Our Nativity Scene Christmas Card

I'm getting most of our Christmas cards out today. It's the 12th day of Christmas so it still counts, right? The rest will probably go out tomorrow as I have to get more stamps.

I normally don't do shameless bragging posts, but I have to say I am proud about how our Christmas card picture turned out. I've wanted to do a setup like this ever since Elanor and William were little, but I was never able to pull it together until this year.

The (un)holy family :P
I started scouting thrift stores for costume accessories in mid-November. I should have hit the costume stores right after Halloween to try and find some suitable ones on clearance, but I didn't think of that in time, unfortunately. I looked a bit online but didn't find much. I did find these super-cheap Nativity play costumes at Oriental Trading Company, but it was still more than I wanted to spend per costume. They were my last-resort idea if I couldn't find anything appropriate at thrift stores.

However, I hit Goodwill one day, and found two king-size brown pillowcases ($2.50 each) and a plaid cloth belt ($0.99). I used these to make William's "Joseph" costume. I used the headdress tutorial here to make his headgear from the first pillowcase. In the second pillowcase, I cut a neck hole using scissors, and made armholes using a seam ripper. I used one of his shirts as a rough guide for how big the holes should be and where they should be placed. I also found a long-sleeved brown shirt at Goodwill (I think it was $2.00), which he wore under the costume, along with black corduroy pants (I didn't really worry about pants or shoes because I figured they wouldn't show in the picture, and I was right).

I also found a narrow blue tablecloth at Goodwill ($2.50) which I used for Elanor's "Mary" shawl. I didn't do anything to it other than drape it around her. Under the shawl, she's wearing a white dress that was part of her Halloween costume (she was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and wore the white cotton dress under a blue checked bib apron - it was her costume last year, too. I think I paid $10 for it at Kara's Halloween costume auction in summer 2012 or so). For her veil, I hand-sewed a blue pillowcase I already had in my linen closet to a blue headband. (I'm using "sew" in the loosest sense of the word - just a few quick stitches here and there. Safety pins probably would have worked as well.) I anchored it to her hair using bobby pins, as the headband by itself kept slipping.

Violet's angel costume stumped me for a while. I looked for a plain white dress in her size both at Goodwill and online, but couldn't find anything that would really work that was in my budget. Then I realized I could just use one of my myriad white T-shirts. The one she's wearing is my Phoenix Catholic Women's Conference shirt, which has a design on the back but is plain in front. She's also wearing white tights and silver shoes (both ones we had on hand, but you can't see them in the picture).

I found some mini-Christmas tree silver garland at Target (9 ft for $2), which is basically tinsel made with flexible wire, and used that to make her belt and halo. For her halo, I fashioned the garland into a halo shape and wrapped it around a white headband. (If I could do it over, I'd make the halo a bit shorter, but at the time I was in a hurry - it was the last thing I did.) I thought about trying to do wings out of tinfoil or something but decided I wasn't that ambitious, since they probably wouldn't be seen anyway. (She wanted to wear purple fairy wings but I talked her out of it.)

Gabriel simply wore the cow Halloween costume that I bought at Once Upon a Child for $5 a few years ago. He's the second kid so far to wear it.

I swaddled Peter in his blue Miracle Blanket (given to me by Leila when Gabriel was a newborn) as baby Jesus. I have a beige Miracle Blanket too but didn't have it on hand that day. Still, I think the blue one worked just fine.

I set everything/everyone up and used my actual digital camera (not my iPhone) to take the picture. I put Peter's carseat on top of a table, draped the white bedsheet over it, and put Peter inside. Violet is standing on top of the table behind him. I took six shots total and this one was the first and best, as well as being the only one where Peter wasn't crying (he didn't like being outside; it was a little chilly). Elanor wasn't looking at the camera, but oh well - it almost looks like she's praying, which works too.

Next year's pic won't be nearly as adventurous, I'm afraid, but I'm glad I did this at least once. Maybe I'll try re-creating it in 10 years and see what happens. :)


  1. New reader here! I have Christmas cards already printed and had hoped to have them postmarked by today (so as to still be technically in the Christmas season) but it's just not going to happen. Glad to know I'm in good company.

  2. I am IN LOVE with this idea!!! Kudos to you! The costumes came out so nicely!!! What a beautiful set of children you have!!!


    Bless you guys!


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