How to Make an Outdoor Nativity Set


The Nativity is a popular display around Christmas every year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Nativities can be small, featuring Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, or larger, featuring details such as animals in the stable and people attending the birth. Using patterns available on the Internet and plywood you can purchase from a home improvement store, you can make an outdoor Nativity set yourself.

Step 1

Purchase a pattern that serves as a guide for your outdoor Nativity set (see Resources). A basic package will contain patterns for Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. A pattern with more details might also feature a shepherd, the animals in the stable, the three wise men, an angel and a star.

Step 2

Transfer the pattern to your wood using graphic transfer paper. Lay the transfer paper onto the plywood and secure it with masking tape. Lay the pattern on top of the transfer paper. Using a dull pencil, trace the lines of the pattern to transfer the pattern onto the wood. Trace all the details of the pattern, such as the details in the crowns of the wise men or the facial expressions on Mary and Joseph.

Step 3

Cut along the outside of your pattern using a jigsaw. Cut out all the details, such as the straw in the manger, according to the pattern designs. Sand the edges so the Nativity characters are smooth.

Step 4

Paint your outdoor Nativity set according to directions on your pattern. Some patterns provide a "paint by number" guide, whereas other patterns simply give you a color photo to match. If you're interested in creating a Nativity that's more of a silhouette, paint all of your pieces white.

Step 5

Lay the outdoor Nativity set pieces flat when not in use. Because exterior-grade plywood is a strong wood, you can stack them on top of each other in the off season. However, take care not to chip the paint. You might benefit by laying blankets between each piece.

Things You'll Need

  • Outdoor Nativity set pattern
  • Exterior-grade plywood
  • Transfer paper
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Paint


  • Paintable Nativity Scene Plans
  • Transfer Paper
Keywords: outdoor nativity set, make outdoor nativity, build nativity set

About this Author

Kristan Hart is an award-winning journalist in Springfield, Mo., who provides SEO web copy as a freelance writer/editor. She has a decade of experience and holds a bachelor's degree in mass communications with an emphasis in broadcasting.

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