What are the best Nativity sets?

For many people, Christmas means trimming trees, giving gifts and decorating their home and yard. Santas, reindeer and snowmen are always popular themes, but a Nativity scene is something special. The Nativity scene is a depiction of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem as described in the New Testament, and an important piece of early Christian art.

What do Nativity sets include?

  • Jesus, Mary and Joseph are the heart of any Nativity scene set. As the New Testament recounts, an angel told Joseph to take Mary as his wife, for she had been called upon by God to give birth to God’s son. There was no room at the inn where they stopped in Bethlehem, so they stayed in a stable, where Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus.

  • The stable is portrayed in Nativity scenes as an open-sided structure that stands behind Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It has a roof overhead and looks like a small barn with one side missing.

  • The manger is a wooden trough for holding animal feed. Mary wrapped her just-born baby in swaddling clothes and used the feed trough as a cradle.

  • The Three Wise Men heard about the birth of Jesus and came bearing gifts from the East. They rode across vast deserts on camels, following the Star of Bethlehem. They are also referred to as the Three Kings and the Magi.

  • The Star of Bethlehem is said by today’s astronomers to probably have been Halley’s Comet or a supernova, because no star shines that brightly. Whatever its source, an extraordinarily brilliant light on the sky guided the Three Wise Men all the way to Jesus, Joseph and Mary.

  • Angels from on high add a heavenly touch to any Nativity set. 

  • Animals are a natural part of Nativity sets because sheep, goats, cows and the donkey Mary rode on would be eating and sleeping in the stable, too. 

Surroundings

Fit the size of your Nativity set to its surroundings.

  • Fireplace mantels and shelves: If you want to place your Nativity scene on a narrow ledge, a small set with just a few pieces is a good choice.

  • Tabletops and floors: If you want a display measured in feet rather than inches, choose a large flat surface such as a tabletop or the floor beneath your Christmas tree.

  • Outdoors: If you want to set up a Nativity display in your front yard, it should be large enough that it is not overwhelmed by the size of your lawn. Outdoor displays are usually illuminated at night and need to be rainproof.  

Realistic or symbolic?

The range of artistic interpretations of the Nativity scene is quite wide. At one end, you find cut-out figures that are merely silhouettes in two dimensions, with no features or details. At the other end, you find scenes that are incredibly detailed, hand-painted by artisans with tiny brushes.

Musical accompaniment

There are many Christmas carols that add to the festive occasion and some of them are about the birth of Jesus. When you add a musical background to your Nativity set, make sure you include “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Away in a Manger,” “We Three Kings,” “Star of Wonder,” “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night.” 

Indoor Nativity sets

Best Three Kings Gifts 16-Piece Deluxe Edition Nativity Set

Three Kings Gifts 16-Piece Deluxe Edition Nativity Set

There is real gold, frankincense and myrrh in the chests carried by the Three Wise Men. This set is made of hand-painted polymer resin and finely detailed. The lighted stable adds a warm glow to the scene.

Sold by Amazon

Best Collections Etc. Musical Nativity Scene Tabletop Scene

Collections Etc. Musical Nativity Scene Tabletop Scene

Jesus, Mary and Joseph are surrounded by the Three Kings, two shepherds and an angel. The manger and the star on top light up as “Silent Night” plays when you wind up the key on the base as you would a music box.

Sold by Amazon

Best Napco Holy Family with Star of Bethlehem Christmas Nativity Set

Napco Holy Family with Star of Bethlehem Christmas Nativity Set

This 12-inch-tall resin sculpture has a wood-like look that adds a touch of elegance. The Star of Bethlehem sits at the top of a trio of golden beams of light that surround Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Sold by Amazon

Best Tree of Life Holy Land Olive Wood Hanging Ornament

Tree of Life Holy Land Olive Wood Hanging Ornament

Decorate your holiday tree with this 3-inch handcrafted olive wood stylized silhouette of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the stable with the Star of Bethlehem above. Each ornament is made by hand in Israel. 

Sold by Amazon

Best Loving Memories Indoor Nativity Set with LED Tea Light

Loving Memories Indoor Nativity Set with LED Tea Light

This contemporary sculpture of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is carved from resin that has the appearance of granite. It comes with a LED candle that lights the manger from behind.

Sold by Amazon 

Outdoor Nativity sets

Best Front Yard Originals 6-by-6-Foot Outdoor Nativity Set

Front Yard Originals 6-by-6-Foot Outdoor Nativity Set

These silhouettes of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the stable with two lambs and the Star of Bethlehem overhead are made of weatherproof marine-grade PVC. The pure white color adds to a feeling of peace.

Sold by Amazon

Best Bzb Goods Inflatable Christmas Nativity Scene with Lights

Bzb Goods Inflatable Christmas Nativity Scene with Lights

The Three Wise men arrive at the stable bearing gifts while the Star of Bethlehem shines brightly from above with an LED light. The display is 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and almost 5 1/2 feet tall, and comes with stakes, tether and air blower.

Sold by Amazon

Best Best Choice Lighted Outdoor Nativity Scene

Best Choice Lighted Outdoor Nativity Scene

Light up your front yard with 190 LED lights that stay cool to the touch. Set up the 5-by-6-foot metal frame, connect the wires, secure them with zip ties and stake it into the ground.

Sold by Amazon

Nativity sets for kids

Best Little People Deluxe Christmas Story Nativity Play Set

Little People Deluxe Christmas Story Nativity Playset

Share the spirit of the season with this stable and manger with Jesus, Mary and Joseph surrounded by a dozen Little People figures, including the Three Wise Men. When you press down on the angel atop the stable roof, the Star of Bethlehem lights up.

Sold by Amazon

Best Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Christmas Nativity Play Set

Melissa and Doug Classic Wooden Christmas Nativity Play Set

This company make toys of solid wood, with the goal of igniting imagination and a sense of wonder in kids. Children assemble this four-piece stable themselves and play with the 11 wooden figures.

Sold by Amazon

Best Moinkidz Kids 24-Piece Nativity Scene Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle for Toddlers

Moinkidz Kids 24-Piece Nativity Scene Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle for Toddlers

Preschoolers enjoy this solid wooden puzzle with uniquely cut pieces that are the perfect size for little hands. The characters are cartoonish, as are the colors of the nontoxic paints.

Sold by Amazon

 

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.