Joy to the World; Church Nativity Festival Details

A few years ago, I helped our area start a new tradition, hosting a Festival of Nativities. It was a long process to get it going and took many hands to pull it off. I’m excited to share with you some photos of our event, in hopes that it may help you plan a similar event in your area.

Sometime towards the end of the summer, I was asked to help out with a new event that was being planned in our area for church.  

My job at church right now is to organize activities for members of our Stake (which is a group of several different church congregations in my city).   All of the work done for this event would be a volunteer and there were a lot of people all working hard to hopefully make it a success.

What is a Festival of Nativities?

The idea behind the event was to display Nativity sets or Crèche’s owned by members of our congregations, along with having live Christmas music, activities for children and some yummy treats.  This was the first year that anyone in our area had done this, although I know that it is done all over the country and has become a great tradition for many people.

After the event was over the only thing I could think was “my cup runneth over”. It was a fantastic experience for me to be a part of.  There were several kinks to work out along the way but in the end, things turned out just how we wanted them.  

I had so much help from wonderful wonderful friends, I was overcome with emotion at how willingly and happily so many people volunteered their time and their talents to make this event come together.

It was a crazy crazy week to get ready, many late nights and long days at the church setting up. I will admit I was tired & just a bit overwhelmed.  

After the event started I  sat down and quietly listened to the beautiful music and watched peoples reactions as they viewed all of the nativity sets, I felt such a feeling of peace & joy, – the true Christmas spirit.

This will be my last post until after Christmas, it’s been a long 3 months for several reasons, but it’s now time to sit and enjoy some time with my family, and I can not think of a better post to “end on” before Christmas day.

I realize that not everyone who reads this blog celebrates Christmas, or believes what I do, and I completely respect that.  This project used up most of my creative energy the last few months and this is a creative blog.  

I had so much fun planning it and was so excited to share what we came up with!  Also,  I would like to share with you a bit about who I am, and what “makes me tick”… and my religion is a large part of that. So Merry Christmas and a truly Happy, Happy Holidays, from me to you.

How we Set up our Event:

I was not given much direction for the decorations/setup for the event, other than to make the Nativity sets the main focus.  Since this was our first year we were anticipating about 200 sets to display (which is very close to what we had).  We had the gym filled up then 6 smaller rooms decorated with “themed” Nativity sets.

The Cultural Hall/Gym:

In the gym, I set up 8 round tables in the center of the room. In the “hole” left by the tables, I set up 5 Christmas trees and just wrapped them in geomesh. My husband came up with the idea of the star in the center.

There is a hole in the center of the floor used for a volleyball standard. We bought some PVC pipe and stuck it in the hole, then attached a star to the top and ran 8 strands of light out from the top.  The photo does not do this justice, the warm Christmas lights gave a wonderful glow to the Nativities on the table.

The Nativity sets in the center of the gym were displayed with white tulle & white twinkle lights.

I wanted to create a way to “guide” someone though the gym. We had 4 long displays of nativity sets around the edges of the gym and I wanted them to feel connected to each other.

I had a friend of mine cut from vinyl the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2.  I gave her the words and told her what I wanted on each board, and she did a wonderful job designing the fonts & flourishes on the boards. (Note: I do not know what font she used).

Themed Nativity Rooms:

We also had some themed rooms.  I asked 5 different people to decorate these. All I told them was the theme of their room and the size of their tables. They did the rest, so I can take absolutely no credit for any of their ideas. Each one of them absolutely blew me away! They all did such a wonderful job and each one was unique.

Vintage Nativity Sets:

Traci put together the “Vintage” room. Mostly nativity sets that were vintage, but a few newer ones also that had similar coloring to the vintage ones. She brought this awesome wreath she made along with some other wonderful vintage Christmas decorations.

Crystal and Glass Nativity Sets:

Tamara was assigned the Glass/Crystal room. Which worked out perfect because she had all of these beautiful black tablecloths. They showed off the crystal & glass perfectly.

Children’s Nativity Sets:

Angela was a crafty genius and put together the Children’s nativities room. She covered the wall first with blue butcher paper then HAND cut out a silhouette of Bethlehem out of black butcher paper that she taped over it.

This is a photo I snapped with my phone while they were setting up. It shows best the layout of the room and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take a better photo of the room all set up. She also strung stars from the ceiling!

White Nativity Sets:

Jessica set up the White room.  She brought lots of tulle and twinkle lights, the room was just aglow it was so gorgeous.

International Nativity Sets:

Kendra put together the International room.  She had the fantastic idea of bringing suitcases, hat boxes and other decorative things from home to display the nativity sets on.  

This room had the most interesting sets in it.  It has inspired me to start collecting nativity sets as I travel.

Children’s Activities Room:

We also had a Children’s craft room.  My friend Brandi painted a 6’x9′ canvas backdrop that we hung up for a backdrop for the kids.

They had lots of dress ups and were able to dress up and pose for a photo.

Brandi also came up with the genius idea of this little craft:

She used toilet paper rolls, wooden dolls, hay, and paper towels to make little craft kits for the kids. They got to build their own to take home. My kids still have theirs in their rooms.  She cut over 500 toilet paper rolls to get ready for this!!!

Like I said before it was a wonderful & fun thing to help out with. There were many many people who worked on this, not just me.  It would never have happened otherwise.  We’ve already got some great ideas for next year!!

For Tips on Planning your Own Festival of Nativities, SEE THIS POST

Similar Posts


  1. I can see where your last three months have gone… incredible! What a wonderful way to honor the real reason for the season…

  2. How amazing! I even saw a picture there that is exactly like the nativity my grandmother gifted to me. It really gets you into the true spirit of Christmas! What an amazing job you did, thank you so much for sharing. Merry Christmas!

  3. Oh Melissa, this looks absolutely stunning! I bet it was even more glorious in person. Working events like that can take up a lot of time, but it’s so worth it in the end.

  4. great job melissa! our stake does a creche exhibit too. i went and helped a couple of times and i can’t believe how much work goes into these events. i bet you are beyond exhausted. i hope you have a peaceful christmas.

  5. A beautiful job was done by all, I would love to see it but pictures will have to do.
    Merry Christmas and blessings to all of your family for the New Year.

  6. This is absolutely beautiful! I cannot believe the amount of time, work and attention to detail you put into this. I love it, thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Boy do I miss Louisville. Great job, Melissa, it looks like it was beautiful. I also think to myself “my cup runneth over” I love when I feel that way.

  8. We did this in my Stake for the first time this year too, followed by our Christmas Cantata. It was a great event with about 450 nativities. We even had people from the community come in and ask if they could share their nativities next year. I wasn’t involved in the set-up, but I know how much work went into it. You did an awesome job!

  9. You are my hero! I can’t even imagine the work that went into this. And what is your calling? Stake Activities? Glad it’s yours calling and not mine. 😉
    It looks like you did an amazing job. Congrats!
    xo, M

  10. Wow, Melissa! It looks so reverent and so beautiful. You guys did an amazing job. What a great idea, to have an event focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. I loved looking at all the pictures. Hope you guys have a nice Christmas. I haven’t talked to you in forever. Maybe more in 2011. Happy New Year too!

  11. Absolutely AWESOME! Even my hubby was enthralled! KY is a little far (we’re in NC—) but this was beautiful! Thank you for sharing and putting the focus back on the reason for the season!

  12. Incredible. They are lucky to have you! I can only imagine the wonderful spirit that was present in that building that day! If I thought I could handle it I’d suggest we try something like this in our building next year! I wish I could have been there for yours.

  13. This is absolutely amazing!! I would love to see something like this in my ward/stake. Thanks so much for sharing your time and pictures!!

  14. Our stake has been doing this event for years and when we moved it I loved it. They have a choir and program and this year they are having the different wards doing a live nativity while the story is narrated. It’s a big community event advertised in our city.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.