I’m so excited to share this traveling Nativity. This year is the first year my kids get it. Every year, we’ve done the Christmas story — we’ve read it, talked about it, the whole shebang. For the first time, this year, it seems like my kids are actually following along.
The concept is simple: Every night, Mary and Joseph move a doorknob closer to the tree. For each movement, we tell another part of the Christmas story.
When Mary and Joseph reach the tree, the manger is waiting. On Christmas Eve, we place the baby Jesus in the manger and finish the story.
I test drove this one back in November, and it worked so well. My kids were excited to move the ornament closer, and they were interested to hear more of the story. We’ll be doing it again this month. They’re small enough the repetition will probably be good for them.
My house has 12 doorknobs, so that’s how may days we made this take. Below is how I broke the story up. Feel free to condense or expand as needed.
- Day 1: Mary and Joseph have to leave their home and travel a long, long way to a place called Bethlehem.
- Day 2: Mary is going to have a baby, so traveling is very hard. It’s very close to time for her baby to come, and she is worried about having a baby far away from home.
- Day 3: On the other side of the world, there were some very wise men who are studying the sky. They see a new star and want to find out what it meant.
- Day 4: Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem, but no one will let them stay in any of the inns. They don’t know where to sleep.
- Day 5: Mary and Joseph find a stable and got ready to sleep in the hay with all the animals. It is getting close to time for Mary to have her baby.
- Day 6: The wise men are still watching the star. They are riding camels across the desert, and reading books. The books tell them that the new star means a special baby is going to be born.
- Day 7: Near Bethlehem, there are some shepherds. They are watching their sheep. Some of the shepherds are getting sleepy, because watching sheep can get very boring. Suddenly, the sky gets bright.
- Day 8: The shepherds watch as angels appear. The angels begin to sing a song, and they tell the shepherds that a special baby is going to be born. The shepherds decide they want to see the baby, so they start traveling to Bethlehem.
- Day 9: The wise men arrive in Bethlehem. They tell the King that there is a very special baby, and he tells the wise men to go find the baby. The wise men leave to look for the baby.
- Day 10: The King isn’t very nice. He wants to hurt the special baby. The wisemen are smart, and they figure this out. They decide they won’t tell the King where the baby is.
- Day 11: Mary starts to have her baby. The wisemen are still looking for the baby. The shepherds are coming too.
- Day 12 (Christmas Eve): The baby is born. His name is Jesus. Mary puts him in a manger because they don’t have a crib. The shepherds come to worship the Jesus. So do the wisemen. The wisemen even bring presents. On the last day, we also talk about why Jesus was such a special baby, and then we sing Silent Night.
(Yes, I’m aware that the wisemen/King Herod thing was nearly 2 years after Jesus was born. If it bothers you, go right ahead and tell the story your way.)
Now, here’s how you make the ornaments:
Traveling Nativity, Step-by-Step
- 2 sheets of cardstock
- baby/manger and Mary/Joseph printables
- polyfil stuffing
- hole punch
Start by printing the baby/manger and Mary/Joseph printables on the cardstock. The baby/manger printable has a few other things on it. I just throw them away.
Kids can help here by coloring the pieces you’re using.
When the printables are colored, you’ll cut around out the baby completely and lay it to the side. For the manger and Mary/Joseph, cut out a circle around them.
Then, cut out two more circles, one to match the manger and one to match Mary and Joseph.
Before you go any further, cut a slit in the manger. This will be where you put the baby on Christmas Eve.
Now, take the marker and make a dashed line around the manger and Mary and Joseph. This gives it a hand-stiched look.
Then, glue around the edge of the two ornaments and stick the second cardstock circle to their backs. You need to leave a small piece open. This will be where you put the stuffing.
Now stuff in some of the stuffing (it doesn’t take much), and glue the opening closed.
Once the ornament is dried, use the hole punch to make a hole at the top, slide the yarn through, and knot it. You’re ready for Christmas!