One of my favourite parts of helping put up the Christmas decorations as a child was setting up the nativity set. Every year I would display it in a small window by our front door and proudly decorate it with cotton wool snow.
Traditional nativity sets are beautiful but they can look out of place in a modern home. If you have kids you might also want to consider a more child-friendly nativity scene that can be played with – kids love doll play sets so this makes a great Christmas toy, whether you’re a religious family or not.
I found some amazing modern, minimalist, unusual and funny nativity sets in my search. Here are the best of the bunch:
This colourful and tropical Nativity set makes a nice change to the snow covered scenes as it’s actually a lot more true to the real thing! It includes 15 different friendly-looking pieces and looks great on display
This nativity puzzle is a great alternative to a traditional nativity set to give as a gift to a Child at Christmas. It’s cleverly designed to include all the main characters in abstract form and all slots together under the stable roof. The pieces can also be taken out and stood up to form a nativity display. Available from Etsy.
A beautiful and unusual nativity scene, made entirely from paper rolled tightly to achieve the 3D effect. Available from Etsy.
This unusual nativity set is made from wood, raffia and twine and would look great in a room decorated in a shabby chic style or as part of a Christmas display using natural materials. Available from Etsy.
This gorgeously simple and minimal wooden nativity scene is handmade from beech wood in Slovenia and includes 6 pieces. It would look beautiful on display in any home. Available from Etsy.
Story stones are a great way to improve literacy and communication skills in young children and these wonderfully illustrated and tactile story stones are wonderful for teachers or parents to display and encourage storytelling with kids. Available from Etsy.
This Playmobil nativity set is fantastic for kids to play with at Christmas and also looks great as a decoration. As well as the usual figures it comes with some cute accessories like a pot boiling over a fire and a working lantern (batteries required).
This is another great nativity set for kids with cute chunky figures that are easy for little hands to hold and play with. The stable is also battery operated so it plays music and the hay in the manger glows when baby Jesus is placed in it. Opening and closing the doors also makes fun animal noises. You can make the angel on the roof spin round by sliding the star up and down the roof. A lovely gift for any small child at Christmas that can be brought out and played with year after year.
These gorgeous handpainted wooden blocks make an unusual and attractive Christmas nativity display that just begs to be played with. Available from Etsy.
This pop up cardboard nativity set is fun and easy to set up with pop out pieces that slot together to form standing figures. The box forms the background for the scene and acts as storage for the pieces when you’re ready to put it away. A great Christmas activity for kids.
The pieces in this unique nativity set are made from leaded crystal, crafted in Germany. This set would look lovely twinkling under some fairy lights. Available from Etsy.
This unusual and cute nativity set is ideal for display and for playing with. They are designed by a Swedish illustrator and made from moulded plastic. Available from Not on The High Street.
These adorable Japanese kokeshi dolls make a wonderful nativity display and are also fun for little ones to play with. Get your own set on Etsy
This beautiful nativity scene is made from natural materials including barn wood, old fencing, glacier stones and river stones. Available from Etsy.
This unusual nativity scene is handbeaded by the Huichol people of central mexico and makes a colourful and unique addition to your Christmas decor. Available from Etsy.
Needle felted figures are very popular in Waldorf schools and this beautiful work of art would be an amazing addition to a Christmas display along with natural materials either in such a school or at home. I love the intimacy of this scene and the fact that Mary is cuddling the baby jesus instead of looking at him in his manger. This is a true work of art. Available from Etsy.
This fun modern nativity scene is produced by the Italian designer homewares label, Alessi, and comes in a red, white or gold version. It’s made from porcelain and there are additional figures available.
This unusual concept for a nativity scene reduces the characters to simple wooden blocks with the name of each figure written on it. An amusing alternative nativity display that is also safe for toddlers and babies to play with. Available from Etsy.
This sweet little minimalist nativity set from Lisa Angel homewares is made from white porcelain and would look gorgeous in any home. It comes with 11 figures and costs £25 from Not on The High Street.
Star Wars Nativity Scene
This handmade geeky nativity set would make a great gift for any Star Wars fan. It’s moulded from fimo modelling clay and includes 8 figures. Available from Etsy.
This paint your own nativity set makes a fun Christmas activity scene for kids and allows you to personalise your nativity in any way you choose. Available from Etsy.
This wooden nativity set reduces the figures to simple blocks and is great to display in modern homes. It’s also designed to be safe for children to play with. Available from Etsy.
Modern Block Nativity Set
This modern take on a traditional nativity scene features wooden blocks made from maple, walnut and cherry wood with laser-etched illustrations of baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, wisemen, star, angel and animals. They’re great either to display or for kids to play with. Available from Etsy.
This cute and modern nativity set is made from magnetic triangles from wood and felt and can be displayed on the fridge or any metal surface like a whiteboard. There are 16 pieces in all and you can either arrange them to form one large triangle or in any arrangement you like. £25 from Not on The High Street.