Saturday, December 17, 2016

Make an Over the Top Nativity Scene!

Thought I 'd share this Nativity how-to again this year.


Now and then I have something to share that has no bearing on the Liturgy of the Hours. This is one of those times.


Most Christians put out some sort of nativity set this time of year. Perhaps several sets  of them.

When my kids were young we made a point of placing our  Nativity figures in a prominent location, and tried to make an attractive backdrop and surrounding decorations so that our creche  would stand out in their minds as a Big Deal ranking right up there with the Chrustmas tree.

We bought  extra figures each year (love those half-price sales on Dec. 26th)  and soon were able to set up the stable on the first Sunday of advent and add one animal, person, or other prop each day. Sort of an interactive advent calendar.  I'd let the kids play with the figures too, using their imaginations to act out and no doubt embellish the story of the first Christmas with considerable detail that was not to be found in scripture or tradition.

As the children grew older, the more creative among them would help me construct the hills and fields of  Bethlehem, which we'd create  with stones and evergreens from our yard or nearby woods. Last year's effort was one of the better ones, so, as I took it all apart last January, I took photos of the various steps and details that went into it. Maybe these will inspire some of you to try your hand at something similarly elaborate. Feel free to share this on your Facebook feed, Pinterest, etc. Here goes:

1. Select a small table, chair, china hutch, desk, or other piece of furniture for you display. For us it's usually the top of a low bookcase or a desk, but last year we went with this "gossip bench" plus a little stool sticking out beneath it:
2. Next, place strategic piles of rags or heaped towels to give some  hills and valleys to your Bethlehem countryside:
3. Drape the whole thing with a large sheet or table cloth. The  color should be green or an earth tone.
4. This next step is not strictly  necessary, but if you have access to a good source of moss (that is, woods where no one will look askance at you digging things up) then dig up lots of it (it pulls up easily in large strips) and lay it down over much of your "ground". Keep it fresh and green by misting it daily with a spray bottle. This picture was taken the day I took it down. I'd quit spraying it a few days before and it looks it:
5. If you want a creek in your scene, a strip of crumpled plastic wrap, with a sprinkling of pea gravel in the stream bed will work just fine.                                                                                                          
6. Add some stones and other greenery from your yard, plus a string of carefully placed twinkle lights, here is what we have:
Now for a few more pictures to show some close up details:
We have lots of shepherdesses. My two oldest kids are girls and they loved these. 


Notice the angel  hanging on the blinds. There's also a  star dangling further up but not pictured.
Naturally, the 3 kings started travelling from the opposite end of the house some days ago, but now they've almost reached the manger.



So there you have it. It is a somewhat messy project, and it does take up  a bit of space, as you see. But it certainly can be done on a somewhat smaller scale.  If any of you do something similar, please send me a picture and I'll publish it in a future post. 

6 comments:

  1. Super, very nice. We do a similar scene every year, have done for ages. Where do your figures come from, I ask because ours, come from Lucca, Italy and look very similar to yours ...

    If you don't know it, or haven't seen it, have a look at the Christmas tree at the Metropolitana Museum of NYC. http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2014/christmas-tree

    Several years ago we bought replicas of the Angels ...they are really incredible

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    1. Yes, we lived in New Rochelle,NY the first years of our marriage, and went down to the Met once or twice to see the creche. That is part of what inspired our fancy displays. (Not that I"m saying the results come even close.) The figures are Fontaninis, which are widely available in the USA. However, ours is the 3.5 inch size rather than the 5 inch. These smaller ones ceased being available here, so I did supplement with a few of the animals from the larger set. Hence, our stable cat looks the size of a lynx compared to the people! Then, about a dozen years ago I accompanied my husband to Rome on a business trip and was delighted to find more figures in the 3.5 inch size in one of the many Catholic goods stores close to St. Peters Square.

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    1. Hey! Nice to see you here. You know, you could maybe do yours in and among all those pottled plants.

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  3. this was always the big Advent project in our house when I was a child/young person. My mother kept more to the old French tradition of the tree going up just before Christmas, and staying up until Epiphany, so we spent plenty of time building our Nativity scene. What a great way to keep the Christmas spirit alive!

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