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Nativity Scenes Buying Guide

Nativity scenes are a familiar Christmas decoration. Some families pass theirs from generation to generation, while others seek out a version that suits their personal holiday style. Most nativity scenes have several key pieces, including Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, and the Angel; sets can be enlarged, too, with additional people and animals.

Types of Nativity Scenes

Types of Nativity Scenes

Inspired by the live nativity scenes churches often hold at Christmastime, nativity scenes for the home can be found in a variety of types, making them a good complement to a range of holiday decorating styles. Based on where you will use yours and how much room you have, there are different types to consider, including wood, porcelain, glass, metal, and other materials, as well as artistic style and indoor versus outdoor use.


Many home nativity scenes are carved out of wood. Review the type of wood to ensure it is long-lasting and to find out what kind of care it needs.

Porcelain or Glass

Porcelain or glass is also often used to create nativity scenes. Because of the material and fabrication style, these nativity scenes may break more easily.


While less common than wood or porcelain, metal -- commonly pewter -- is another material used to create nativity scenes.

Additional Materials

More rare than wood, porcelain, or metal, unusual materials including wax, fabric, terra-cotta, or even woven straw are sometimes used to craft nativity scenes.

Artistic Style

Nativity scenes vary in type based on artistic style. Some are fairly realistic, while others are inspired by folk art. Abstract varieties can also be found.

Painted or Unpainted

The original material used to create the nativity scene can be left unfinished. Or paint or glaze can be applied -- sometimes in very fine detail -- to add color and texture to figurines.

Country of Origin

Germany, Italy, and Spain are just a few of the countries that have specific styles or craftspeople recognized for their nativity scene creations.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

While most nativity scenes are used indoors, others are designed for display outside. Make sure to review how the materials will stand up to temperatures and precipitation.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Even after you've settled on the type of nativity scene that would best complement your holiday decorating, there are purchase considerations to review. Some nativity scenes come in sets of varying sizes, while others allow you to add individual pieces as budget allows. Many include a manger, pyramid, or base as a backdrop for the nativity scene. The size of the pieces should also be a consideration before buying a nativity scene.

Sets vs. Individual Pieces

Some nativity scenes are sold as sets, which typically include at least Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus; others have shepherds, the Magi, and an angel. If you would like to add to your set over time, make sure you can purchase pieces from year to year.

Manger, Pyramid, or Base

Whether sold as part of a set or individually, a manger, pyramid, or base provides a good backdrop and focal point for a nativity scene.


Nativity scenes vary in size from several inches to several feet high. Plan where you will place and store yours before deciding on size.

Holiday on sale

Richard Glaesser
$194.99 $292.50
at Wayfair

RGR1002: Features: -Natural Wood Pyramid.-When candles are lit, the heat turns paddles!. Dimensions: -Dimensions: 11.5'' H x 9.5''... W. read more

Wood Nativity Scene in Blue with Wisemen Pyramid
$65.99 $84.99
at Wayfair

FTN1391: Features: -Figure: 5 (Not included). Dimensions: -Overall Dimensions: 5.25 H x 10.25 W x 5 D, 2.42 lbs.

Animal Corral for Nativity Figurine, Christmas, Individual Item
$12.49 $24.98
at Boscov's

This lovely Nativity set from Lemax includes 14 beautiful detailed pieces. This Lemax Christmas village figurine will coordinate w...ith most Lemax Christmas villages and will also coordinate with other Christmas villages in the same scale, such as Department 56 and Carole Towne. Approximate size 3.54Hx5.12Wx2.17D. read more

14pc. Nativity Set
KESS InHouse
$58.99 $92.99
at Wayfair

KESS InHouse Christmas Remix by Heidi Jennings Holiday Decorative Doormat Show off your sense of style before you even set foot in...side with Kess InHouse decorative Door Mat. Set the perfect mood while entering your home, guests and friends will love... read more

KESS InHouse Christmas Remix by Heidi Jennings Holiday Decorative Doormat HJ1027AFM01
Yankee Candle Company

A juicy, sweet blend of fresh-picked, tender peaches, plump strawberries and delightful raspberries. About Large Jar Candles: The ...classic Yankee Candle shape and 22-oz. size combine to make our longest burning candle. Perfect for your go-to fragrances.... read more

Peaches & Berries Large Jar Candle - Yankee Candle
Yankee Candle Company

The rich Christmas aromas of crisp evergreen and sweet figs with sugar and vanilla. About Medium Jar Candles: The classic Yankee C...andle shape in our medium 14.5-oz size. Each is made in America with premium-grade paraffin and infused with the finest... read more

Mistletoe & Fig Medium Jar Candle, Fresh Scent - Yankee Candle
Yankee Candle Company

Dress up your jar candles! Perfect when giving a candle as a gift or to decorate when your candle is not lit. (Not for use on a li...t candle) About This Accessory: Enhance the look of any jar candle with a hand-painted jar topper. Designed to fit our... read more

Reindeer Hat Jar Candle Topper - Yankee Candle
Balsam Hill

The 10 feet BH Fraser Fir Meadow Artificial Christmas Garland are home decor pieces for every season. Exhibiting stunning realism,... the foliage duplicates the dark green-toned tips and silver undersides of its real-life counterpart, a feat possible only through our exclusive TRUE NEEDLE™ technology. The sophisticated green-on-green attribute with its adornment of eucalyptus, cypress, and boxwood leaves provides an overall verdant appeal read more

10' BH Fraser Fir Meadow Artificial Christmas Garland - Clear
Balsam Hill

A masterful combination of two of the world's finest Christmas trees, the Fraser fir and Balsam fir, our 10 feet Wintry Woodlands ...Artificial Christmas Garland emanates the magic and splendor of the holidays. Crafted with our exclusive TRUE NEEDLE™ technology, this holiday wreath features the most realistic blend of premium BH Balsam Fir™, BH Fraser Fir™ and fresh-green pine needles. Adorned with dusted pine cones, silvery eucalyptus leaves, and green berries, our Wintry Woodlands artificial Christmas wreath has a sheen that brightens even the darkest of winter evenings. With our Wintry Woodlands Christmas wreath, your home will radiate the magnificence that only our yuletide accent brings. read more

10' Wintry Woodlands Artificial Christmas Garland - Clear

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