This year for Christmas, we had to re-think where and how we would display the outdoor nativity.
This is how we displayed the nativity at our last house, where we lived in the country and had a huge expansive yard. The logs we cut out of the woods from downed trees and I roughly painted ‘wood boards’ on 2 sheets of plywood. It was great for a large yard. But over the years the logs completely rotted out and the lag bolts that held the construction together had nothing left to hold on to. So that, combined with the new very tiny ‘in town’ yard we now have, at our new 100 year old house, the old wood nativity shed served one last purpose… my husband chopped it up after our last Christmas in the country and burned it in the outdoor wood furnace we had there.
Which bring us to present day…
in town with a small yard, compared to the acres of land we had in the country. Our new small yard also includes a public sidewalk that is merely a few feet from our front porch.
However, the porch is quite generously sized, (this is a photo I took right after we bought this property)
So the logical spot for the nativity display is the porch, but with a few considerations. On the right of the porch is actually a carport, which means the porch has 2 paths we need to keep unobstructed, one from the front sidewalk going to the front door, and the other from the side of carport to the front door. And secondly, you can see that there are limestone walls surrounding the porch, so if we want the cars and pedestrians passing our house to see the creche, (which we do) then that means the display will need to be raised up.
OK, long story short… or maybe it is a short story I’ve made long… anyway, here’s what we did, and basically for no cost, (except for the a few hardware pieces, that we probably have, but one can search the junk drawers in the cold garage, barefoot, for so long before one justifies running to the hardware store is easier and faster than freezing one’s toes off and we’ll just save those pieces hidden in the junk drawer for the next project…ha!)
Our nativity resin figurines are at the most 3′ tall. I do love their detailed design and now that they are on the porch, protected from the elements a little better than out in the open yard like previous displays, I hope they last for many years to come.
I drew up some sketches, and after mulling it over with my husband, who agreed to harvest the pallet wood and build the display, we came up with a very simple design, that we can easily take apart and put up again next year, but also, it needed to compact for storing it over the summer. We no longer have the barn for storage, so size is a major concern.
I think our finished design has the suggestion of a nativity shed we associate with the Christmas creche, without the extravagance of having to construct an actual roof and sides for it.
To raise the pallet wood display up, we put stacks of landscape blocks, leftover from another project, under it for just the right height to clear the porch’s limestone walls. (Even though you can’t see the blocks from the street view, once you’re on the porch, you can, so I’m thinking about someway to easily and inexpensively cover the base… maybe velcro and dark fabric around the edge? not sure, I gotta think about it a bit more. Your suggestions are welcome!)
As my husband was harvesting the pallet wood, he found some wider boards from a shipping crate. Those wide boards worked great for the floor of the nativity. He held them together with pallet boards underneath running crosswise to them.
For the back piece, he used pallet wood and a couple pieces of those wider boards from the crate. Then with simple right angle brackets connected the base to the back, adding an angled board to each side for stability.
Then we wrapped Christmas lights around the top along with green burlap-y wrap stuff, (I found at Walmart in the halloween clearance bin) just to soften the lights a bit.
This is now the view from the sidewalk.
It’s still a bit of a work in progress, the string of Christmas lights on the top weren’t enough light at night, so we added the LED Bethlehem star hanging above it. And I’m still contemplating about the base covering along with a few other details.
But for now, it does spread the message of how Christmas to us, is all about celebrating that God loved us so much He sent His son as a small baby to this earth to be the one and only atonement for our sins.
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