Just for fun, I took one of our nativity scene sets from The Catholic Company warehouse and decorated it in a few different ways. I wanted to give our customers some ideas for dressing up the nativity figurines they buy from us just a little bit, so that it makes an even more beautiful decoration rather than displaying it right out of the box. It was really easy and inexpensive to do, and the symbolism behind each idea adds more "food for thought" during this time of Advent reflection. I hope this inspires you to more creativity!
My first idea was holly berries. My mother has several giant holly bushes in her yard that always need trimming back, and well before Advent the berries start turning bright red. I snipped a few branches and laid them in and out of the nativity figures to create a cozy holiday effect. And you could also mix it up with other greenery . . . try adding some rosemary stems for contrast as well as great aroma. If you don't have access to real greenery, don't worry, your local craft store is sure to have lots of festive faux-greenery to choose from this time of year. The bonus is that evergreen branches and holly berry leaves have deeper symbolic meaning too: evergreens represent the resurrection and everlasting life, while holly represents the crown of thorns. Rosemary is also one of Our Lady's plants! Your nativity scene then turns into a way to reflect on the self-sacrificial life of Christ.
My second idea was pretty basic but yet turned out really beautifully . . . a straw bed reminiscent of the stable floor the Holy Family used as their bed on that first Christmas night. You can use real straw or synthetic straw from your local craft store. The neutral color of the straw will always offset the coloring of the nativity figures beautifully. Straw also serves as a reminder of the humility of Christ.
My third idea was taken from the snow villages you often see this time of year. I just got some snow-scape stuffing and Christmas lights from the craft store, and layered the lights in between a bottom and top layer of snow. I was sure to create little holes in the snow so the figures both were resting firmly on a hard surface while also looking like they were actually in the snow. This idea especially looked beautiful when the lights were turned out, with a soft, lovely glow lighting up the scene. The snow can also represent the purity of the Holy Family, while the lights can represent Jesus as Light of the World.
What do you think of these ideas? How do you usually decorate your nativity scene?