Recently, I was chatting with my five-year-old about the upcoming holiday and had one of those “crawl under the table and hide because I’m so embarrassed” moments. You know those moments where you wonder, “Where did I go wrong as a mom?” When I casually asked my son what Christmas was all about, he answered nonchalantly, “It’s about not being on the naughty list and getting presents.”
Now, five-year-olds are just getting to that age where they comprehend the true meaning of Christmas and can remember it year to year, so I didn’t beat myself up too badly. But seriously?! He just had to say it was all about the presents, didn’t he? I knew an intervention of sorts was called for, and I decided a Christmas craft would be a great place to start. But not the traditional Christmas tree or snowman crafts…this situation called for a truly meaningful creation that would help my little one remember the Christmas story, and why we celebrate this precious day of Jesus’ birth.
So we sat down one afternoon and made a baby Jesus and His beloved manger bed. This craft was so easy and my kindergartner was able to help. It also used items I already had around the house, so it was easy and inexpensive! The template, which you can download below, was hand-drawn for the dimensions of our wooden peg (Baby Jesus), but you can adapt it easily to fit your supplies by lengthening or widening accordingly.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own Christmas Manger Craft:
- Scrap pieces of cardboard or a cereal box cut into the manger pieces using this free downloadable template
- Craft straw or straw-colored gift bag filler
- One wooden peg
- Permanent markers or paint pens
- One or two cotton balls
- A scrap of fabric
- Hot glue, craft glue, or double-sided tape
First, cut out your manger pieces, and fold it lengthwise along the dotted lines on the template. I also cut a small tab at each end where it was folded to help it fit against the manger ends better.
Next, using the glue or tape of your choice, attach the ends of the manger to the body piece. I love the durability of hot glue, so that’s what I chose to use. You may need to hold the pieces in place until your glue cools. Once the manger is together, have your little one help you add a cotton ball to the inside of the manger bed with glue, and some straw.
Now it’s time to create your baby Jesus! We drew a small curl, sleeping eyelashes, and a mouth on the wooden peg with the markers. You could also use doll hairpieces or yarn if you’d like to add some texture to the hair.
We cut a small rectangle of scrap fabric and wrapped it around the wooden peg baby, securing it with glue.
Luke adores his baby Jesus in the manger! And I’m sure once we get all the Christmas decorations out, it will have a special place to be viewed by the whole family.
We couldn’t just make a manger craft without talking about the whole amazing Christmas story! So, after our craft time, we snuggled up with some hot chocolate and The Story of Christmas board book that we love.
We read through the story together and chatted about how the manger in the story was just like the one that we had made, and how important that little baby was. My little one knows well the Easter story, so it really clicked for him once he realized that this little baby was the same perfect man who died for his sins!