Tuesday, November 21

Wooden Peg Nativity {Chrsitmas Crafting Party}

Our Joseph had a little mishap last year that ended with a missing hand... and a realization that the ceramic nativity set needed to be farther out of reach. So I knew this year we would need a nativity that could safely be in reach of all those little fingers. Something they could play with (and drop) all day long without broken pieces and sharp edges.

Our boys loved the peg camping set I made a few years ago (and it's held up great all this time), so it seemed like the perfect place to start our new nativity.

I wanted all the parts of the Christmas story, so I made a set that includes Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, their donkey, an angel, stable animals, shepherds with sheep, and wisemen with a camel.

I even found this perfect little wooden box at Michaels that stores all the pegs and doubles as the stable when you're ready to play!


Before I started, I looked around at several peg nativity sets to get an idea of design and style ideas, as well as what pegs I could use for odd pieces like the animals (I linked several of my favorites at the end of the post if you want more inspirations).  I bought all my pegs at Hobby Lobby. Here's what I used:
  • 8 large peg men (about 2 1/2" tall)
  • 1 peg man (about 1 1/2" tall)
  • 1 cake topper set (not pictured, it had one man and one woman peg)
  • 5 flat-bottom balls
  • 1 flat-bottom egg
  • variety of acrylic paints
  • clear spray sealer

Before I started painting I used a pencil to draw the designs I liked onto each peg, including clothes, hair, and faces. I decided to leave the faces wood-colored and paint in all the other details.

Then I just used my paints and a small brush to fill in all the details. I was careful not to get any paint on the faces. I also opted for eyes only (no nose or mouth). All the peg sets I liked best were in that style, so who could argue? I'll tell you who. My children. I've heard no end of "Why don't they have mouths?" "Did you forget the mouths?" "Are you going to put mouths on?"

Anyway... I kept the family pretty neutral. Classic blue for Mary (I feel like she is blue in every nativity?!) and green/brown for Joseph (I kind of with I'd gone muted red for him so he didn't look so much like the shepherds).

I wanted it to be obvious that the wisemen and camel went together, so I painted them all in a matching color scheme of bright red, blue, and yellow. And tried to make them look fancy with crowns and gotees and stuff.

The shepherds are matching in earthy brown and green (Joseph can be differentiated by his hood and a beard). They each have a little white sheep to look after.

Last but not least, I made a gray donkey, a brown cow (how now?), an extra sheep for the stable, and an angel.

Once the paint dried, I sprayed them all with two coats of clear spray sealer.

I didn't do this with the camping set, and a few spots of paint have chipped off over the years. I'm hoping this will keep them looking sharp.

Once they dry you can set them up in your box and get ready to play! Our boys could barely keep their hands off while I snapped these pictures, and now they've been playing with it daily.

I'm still hoping to add a few more pieces, like a felt star and some kind of manger. Maybe a few tiny hay bales.

We couldn't pass up a little wooden stable at Walmart for $3.50 today, but they seem to like using both that and the box. Wisemen need somewhere to live, too, right?

That's it for today! I'd love to see your nativity if you give it a try. And don't forget you can check out the rest of our DIY Christmas projects here:


Here are several more peg nativity sets to check out:


  1. I am a NON artistic person!! any tips on how to make the faces / animals? maybe a template I can copy from?

  2. This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing this great idea. I'm totally going to make these from Christmas gifts for my family!