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How to Arrange a Nativity Scene

Arrange the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and additional characters to form the perfect nativity scene.


  • Step 1: Choose a location Choose a location to set up the nativity scene where it will be visible and well lit without blocking traffic. Nativity scenes can be arranged indoors or outdoors.
  • Step 2: Center the Christ child Center the manger, or the trough that the Christ child sleeps in, in the stable. On Christmas morning, put the Christ child in the manger.
  • Step 3: Place Mary and Joseph on either side Place Mary and Joseph on either side of the manger. Usually Mary is the closest.
  • Step 4: Set the secondary characters in concentric circles Set the shepherds and the wise men in concentric circles around the stable. As the wise men were thought to be the last to arrive, put them the furthest away in the nativity scene.
  • TIP: Move the wise men into the stable on the Epiphany, on January 6th. This is celebrated as the day the wise men reached the Christ child.
  • Step 5: Arrange the animals Arrange the animals in the nativity scene. Place the sheep with shepherds, the camels with the wise men, and any other animals in the stable.
  • Step 6: Put the angels on the roof Finish arranging the nativity scene by putting the angels on the roof of the stable. If there is no place for them on the roof, place them around the family inside the stable, where they can bring glad tidings and great joy to both the holy family and the viewers of your scene.
  • FACT: St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in a small town in Italy on Christmas in the year 1223.

You Will Need

  • Stable
  • Manger
  • Christ child
  • Mary
  • Joseph
  • Shepherds
  • 3 wise men
  • Animals
  • Angels

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