I have a couple of dollar store nativity sets that the Hooligans have been playing with for over a decade, and they’re sweet, but they’re showing their age. Some pieces are chipped, and the donkeys and cows are missing an ear here and a hoof there because they’ve been dropped so many times. So three years ago, I put on my thinking cap and came up with this kid-friendly, unbreakable toilet roll nativity set for the kids to play with, and it was such a hit with the Hooligans that I spent several evenings leading up to Christmas making each of them a set of their own.
This set does take some time to make, but if you’re crafty, you’ll have fun with it. Plus, it’s absolutely adorable, and it will provide your little ones with hours of entertainment and imaginative play in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Because I made this nativity set long before I started blogging, I didn’t take pictures of the process, so I’m just going to tell you what supplies you’ll need, and give you the basic how-to.
Supplies for toilet roll nativity set:
- Glue gun
- toilet rolls (or paper towel rolls/wrapping paper rolls)
- card stock or construction paper in skin tones (to cover the head half of the tube)
- fabric scraps for cloaks
- smaller scraps for head coverings
- felt for king’s crown
- elastics (to keep head covering on)
- wool or trim to cover elastics
- buttons, beads, craft jewels for embellishments on cloaks/crown
- pipe cleaners for shepherd’s hook and halos
- artificial flower for angel’s wings
- fine tip markers for face/pale pink marker for cheeks
How to make a homemade nativity set from cardboard rolls:
Cut your cardboard rolls into various heights, depending on how tall/short you want your characters. For baby Jesus, I think I cut the tube in half, and then cut that tube up the middle and squeezed it together a bit to make it tinier. Tape it back together.
Cut a strip of skin coloured construction paper or card stock and glue that to the “head” half of your tube. That’s your character’s face.
Now get your fabric scraps. Cut a rectangle that will start under the character’s face and extend to the bottom of your tube. If you’re folding the edges of your fabric under to prevent fraying, allow for that bit of extra that you’re folding. Glue the fabric to your toilet roll. With some of the more rustic fabrics I used, I actually wanted them to fray so I didn’t bother folding the edges under.
For the head covering, you may want to play around with a piece of paper towel to get the shape right, and use that as a pattern. Cut your head covering out, and using an elastic band, secure it to the top end of the toilet roll. Glue a piece of wool or ribbon or trim over the elastic to hide it.
Draw your character’s face on, and use a pale pink marker or crayon or pencil crayon to make the cheeks rosy. Do not use a crappy dark pinky-purple marker like I did for Mary and Baby Jesus. This wasn’t the look I was going for.
Now have some fun with your embellishements. Add some buttons to the cloaks, some jewels to the King’s crown, and some fancy trim to the angel’s dress. Glue pipe cleaner halos to the angel and baby jesus, and a shepherd’s hook to the shepherd.
To make the manger, I cut a toilet roll in half, and then opened it up like a cradle. I glued a couple of strips of tube to the bottom so it wouldn’t rock (if you get what I mean). I used a hairbrush to fray some beige wool, and I glued that in the manger to look like straw.
These photos were taken today. You can see what great shape the characters are in, after being played with in my daycare for 3 years. I can say without a doubt that this project was absolutely worth the time and effort that I put into it! :)
To see all of our easy and affordable Christmas crafts and activities for kids, click the link to visit my Hooligans Xmas Board on Pinterest.
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