompaniment: Enhance the overall experience by playing soft Christmas carols or instrumental hymns in the background. This can create a serene ambiance and evoke a sense of reverence and joy.
  1. Personalized Touches: Infuse your nativity scene with personal touches that reflect your family’s traditions and values. Consider adding small keepsakes or ornaments that hold sentimental value. These personalized elements will make your display even more meaningful.

Remember, the goal is to create a visually captivating and emotionally evocative nativity scene. Experiment with different decorative elements and trust your creative instincts to bring your vision to life.

Maintenance and Care for Your Nativity Scene

Once your nativity scene is set up, it’s important to maintain and care for it throughout the Christmas season. Here are some tips to ensure that your display remains stunning and intact:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Dust and clean the nativity figures and scenery regularly to keep them looking their best. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently remove any dirt or debris. Avoid using harsh cleaning agents that could damage the figures or remove paint.
  1. Storage and Protection: When the Christmas season comes to an end, carefully pack and store your nativity scene in a secure and protective container. Wrap delicate figures in tissue paper or bubble wrap to prevent breakage. Store the scene in a cool, dry place to avoid damage from moisture or excessive heat.
  1. Repair and Restoration: If any of the nativity figures or scenery become damaged, consider seeking professional repair or restoration services. Skilled artisans can often repair small chips or cracks, ensuring that your nativity scene remains pristine for years to come.

By following these maintenance and care tips, you can enjoy your stunning nativity scene year after year, creating lasting memories and spreading the joy of Christmas.

Conclusion: Enjoying Your Stunning Nativity Scene Throughout the Christmas Season

Congratulations! You have successfully created a stunning nativity scene that captures the magic and beauty of Christmas. Through careful planning, selecting the perfect figures, setting up the backdrop and scenery, and adding the finishing touches, you have crafted a display that celebrates the true meaning of Christmas.

As you enjoy your nativity scene throughout the Christmas season, take a moment to reflect on the profound story it represents. Let it serve as a reminder of the hope, love, and joy that the birth of Jesus brings to the world. Share the magic with your loved ones and invite them to experience the wonder and awe of your exquisite nativity scene.

Remember, the true beauty of a nativity scene lies not only in its visual appeal but in the emotions it evokes and the memories it creates. Cherish this time-honored tradition and continue to create stunning nativity scenes that inspire and uplift. Merry Christmas!


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Leave A Comment

  1. Anonymous December 4, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    thanks a lot, we should be starting soon , thanks for the tips

  2. Carla December 8, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    I have the manger for my Baby Jesus in my family since 1500, in the USA is difficult to find the grass, ready made decorations.
    How can I make some? I am 75 and He gets new animals every Christmas, but I would like grass, snow.

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