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Craft Stick and Clay Pot Children's Nativity Set {Tutorial}

Last week I guest posted at Design Dazzle's 100 Ideas of Christmas Wonderful (which is still going on) and shared this tutorial.  Thanks to all of you who came over. :) 

I just finished my very first Christmas craft of the season:  A Childrens' Nativity Set made with craft sticks and clay pots.  I'm so excited to show you how to make one for your own family or to give away as a gift!

This nativity set is especially for kids.  They can play with it, keep it in their room, and best of all...they can help you make it, which makes it even more special and memorable! 

(The clay pot figures were inspired by a set that a good friend made for me years ago, there are many versions floating around so choose the one that you like best.   The stable and manger are my own designs.) 

 Craft Stick Nativity Stable
(Finished size:  Height 7" without the star, width 8")

Supplies Needed
Pkg. of craft sticks
Wire cutters and scissors
Hot glue gun and glue
Sm. pkg. of sheet moss
Dark brown stain or paint
Black craft wire
Wood star
Gold/yellow and cream/gray paint
Rag or foam brush
Sand paper

 1.  Using a pair of wire cutters, cut two paint sticks in half.  Pinch the stick tightly with the wire cutters and then carefully break it off in two or one side may just flip across the room.  Yes, we know from experience. :)  Cut one-fourth of the length off of 4 more paint sticks.  The rest of the sticks used will be full-size. 

2.  Lay out two sets of four sticks.  Hot glue the half-size sticks to the top and bottom.  Lay out 9 sticks, glue a full-size stick to the top and bottom.

3.  Glue the X on.  (You may want to wait to do this step until after your stain/paint the back piece.)

4.  Glue the three wall pieces together as pictured above.

5.  Lay out two sets of seven sticks.  (Leave a small space between two of them to string the wire through for the star.)  Glue a stick across, one inch up from the bottom.  Glue another stick across at the top so it hangs over the top of the sticks by 1/8" (this will be the peak of the roof).

6.  Glue the two parts of the roof together in the center.  Use plenty of hot glue.  Hold the two pieces in place on the sides of the stable and at the angle you want the roof as the glue dries.

7.  Use a rag to stain the craft sticks and the star or paint them dark brown with craft paint and a brush.  Let dry.  With the rag, gently rub some cream or gray paint over the stain to give it a weathered look.  Blend it in with a clean part of the rag as you go.

8.  Glue the roof in place on the side walls.  Lay out sheet moss on the roof, glue in place, and then roughly trim the edges with scissors. 

9.  For the star: Paint over the stain with gold paint. Sand to distress. Ink around the edges with a distress ink pad if necessary.  Cut a piece of wire, thread it through the roof.  Curl the end and hot glue it to the underside of the roof.  Curl the top of the wire around a pencil and hot glue the star to the wire. 

Clay Pot Nativity People

Supplies Needed
2- 1 3/4" to 2" clay pots (This is a seasonal item, I found mine at Jo Ann's)
2- round wood balls (1 1/2")
1- round wood ball (5/8")
Fabric scraps
Craft sticks
Permanent marker
Small dowel (you can also use an old foam brush handle)
Spanish moss
Blue, black, and flesh color paint and foam brush
Hot glue gun and glue
Small pin
Wire cutters

Baby Jesus and Manger

1.  Cut 4 sticks just under 2" long using the rounded end, and 6 sticks 1 3/4" long.  Criss-cross and glue the rounded sticks at the center.  The legs must be glued exactly as shown in the picture for the manger to work correctly. 

2.  Glue 4 sticks on for the bottom of the manger, glue the remaining two sticks to the ends and then glue spanish moss onto the manger. 

3.  Cut a dowel 1" long.  Glue the 5/8 ball to one end.  Paint with flesh color paint.  Draw the face on with a fine tip permanent marker.  Dip the head of a small pin into white paint and dot the eyes and cheeks.

4.  Cut a scrap of fabric.  Fold the top of the fabric down an inch, wrap over the head, swaddle the fabric around the baby, tuck the ends under and glue to the back.

Joseph and Mary

1.  Paint the pot and the head then hot glue the head to the pot. 

2.  For the robes, cut a square of scrap fabric.  Fold the top inch under and place it over the head.  Glue the sides of the robe to the pot.  Bring the fabric around and glue at the bottom center.  Trim off the excess fabric around the bottom with a pair of scissors.

3.  Draw the faces on with a fine tip permanent marker and dot eyes and cheeks with a pin head dipped in white paint. 

4.  Separate one strand out from a piece of jute and tie it for Mary's bow.  Tie some jute (all strands) in knots for the head bands.

I thought that Joseph and Mary could be a little taller, so I cut a piece of wood, painted it black (brown may have looked better), and set it inside the stable.  It made them just the right height, you won't notice it there when Joseph and Mary are in place.

 As you can see, this nativity set is not too hard to make.  My daughter made the stable pictured below almost all on her own.  She painted it a dark brown instead of staining it.  Paint made the clean-up a lot easier, as you can imagine. :)

If you're looking for an activity that will entertain your kids/grand kids, I suggest buying a large box of craft sticks.  Pictured below are a few of the things my kids have made 100% on their own, without any help.  It's amazing the creativity that can come from a pile of craft sticks, a hot glue gun, and a little paint.  It's so much fun!

We adore our little nativity set and hope that this is something that you can make and enjoy with your family as well! 

Today's Fabulous Find...DIY Children's Nativity Set


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Denissa said...

This is SO adroable!! I will definitely be doing this with my boys :) Thanks SO much for sharing!

Heather B. said...

I was one of the guest visitors that saw your post and I'm almost finished my nativity set. I was surprised at how fast it came together. The only thing I have left to do is create Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus's face....I'm a little apprehensive, but I'm following your example.

THANK YOU for your amazing, inexpensive craft ideas and sharing them!!


Unknown said...

So sweet, Janet! Thanks for the tutorial, this would be a cute little gift.

Amanda said...

This is such a wonderful nativity scene, thank you for sharing.

Janet said...

To Heather B.: I understand the apprehension on adding the faces, I pretty much copied how my friend drew them. One thing that helped me is that I drew the faces on with a pencil first before I broke out the sharpie, it really took the pressure off. :)

Rachel said...

So cute - I hope I can find to make a set this year!

Shenita @ Embellishments by SLR said...

What a great idea! Happily following you via the Creation Corner. I hope you will follow me, too! Many blessings to you!

Karen said...

Another adorable craft from you! My kids would love to make this. Thanks for sharing. You are amazing:)

Michelle Paige said...

What a precious nativity! Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by.

Unknown said...

Oh. my. goodness. This is by far my favorite holiday kid's craft that I've seen all season. I am pinning this and will definitely make it one of the advent activities I do with my son this year! I love love love it. Pleeease will you share it here?

Liz said...

I just LOVE this! so cute it makes me want to gather supplies and make it right now. thanks for the inspiration and great tutorial. stopping by from TT&J's party.

Erin {Lavender and Lemon Drops} said...

So cute! Love it!

marissa | Rae Gun Ramblings said...

I love this I'm a nativity collector so it would be so fun to make one of these with my nieces I'd love it if you would add this to my blog party at

Carrie said...

What a great idea!! I would love it if you would share it at my sharing party at Thank you!!

farmhouse-story said...

thanks so much for the great tut, janet! just so cute!

Ivaalex said...

Hi. That 's one of the most interesting things I've seen. Also impresses is that it sticks for ice cream. It is definitely number one in today's party. Greetings from me and the Czech Republic.

Carrie said...

Thank you for sharing at Crafty Moms Share!!

Heidi said...

So cute!! I love nativity's and this is such a cute one!! I would love for you to come share this at our link

Kara said...

Fantastic project!! Thanks for sharing at Shine on Friday. We hope to see you again soon.

Unknown said...

SO cute! Please consider linking up to my brand new Homemade Nativities link up here...I'd love to see your collection there!

Unknown said...

Thanks for linking up to my Nativity's such a cute idea and your pictures are awesome!

April said...

This is so cute! I pinned it a while ago, but thought I'd come back and invite you to my Handmade Christmas linky party!

Amy {The Idea Room} said...

I love this! I especially love the way you have them framed on the wall! Thanks so much for sharing!

Amanda said...

Just stopping by to let you know that I have featured your project on Fun Family Crafts! You can see it here

If you have other kid friendly crafts, I'd love it if you would submit them :) If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above.

Anonymous said...

I made a slightly simplified version. My girls (ages 7 & 9) are still working on theirs still. We're all having a blast!!

Janet said...

To onlysometimesclever: I wasn't able to post a comment on your post, maybe you will see this here...thanks for sharing the link, they turned out great! I love how you used rocks instead of the clay pots, very creative!:)


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