Amy’s Free Ideas

Seasons > Christmas > Decorations for the home > Nativity sets: where to get them, and how to decorate with them

This wooden nativity set was given to me when my children were small. Even though the figures were carved, they were sturdy enough for my children to handle. Over the past 20 years, the figures have been displayed in many different places. One of my favorite is front and center on the mantle (or in this case, on the piano, since I didn’t have a fireplace at the time.)

This was the set my children were allowed to play with. They enjoyed helping the wise men "follow" the star till Christmas morning. Here is how it worked: I bought a star-shaped night light at a dollar store, and plugged it in somewhere in the house. Then I stood the wise men near the night light star. During the days leading up to Christmas, who ever found the star plugged in, would unplug it and move it to another plug, along with the wise men nearby and wait for the next person to find the new location. My kids were school age when they did this, so don’t try this with toddlers--that would be dangerous!

Here is another way to make a Nativity set for your children to play with--use wooden clothespins to make Mary and Joseph, the wise men, shepherds, and angels. Use popsicle sticks to make the manger and stable (sold in craft stores, dollar stores, and some hundred yen stores.) The baby Jesus is a wooden bead with a face drawn in it, and wrapped in a tiny piece of felt. My daughter loved this set so much that she took it with her when she headed off to college--I had to ask her to take a picture of it for the website!

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clothespin nativity set

Since these are ceramic sets, they are breakable, and so not suitable for children to play with. However, they can be displayed in the kitchen, bathroom, or outdoors without worrying if they get wet, since they are ceramic.

Where to find them: If you keep your eyes out, you can occasionally find ceramic sets like these. (In Japan, these were purchased at Keiyo D2 for around 200 yen.)

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ceramic nativity sets

If you want a really nice set, and don’t mind investing a pretty sum to get it, These Willowtree figurines might be just what you are looking for. (Sadly, these are not mine--they are my daughter’s, and she took them with her when she got married.) However, this set has gotten the most compliments when people visited our home, so a lot of people think they are nice, too.

view ways to decorate using Willowtree figures

This small set, is not quite as exorbitant. The two good things about it: it is wooden, so children can play with it, and all the pieces fit inside, so the stable forms it’s own storage box, and since it is small, doesn’t take up much storage space. It is also quite flat, so it can be hung on a wall if you have limited table top space.

view ways to decorate using small wooden set

Where to get it: In Japan, one of the best sources for nativity sets is Word of Life Press Ministries. They have sold this particular set in the past. I don’t know if they will sell it again this year or not--you might find a different set you like better! So check it out on their website, or at local Christian book stores:

This is not a nativity set, but it is a way to display nativity tree ornaments (that were purchased at a hundred yen store.) You can see a close-up in the photo to the right. They have been hung on stands, and grouped with gold balls (representing the gold that the wise men gave Jesus) along with some wooden camels. Even without the camels, it would make a nice arrangement, and everything else can be purchased at hundred yen stores!      view more ways to decorate with nativity ornaments

This is a huge set--what is unusual about it is that it includes a whole village of houses to go along with the figures which are actually quite small--the figures are only a couple of inches tall. It is hard to find a place to display the whole thing. Perhaps this year I will break it up into 3 smaller vignettes.  I usually add hanging angels above the sheep and shepherds, which I bought separately because the set did not include angels.

view ways to decorate with a large resin and ceramic set

This set is the smallest set I have ever seen with individual pieces. It is so small that it can go a lot of places, but it is too small to display by itself.

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small resin nativity set

Where to find it: This was ordered from Oriental Trading Company. They no longer sell this set, but do sell a 6 inch set.

As you have probably guessed by now, I have a nativity set in every room in my home. That is what Christmas is all about! Can you guess what I don’t have a single decoration or picture of in my home? There are NO Santas. I feel that “Santa” has stolen Christmas in Japan. All the children are taught that Christmas is the day Santa brings them one present. It is only the children who go to church who know Christmas is really celebrating the birth of Jesus--the Savior of the world.

Link to Amazon that sells

Willowtree figurines:

Link to Willowtree site:

For more ways to make nativity sets, check out my Sunday school crafts

This nativity set is not extra big or small, so it can go just about anywhere, though if there are small children around, a mantle or high shelf might be a better place to display it. This table in the foyer is big enough for a candle arrangement along with the nativity set. The wreath is large, but a smaller wreath would look lost on the large wall.

Where to get it: This resin set was sold at Walmart about 5 years ago. The nice thing about it was that you could buy them by the piece, so you could get as many sheep, camels and shepherds as you wanted, rather than the pre-determined number of a most sets--which is never enough! Unfortunately, I have not seen these recently, so I guess not enough people took advantage of buying these.

view ways to decorate with glass nativity set

The ornament on the left is the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph, and the one on the right is the wise men.

Dollar stores often carry wooden clothespins and decorative or toy camels, and pipe cleaners, too. Cut up black or brown pipe cleaners for hair and beards.