Many today consider nativity sets to be a hallmark of the holiday season. In Christian households throughout the world, people set up diverse and wholesome holiday decorations to enrich the holiday spirit in praise and veneration of not just the religious element but also to honor a tradition passed on through the generations. As you would imagine, such a rich tradition involves a multitude of unique artifacts and decorations, which may be why nativity sets have gained such tremendous popularity over the years.
While there isn’t a singular desired standard for nativity sets, most of them tend to share certain characteristics in regards to theme and general aesthetics. Whether you go for a set that was made in an assembly line or if you chose to get one that was carved by hand, you should always value quality more than anything when looking at a nativity set of any design. Not just that but you also want the set to be reasonably sturdy and durable, on account of the fact that you might want to use it again at a later time.
Although there is no shortage of nativity sets to choose from, one must practice restraint when making a purchase because not all sets are built to the same standards. As a matter of fact, some are quite underwhelming construction-wise, especially the cheaper versions. What you want is to take the time and figure out which type of set you want and whether that particular set is in tone with your expectations. To give you a better idea of what’s out there, we put together a list of the ten best nativity sets the market has to offer at this point in time.
Nativity Sets, Reviews
#10 B-E-L-I-E-V-E Nativity Resin Christmas Decoration Set
This cute nativity set from Blossom Buket features a fairly straightforward message displayed in a wholesome fashion. In this set, each individual letter figurine measures around two inches in height and boasts an ingenious design that people tent to enjoy.
We should also point out that it is made of Stone Resin, a construction that makes it very sturdy and durable by most standards. Not just that but the set is also quite inexpensive when compared to other nativity sets out there.
#9 Holy Family 3-Piece 6″ Resin Stoneware Nativity Set
As the name suggests, this set is part of three ingenious pieces, six inches each. The figurines are masterfully crafted to resemble Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus, which due to their impressive size, makes them stand out in almost any decor.
We should also point out that the set is made of resin stoneware and that it features very detailed faces and clothing for the figurines. Not just that but the set also comes in an original box for easy wrapping and storage.
#8 Mikasa Holiday Splendor 8-Piece Nativity Set
This beautiful set represents a stunning approach to figurine nativity, with an ingenious and wholesome design that stands out for all the right reasons. It includes 8 unique pieces depicting Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, three Kings, a Shepherd, and an Angel.
It should be said that among these figurines, the tallest measures around 8 inches in height. Not just that but each individual piece is expertly crafted from white porcelain and detailed quite meticulously with elegant 24-karat gold trim.
#7 Jim Shore Heartwood Creek 9-Piece Mini Nativity Set
With this nativity set, you get a more homely yet intricate design, one that focuses on the nativity scene on a conceptual level. As such, it combines traditional themes with folk art designs in a purely artistic and wholesome fashion.
Interestingly enough, the set features a Jim Shore painting inside the stable for a touch of artistry, along with the hand-painted and handcrafted figurines made of stone resin. We should also point out that the figurines and stable have a total height of 9.75 inches, which is quite impressive by most standards.
#6 Miniature Kids Nativity Scene with Creche
It is very important for a nativity set to not only be pretty but artistic enough that it inspires people to have happy thoughts, which is the quintessential quality of a good nativity set. This is precisely what makes this specific set stand out, a set that will have children overjoyed to play with on account of its expertly crafted figurines.
Speaking of which, these figurines include Mary and Josep, Baby Jesus, the three wise men, and three animals for good measure. What’s more, the 11 pieces in this set can be rearranged if need be on account of their versatile design.
#5 The Real Life Nativity Set
This is one of the most exquisite nativity sets out there, a set that incorporates 23 meticulously hand-painted resin pieces. What’s interesting about this particular set is the fact that the Baby Jesus can be placed in Mary’s arms or in the Manger depending on your personal wishes.
This makes it a perfect tabletop setup if that is what you’re after. Another thing to point out is the three chests that contain real 23k Gold along with authentic Frankincense and Myrrh.
#4 Christmas Nativity Set with Real Frankincense Gold and Myrrh
Equipped with no less than 17 ingenious pieces, this nativity set represents the deluxe edition of a previous version, one that also enjoyed tremendous popularity. This set is hand-painted using polymer resin as each real-life figure features intricate detail to showcase the Nativity story in all its glory.
Furthermore, it should be said that the manger measures 15 inches in width, 10 inches in height, and 4 inches in depth, which makes the set prominent and delightfully obvious, no matter where you set it up inside the house.
#3 Three Kings Gifts The Original Gifts of Christmas 11-Piece Nativity Figurines
This particular set is seen as one of the very best out there on account of the fact that it features real gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Not just that but the figurines themselves are also quite impressive, standing at 9 inches each.
As such, the set contains figurines of Joseph, Mary, a standing shepherd, a kneeling shepherd, an angel, Melchior, Balthazar, Caspar, and a Christmas star, all made of high-quality polymer cast resin. Furthermore, the set includes real authentic frankincense, gold, and myrrh for good measure.
#2 Willow Tree Nativity Nativity Set
A fairly simplistic yet highly popular nativity set, the Willow Tree 6-Piece Set stands out as one of the most popular such sets out there. Not only does the set contains six hand-painted resin figures of Mary, Joseph, shepherd, donkey, and two sheep, but it does so in an elegant and aesthetic fashion.
It also needs to be said that each of the figurines is hand-carved and painted individually for a more wholesome look. Given their unique design, you can lay these figurines out on a table, shelf, or mantel almost anywhere and with minimal preparation.
#1 Fisher-Price Little People A Christmas Story
This fairly inexpensive yet wholesome nativity set from Fisher-Price is considered one of the very best out there, a set that enjoys tremendous popularity at this point in time. What’s interesting about this particular set is the cleverly designed star that lights up while the set plays ‘Away in the Manger’ in a cheerful way.
At the same time, it should be said that the set includes the stable, Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, the Three Wise Men, two donkeys, a camel, a sheep, and a cow. Due to how ingenious yet inexpensive the set is, many consider it one of the best nativity set you can get in preparation for the holidays.
Top 3 Recommended Outdoor Nativity Sets
People often decorate their front yards with nativity sets around the holidays and for good reason, considering how intricate and decorative some of them can get. The sheer creativity of some of these sets is somewhat overwhelming given how inexpensive yet artistic they can be.
That said, not all nativity sets are created equal, not by a long shot. So if you’re in the market for some nativity sets for your garden or front porch, then you better take the time to learn as much as you can about what makes a good nativity set to begin with. To help you through, we put together a list of the top three recommended outdoor nativity sets that you should consider.
#3 Teak Isle Joy Nativity Printed Yard Sign
A yard sign at its core, this decoration is composed of marine grade plastic designed for long-term use. Each of the letters in this set measures 35 inches in height and 23 inches in width, making the whole arrangement quite large in size.
We should point out that the set includes all the required stakes and brackets that you might possibly need to set it up. Furthermore, the set’s exterior signage grade print is remarkably tough and sturdy, which is great considering that you will most likely be setting it up outside the house.
#2 EasyGoProducts EasyGo Outdoor Christmas Nativity Set
Due to how easy this set is to put up, it makes perfect sense for it to enjoy the tremendous popularity that it does. Quite inexpensive despite its size, this nativity decoration is not only easy to set up but also easy to store when you’re done using it.
Quite sturdy and durable, this set will withstand the elements quite well and do so without showing any visible signs of damage. Also worth mentioning is the fact that it is made from durable 14mm thick PVC, which makes it a lot more durable than inflatable decorations.
#1 Outdoor Nativity Store Holy Family Outdoor Nativity Set
This particular set is considered one of the very best outdoor nativity decorations and understandably so. Packing colorful set figures that include Mary, Joseph, the cradle, and a collapsible stable, this set looks quite exquisite and wholesome at the same time. When fully assembled, the set measures 58 inches in width and 44 inches in height, a size that increases its visibility tenfold.
Not just that but the set is also designed to be easy to set up, a construction that allows you to set it up in just a matter of minutes if need be. Overall, it isn’t just a pretty and wholesome decoration but also one that enjoys a fairly sturdy build as well.
What To Look For In A Nativity Set
Once you have taken the decision to invest in a nativity set of any kind, you need to take the necessary steps to ensure that you’re getting the appropriate quality. You do that by looking into the specifics of what exactly makes a good nativity set and whether the assembly meets your artistic needs.
As a matter of fact, people tend to get quite creative with nativity decorations, which may explain why there is so much variety among nativity sets of any kind. Before we get into the specifics, however, we should perhaps figure out what makes a good nativity set and what characteristics to look for when buying one.
The Size – The size of a nativity set should be determined by the available space you have. People tend to set these decorations up in the center of a room, mostly in the dining room if the set is small enough. Once you have figured out which part of the table will be dedicated to the nativity set, you can proceed with arranging the rest of the room around it. It seems that fireplace mantels also work well, especially when setting up a modern nativity scene of sorts.
The Construction – You also want to pay close attention to the construction standards of a nativity set, especially if it’s the type of setup that people interact with. In this respect, a willow tree nativity scene will likely gather a fair amount of attention from an aesthetic point of view, yet the sculpted parts should be sturdy enough to withstand the test of time. Then again, it isn’t just wood or porcelain that manufacturers make the sets from, but other materials like metal, polyresin, and even glass.
The Height – You also want to consider the overall height of the display, not just in regards to how much space the set takes up but also for visibility purposes. It does seem that among nativity sets, those that stand out from afar share a privileged position popularity-wise. It is perhaps for this reason that people gravitate towards life size outdoor nativity sets when setting up outdoor displays because, with nativity sets, visibility is of paramount importance.
The Design – The overall design of a nativity scene should also concern you, whether it is a realistic, semi-abstract, detail-rich, plain, modern, or traditional piece. Among the most popular nativity setups, Fontanini nativity sets enjoy quite the popularity, along with Jim Shore nativity pieces and other such builds made by reputable artists. The main reason here being that hand-crafted sets are usually the most aesthetically pleasing and most likely to set the mood in any environment.
The Craft – It isn’t just the design you want to consider but also the way each particular piece is made. For instance, many people prefer hand-painted and hand-sculpted figurines over commercially built models, mostly because of the craftsmanship that goes into them. It also needs to be said that hand-painted figurines tend to be more detailed, which may also be related to the fact that they involve the use of resin and other moldable materials.
The Weight – It would be wise to understand that your average nativity silhouette can be quite heavy considering the materials these figurines are usually made from. We should point out that the overall weight of the displays usually comes down to the materials used in their construction, with porcelain and glass being by far the heaviest. Not just that but the heavier a nativity set is, the more likely it is that it will withstand the test of time.
The Components – Although the setup for your average nativity set is pretty straightforward, there are a lot of religious and cultural particularities that go into designing each set. For some people, the presence of certain animals in a nativity set takes from its authenticity, which is also a valid point when it comes to the human characters. In this respect, your average ceramic nativity set commonly includes Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus, along with the three wise men and the occasional lamb. Depending on the artist, other animals may also make an appearance in the picture and so do other human characters.
The Stable – When setting up a complex nativity display, one needs to pay very close attention to the details. As such, a common outdoor nativity set will include a stable of sorts, commonly made from wood. Now, even though this may not be historically accurate according to some folks, people tend to include a wooden stable or shelter within the display for a more whimsical look. Bear in mind that not all nativity sets come with a stable, meaning that you may have to improvise something yourself or purchase the stable piece separately.
The Figurines – It is common for nativity sets to include the holy family – Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus. These are the main characters in the Christmas story and it makes perfect sense for nativity sets to focus on them, be it on all of them at once or on an individual basis. It is common for a manger or crib to be involved for Baby Jesus, which may be removed from the crib and placed inside Mary’s arms; or the baby and crib might be made from the same mold, as is the case with inexpensive models. Either way, the nativity scene is pretty straightforward and quite common, be it in an inflatable nativity set, a children’s nativity set, a compact table set, or a larger outdoor set.
The Type – Last but not least, you need to understand that although they all deal with the same subject, there is a certain degree of variation among nativity sets on account of how they’re made. In this respect, you may want to consider which type to get depending on where you want to place it, who will interact with it, and whether you plan on using it again at a later time.
If you have children, for example, you might want to get yourself a lego nativity set or one that was made from sturdy materials. We should point out that many people prefer olive wood for this precise reason, mainly because of how sturdy and durable it is when compared to polyresin, porcelain, or glass. All things considered, the whole selection process usually comes down to personal choice and understandably so.