Festival of Nativities

I’m excited to share with you today the project I’ve been working on for the last 4 months.  It’s the reason behind all the guest posts this month and total lack of Christmas projects on this blog!

This is the 2nd year that I was involved in our church’s Festival of Nativities, this year I was the chairman.  Most of the time I kept thinking “am I even old enough to be in charge of something like this?  They must have the wrong person”.  It was a giant undertaking with lots of moving parts to keep track of.  This year I had a wonderful committee.  I felt like the entire event was a true collaboration of everyone’s ideas.  I did not do this with out help, and these are NOT all my ideas, I just happen to be the one that is blogging about it.

The event consisted of people from our area that we got to church with, bringing nativity sets from their homes and lending them to us for the week to display.   Everyone was then invited to come view the nativity sets, eat some yummy refreshments, listen to wonderful Christmas music and do some fun activities with their kids.

To be honest, this was a lot of work for everyone involved. I got discouraged several times during the weeks leading up to the event and during the set up.  When I got feeling overwhelmed I just reminded myself that doing this was my way of making a tiny contribution into preserving what I believe is the true meaning of Christmas.

On a personal note, my family and I celebrate Christmas. I realize that this blog reaches a worldwide audience, and not everyone celebrates like I do.  If your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas hopefully you can find some other creative inspiration somewhere in this post.

Photo frames Rhonna Designs

To set up the gym at church we arranged 8 round tables in the center clustered around a variety of Christmas trees.  The star in the center was made with PVC pipe “shimmed” into the hole in the floor for the volleyball standard.  We then strung lights down and in between the tables. A lit star topped off the whole arrangement.

On the center tables we placed the larger nativity sets.
Nativity set from Bethlehem carved from an olive tree
We placed 4 sets of tables around the edges of the gym and organized the Nativity sets by color & style on the tables (we had a table of all wood nativity sets).
To help guide the visitor through the room we printed the Christmas Story from Matthew on foam boards around the room. (they are just pinned to the cork boards at the church)
This year we added these stars dropped from wire strung over the alcoves of the church.  They were inexpensive and added a bit of charm to the gym.

One our committee members husbands built the most beautiful back drop for us to use on the stage.  Each piece is a 4×8 piece of MDF cut out  with the silhouette of Old Jerusalem.  The panels are all moveable so depending on how many people were on the stage we could rearrange them as necessary.

I bought the star (from Grandin Road) at the last minute (after Thanksgiving sale YES!!) – I think it added a nice touch to the stage.

On the stage we hosted a live nativity and Christmas music.  It rotated between musical acts and the live nativity all day.

Heather a committee member, had the ingenious idea of making door stops. She used empty boxes with bricks in them then wrapped them to look like presents.
Aside from the gym we had 5 smaller rooms decorated with themed nativity sets. We had international sets (the photo collage above).
A room for white nativity sets (don’t you just love the white lights place UNDER the table cloth?)
We also had rooms for Glass & Crystal nativity sets, Hand crafted nativity sets, Village sets and  Children’s nativity sets.
I loved all of the smaller rooms because we asked people to decorate them and told them to do whatever they wanted.  Each one of them knocked it out of the park. Seeing the individuality of each room was one of the highlights of the event.
There was also a room for children.  All of that holding still and “not touching” wore them out a bit so we provided a room where they could “play”.
There was a dress-up corner, where they could dress up and pose for a photo. (I don’t know where the sheep came from, my Mother in law has had it for years, I think it’s from England).
One of the members of our church had all of the nativity costumes.
This year I took my little people nativity set over and set up a play table for the kids.  We thought it would be okay if there was ONE nativity set they could touch!

The kids also got to make a little craft.  Brandi came up with this one last year and it was a big hit. It’s made from a toilet paper roll, a wooden doll, a paper towel and some raffia.

We also had Christmas cookies served as refreshments.

I’m so happy with how the event turned out and so grateful to every single person that helped us set this up and clean it up.  It took a village.

Thanks for your patience with my little old blog :).  Reading your comments are bright spots in my day.  I am crafting and sewing and will have lots to share with you soon. But for now, I really need to spend some time with my kids (as you can imagine I’ve been distracted lately)  Watch for a project next week then we’ll all take a little break until the New Year.

oh if you are doing the Quilt Along I DID not forget about you!! I’ll be posting an update on Monday! Then we’ll have a linky party right after Christmas (so we don’t spoil any surprises)… So TAKE PICTURES of your quilts before you give them away!

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Melissa Mortenson is the author of the Polka Dot Chair blog which is in its 7th year of sharing fresh and creative ideas with readers. She is the author of “Project Teen, Handmade Gifts your Teen will Actually Love”. Her first fabric line “Derby Style” debuted in January 2015 through Riley Blake Designs. A mom of 3, she considers herself lucky to be living in Kentucky.


  1. says

    I just had to tell you how amazing I think your Festival of Nativities is. I know a few people who have beautiful and special unique nativity sets who display them with pride in their homes each Christmas but this would a wonderful way to share them.
    I just wish I could have come and seen it myself. Well done to you and your entire village.

  2. says

    What a fantastic celebration! As a Christian family, we struggle all Advent for more Jesus and less Santa. What a wonderful way to keep the focus on the real meaning of the season. The pictures from the childrens’ room brought tears to my eyes – the ability for them to experience the miracle of Christ’s birth on their own terms and at their own level is precious.

  3. says

    Just lovely to look at, and it is evident that many people put the finest into this… how nice of your group to sponsor something likely this to come to… it must be very unifying for both your church and your guests…

  4. says

    This was amazing & very moving. Thanks for posting all the pictures. What a great way to get back to the real reason for the season & I echo the others in the praise for the children’s room & activities. What a special fellowship you all have at your church.

  5. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. The pictures are beautiful. It must be wonderful to see the real nativities! Your church is very blessed to have you to serve in such a way. As one person has already stated, “More of Jesus, less of Santa.”. Merry Christmas!

  6. susie says

    I just came across you site today and wanted to tell you what a blessing it was to see this! It’s so nice to see the REASON FOR THE SEASON – even if it is August! Everything looks so beautiful! I so do hope that you have a great turn out and blessed time next year. It’s so great to see all of the hard work that was done, and for a beautiful reason! Blessing to all – and I hope you and all involved in years to come have a truly blessed time doing it again! Thanks for sharing!.

    • says

      Thanks! I’m not in charge again this year, it’s time to “pass the torch” but it’s been a great activity to plan and get going in our area

  7. RoseAnn says

    I was looking at a pin on pinterest of Nativities of a friend of mine and came across your blog on the Nativities from 2011. Thank you for posting about it. I read every word. I have been trying to start one in our little town in Mendon, Utah. A cousin of ours in Canada does one every year. She has around 300 sets, plus ones that she gets friends and neighbors to bring and set up. She numbers all her sets, some she buys from the thrift store and must find good boxes to keep them safe during transportation and storage. Each one is so unique and special. It is September 2013 and your post lives on.

  8. Juanita Thompson says

    Hi – I love the photo of the nativity scene that has the yellow arch iwth the gold star. I am looking to buy something just like this – any idea where it came from? Juanita

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