Displaying a collection can be a little tricky… sometimes whatever the collection subject matter is, it can look a bit busy, losing all the original visual interest of the items… Here are some ways I’ve displayed our Christmas nativity collection this year to try to avoid that.
In the dining room of our 100 year old house, we have this old cupboard. (You can read more here about how it came from an old house we lived in 25 years ago… being used in the cellar for canning storage.)
Now used for display in our dining room, some of the items on the shelf get moved around, the vintage set of white dishes stay on display on the shelves all the time, but obviously the other items get changed seasonally, like the Christmas items on here.
This year as I was pulling the Christmas decorations out and setting them around the house, I realized that I’ve collected a few nativities and thought it might be fun to display them more like a collection. So this is where some of the Christmas nativity collection is displayed.
You can see how I concentrated the nativities down the center of the cupboard, keeping a pretty symmetrical feel to the display design… not feeling though, that I needed to do every single shelf, but being conscious of balancing the heavier (visually larger) pieces… such as the very large one at the bottom with little around it on that shelf… And then on the shelf above that lower one, the two smaller ones are balancing each other as they flank the bold green Christmas tree plate. I also like, visually, that the tall skinny nativity is on the very top shelf, that seems to fit with the other tall skinny pieces up there.
Most of the nativities are vintage, bringing with them their simple vintage charm…
Like this small ceramic nativity probably from the mids 50’s. I have it next to this Christmas tree plate my mom made in ceramics class when I was a little girl.
On the other side of the plate, is displayed this very simple paper and glitter nativity in the original box. I found this little cutie at a church meatball supper and sale this fall. (Lutheran Norwegian meatball suppers are quite a common occurrence around here) With this little paper nativity, having the original box, and in such great condition, is an asset, so I left that out on display along with it, which actually gives the small nativity just the right amount of height for displaying too.
Here’s the tall skinny nativity shed on the top shelf. I found it at a garage sale:
The pieces are all glued onto the nativity shed. It’s pretty in it’s mostly brown and tan tones.
This Christmas nativity came from an online garage sale site. It’s not vintage, but still pretty and the largest of this collection, so displayed on the bottom shelf of the antique cupboard.
My granddaughter really wanted to set the display for it up and she did a great job… I think it’s cute how the donkey is up on the loft, I guess she figured it would have used the ladder.
One more little nativity tucked in between some antique dishes, is this little vintage molded plastic one. It’s sweet in its appearance, true, but this little nativity has an even sweeter memory attached to it.
When my daughter was a young girl, maybe around 9 or 10 years old, a neighbor across the street was having a yard sale. This little nativity ornament was being sold for something like a dime. My daughter bought it, without my knowledge, kept it tucked away in her dresser for all those months, and then gave it to me for a Christmas present that year.
Since we’re talking sentimental and all…
In the living room built in bench that the staircase wraps around we have this:
Our precious 1st nativity. Oh so many years ago, my mother in law gave me the unpainted ceramic figures with little pots of paint in a DIY kit for my 1st Christmas present from her as her daughter-in-law. (I had great fun that 1st Christmas painting them too!) The same year, my dad made just the right size wooden nativity shed for these short and chubby little figurines.
This year our 5 year old grandson set up the figures for this nativity. Without any instruction as he was placing the figures, he put the baby Jesus in the center and all of the people and animals, (except the one camel in back corner) adoringly around baby Jesus. There is something innocently precious about that. He just knew that the baby was the center, even though most of the other figures are painted more vibrantly, especially the wisemen, but our young grandson, just understood that it was the baby to be the central figure here.
And then, just a few days ago, I found this nativity on Craigslist…
This is a Sears & Roebuck Co. mail-order Christmas nativity set. It came totally complete with all the paper mache figures, the shed, even the little old light bulb and original cardboard box it was mailed in.
I bought it from the adult son of the lady it used to belong to… as I was examining it before the actual purchase took place, I was thinking out loud how it was so sweet and charming… and his mother’s… all I could think to ask him was if he was sure he didn’t want to keep it and display it himself instead of sell it to me. He just looked at me, sort of dumbfounded and said, “me? oh, no.” Who knows what the story behind that is, but I’m thrilled to display this in our living room.
In the upstairs guest bathroom, which was a bedroom, we converted into a much needed 2nd bathroom, is a partial wall with a little antique stained glass window built into it. (I’ve shared this window in a wall design idea with you a few times) Sitting on that created window ledge is a miniature glass nativity scene.
It’s so subtle, and the glass figurines in front of the antique glass seem just perfect to me.
Hope some of these Christmas nativity collection display ideas inspire you while you’re displaying some of your treasured Christmas decorations too, I’d love to hear about it!
We have one more nativity scene… it’s outside. Next time I’ll show you how we’ve displayed that nativity outside… it’s a little different than last year…
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