The holidays are upon us. What is on everybody’s mind? Christmas.
Christmas activities. Christmas decorating. Christmas traditions. Christmas shopping. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.
It seems like every year we try to cram more and more into our already busy schedules. After all – Christmas is only the best time of the year when we find time to do ALL THE THINGS…right?
Not exactly…but that’s another topic.
Unfortunately, the busier our schedules get, the less and less room we have for the most important part of the season – Jesus Christ.
Now if you’re reading this blog, you don’t need me to preach to you. I’m sure you are as painfully aware as I am of the ever-decreasing presence of Christ in our holiday traditions.
However, no matter how important we know Christ is (He is the ‘reason for the season’ after all,) it can sometimes be difficult to find ways to bring Jesus into our Christmas celebrations without feeling like we are missing out on something else.
Bring Christ Back Into Christmas With Gingerbread Nativities
One popular Christmas tradition is the gingerbread house.
Gingerbread houses are a lot of fun.
You can go the simple graham crackers with frosting route, or you can buy a pre-made gingerbread house kit. You can even go all out and indulge in some homemade gingerbread.
Planning, assembling, and decorating a gingerbread house is a beloved holiday tradition by people all over the world. And I’ve seen some pretty fantastic gingerbread houses in my time.
But most gingerbread houses don’t really include, or even allude to, Christ.
Or at least, they didn’t use to…
A New Holiday Tradition
Our family began indulging in a new holiday tradition a few years ago. This is a tradition that we have loved participating in and sharing with our friends.
Instead of making the traditional gingerbread house, we now make gingerbread nativities.
Gingerbread nativities are a great way to participate in a super fun, traditional holiday activity, while still bringing Christ to the forefront of the festivities.
And just like with a traditional gingerbread house, gingerbread nativities can be built with graham crackers or homemade gingerbread. I have even seen gingerbread nativity kits online – although they can be hard to find.
How To Make A Gingerbread Nativity
Our family goes the simple route and just uses graham crackers.
Honestly? The real reason we use graham crackers is that I only like soft gingerbread. And soft gingerbread is not very structurally sound.
So graham crackers it is!
But if you like hard gingerbread, then, by all means, feel free to do this with some gingerbread.
First, you are going to start with your stable.
This is definitely the hardest part. But building a stable is a great way to incorporate some schooling into your lifeschooler’s day!
Give your child a couple of graham crackers (or gingerbread) and see what they can come up with! It can be fun to watch kids experiment with the structural integrity of different shapes and designs.
Or if you want to help your little ones with a simple yet structurally sound stable, you can use this design.
- Take 3 long rectangle pieces.
- Break one of them in half to make 2 equal pieces.
- Place the two smaller pieces under one of the longer pieces, as if you were building a table.
- Take your remaining long piece and stick ‘behind’ your table, creating a little cave-like stable.
- If desired, take two more equal pieces (from a 4th rectangle piece broken in half) and place them in a triangular shape atop your ‘stable.’
- Glue everything together with some delicious frosting and let set.
Because I like delicious gingerbread houses, we use regular store-bought frosting. This makes for a yummier structure, but also for one that is less structurally-sound. For a structurally sound stable, you might want to use royal icing instead.
But anyways, if you decide to follow this design, you will end up with a stable that looks like this.
But seriously, the sky’s the limit! Your stables can look however you want them to look!
When Jesus was born, He was visited by shepherds, animals, and wise men. So of course, a gingerbread nativity scene wouldn’t be complete without replicas of these visitors.
I usually go simple and just buy candies and treats that already resemble these visitors. Sour patch kids make great shepherds and wise men, and animal crackers are perfect for visiting animals.
If you can find barnyard animal crackers, you can have cows, sheep, and horses visiting your nativity. We had more exotic visitors, such as polar bears and penguins, visiting our Baby Jesus.
The Holy Family
Again, I went simple and just used sour patch kids as my Mary and Joseph. A sour patch kid cut in half made a cute little Baby Jesus.
For the manger, I just took smaller rectangle pieces of graham crackers and made a kind of make-shift manger. (I am no architect so it looked really funny, but that’s okay! It’s the thought that counts right?)
Feel free to get creative with your purchases and your construction work and see what kind of manger you can come up with!
As you can see from my picture, we had more than just the visitors and Holy Family in our nativities.
I included a make-shift star atop my stable. I made this star using ripped in half sour patch kids. But it doesn’t really look like a star, does it? Maybe you can come up with a better star than I did. Or maybe a ripped in half sour patch kid is the perfect kind of star. That’s up to you to decide.
Staffs for the shepherds and shredded coconut for straw were the finishing touches on our gingerbread nativities.
All in all, this was a super fun activity. We usually invite another homeschooling family to make nativities with us, which spreads the joy a little bit farther.
More Ways To Remember Christ This Holiday Season
Gingerbread nativities are one of the simplest ways to remember Jesus Christ during this busy time of year.
But there are plenty of other ways to remember Jesus throughout your holiday celebrations. If you check out this Christmas Countdown article, you’ll find a bunch of other ideas.
NOTE – that link also includes a few secular ideas that are still a lot of fun. But a good chunk of that list includes Christ-centered activities.
Or if you are still looking for ways to remind your kids about the important things this holiday season, this article on teaching kids how to be grateful is another gold mine of information!
What holiday traditions do you have that help your family remember the reason for the season?