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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
Roman, Inc.
$81.99 $141.00
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Roman, Inc. Five Piece Nativity Figurine Set Features: -Five piece figurine set.-Roman exclusive.-Resinstone mix construction.-Hol...iday: Christmas.-Quantity: Set.-Product Type: Figurines & Collectibles; Nativity Set.-Theme: Nativity/Biblical.Dimensions:... read more

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G. Debrekht
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G Debrekht 3 Piece Nativity Ornament Set Illustrated Ornaments. Ornaments are created on a hand-blown thin glass, like in the olde...n times. The G Debrekht paint their miniatures with combination of transparent and opaque paint with multi-layer painting... read more

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Wendell August Forge
$38.99 $49.99
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Wendell August Nativity 3 Piece Ornament Set Find the Meaning of Christmas with this ornament box set from Wendell August. Feature...s: -Set includes 3 ornaments.-Nativity collection.-Hand hammered and formed from aluminum metal.-Made in the USA.-Product... read more

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Candy Cane Lane
$34.75 $139.00
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Cane Lane Holiday Ornaments & Decor 36 in. Nativity Set Hammered Metal Yard Art 66825_THD-MP1
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$417.99 $663.00
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Tree Classics
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The 9-foot Countryside Unlit Artificial Christmas Garland features a wonderful blend of Real-Feel PE and classic PVC needles adorn...ed with pine cones, balls of twigs, acorns, and berries to evoke the captivating warmth of the holidays. read more

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