Top 20 Picks for an Outdoor Nativity Set [+Add Ons]
If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Christmas outside this year, an outdoor Nativity set is the perfect option. Whether you’re going all out with a life-sized manger scene or just want to add a touch of festivity to your yard, there are many styles and sets available that will work well for any space.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best options on the market so that you can find the one that’s right for you! We give preference to outdoor Nativity sets made in the USA.
We’ll also cover the history of the Nativity as well as create a list of all the characters you might want in an outdoor Nativity set.
Or, maybe you have a Nativity set for your yard, but you’re looking to add on to it. Nativity add-ons are an economical way to build your Nativity scene year after year.
If you need outdoor yard lights to highlight your outdoor nativity set, we have you covered for that as well.
As always, when available, we give you background on the companies that make the products you want to buy.
History of the Nativity Scene
Upon his return from the Holy Land, Saint Francis of Assisi was inspired to create live Nativity scenes so that people could experience a part of Christmas. The first time this happened? 1223 in Greccio, Italy!
Upon his return from the Holy Land, Saint Francis of Assisi was inspired to create live nativity scenes in order that people could experience a part of Christmas. The first time this happened? 1223 in Greccio, Italy!Christmas Night Inc.
The outdoor Nativity scene has been growing in popularity with enthusiasts around the world. A tradition started in Europe, outdoor Nativity scenes have been popularized across North America with many families making their own outdoor Nativity sets for themselves or as outdoor decorations for their community.
Churches create live, drive-through Nativity scenes. The Nativity set comes alive through some of the world’s most well-known passion plays, such as the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany or the The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
What is an historically accurate Nativity scene?
A Nativity set, sometimes called a manger or crèche, has very few pieces, historically speaking, from a biblical perspective.
At first, Nativities consisted of live people and animals. But as more and more people wanted to have their own Nativity sets, those real-life characters were replaced with statues. For the regular person, that meant miniature-sized versions that could be placed in homes on a mantel or table.
When it comes to what to place in an historically accurate Nativity scene, we’re more guided by early Christian art and traditions than biblical stories, which say little about the actual surroundings of the birth of Christ.
We can be fairly sure about the presence of Mary and Joseph and the Christ child himself. Also, he was placed in a manger. In some traditions, the baby Jesus is not placed into the manger until Christmas Eve.
From the biblical text of Luke, we know that shepherds were present. The shepherds were notified of the birth of Christ by an angel.
The three wise men (Magi) who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh are included in the gospel of Matthew’s account of Christ’s birth. They were not there at the actual birth but appeared at a later time, the exactness of which is debated by biblical scholars.
Often, in a Nativity scene, you will see the wise men placed slightly away from the manger to show that they were on their way.
The little donkey, sheep, and oxen (and camels brought by the 3 wise men) are not actually mentioned in biblical descriptions of the Nativity.
Learn more in this slideshow as Pope Francis describes the symbolism of each figure in the Nativity scene.
Other Nativity Scene Characters
- Animals often include the donkey, one or more camels, an ox, and sheep.
- The angel Gabriel
- Star of Bethlehem
- Additional angels
- Multiple shepherds and shepherd boy
- Noble men and women
How to Arrange a Nativity Scene
Other than the Holy family (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus), you have the traditional figures of the 3 Magi and the shepherds. Often the Star of Bethlehem is placed at the top of the stable – the wooden structure that contains the Nativity.
Mary and Joseph should be immediately around the manger where the Christ child lies. Mary is often positioned kneeling with Joseph standing.
The 3 Magi (wise men) are placed to the side to make it look like they are on the way.
The shepherds and shepherd boy should be placed so that they appear to be looking upon baby Jesus with adoration. The angel that brought the message to the shepherds can be placed in the scene as well.
The animals may be placed around the nativity as you have room.
What outdoor Nativity set is right for you?
To help you get started in selecting your own outdoor Nativity set, here are four things to consider.
1. Size: There are many sizes of outdoor Nativity sets available on the market, from simple tabletop nativity sets to life-sized manger scenes that require ladders to reach the top of the figures.
If space is an issue, consider a tabletop outdoor nativity set that can be placed on a patio table. If you have lots of space and want to make an impact with your outdoor decorations, go for one of the larger outdoor Nativity sets.
A 3-foot outdoor Nativity set is just as festive as a larger outdoor nativity set, but it does take up less space.
2. Style: An outdoor Nativity set comes in different styles, with scenes ranging from classic to contemporary. If you have a specific look or theme for your outdoor decorations this year, consider an outdoor Nativity set that matches it. For example, if you’re going for a rustic holiday decorating scheme then purchase one of the beautiful wood outdoor nativity sets that are available on the market today.
If you want something more traditional and don’t mind spending some extra money on your outdoor Christmas decoration, go for a high-quality resin outdoor Nativity set. Resin is made out of plastic but looks like ceramic without being as fragile so is perfect if children will be handling it frequently or there’s lots of snow where you live.
3. Price: An outdoor nativity set can be purchased at a wide range of price points, from affordable outdoor Nativity scenes that will work well for small gardens to more expensive outdoor life-size Nativity sets.
When it comes to selecting where to put an outdoor nativity set, think in terms of how you want it to be viewed. Is the Nativity set meant to be enjoyed by those driving by or is is more for your family? Consider how big your setneeds to be in order for it to properly display the outdoor nativity scene you want to create.
For example, an outdoor Nativity set that’s life-sized will be more expensive than one of the smaller, compact scenes. That being said, if money is no object or this is a gift for someone special in your life, go ahead and purchase a beautiful full-size outdoor nativity set. It will look stunning on the lawn!
4. Material: An outdoor nativity set can be made out of a variety of materials, from wood to resin. Consider what kind of outdoor Nativity set you want and then choose an appropriate material for it.
If you have children or pets that may come into contact with the outdoor Nativity scene, consider going with a more durable material. Treated wood is also made-to-last year after year.
Full Outdoor Nativity Set in 6 Styles
With all of our product reviews, we pay a lot of attention to the companies manufacturing or importing the items. When we can, we give preference to American-Made products, but only if the majority of that company’s products receive favorable to very favorable reviews.
When it comes to front doors and outdoor decor, you can find plenty of Made-in-the-USA products. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that fact!
Style 1 – Front Yard Originals
Let’s start with the Michigan-based company Front Yard Originals. The company started in 2014 with the mission to make outdoor “Nativity displays to Christian households across America,” according to their website.
“From day one, customers loved our unique silhouette style designs, the quality of the material and that they were made in America. Many even wrote to thank us for making such beautiful displays that allowed them to tastefully celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.”
With a Front Yard Originals outdoor Nativity set, you can start with a few pieces, adding on over time, or begin with a full set in large or medium sizes.
Let’s review the key advantages for a Front Yard Originals outdoor Nativity set:
- Manufactured in the USA
- Made from all-weather, durable marine grade PVC plastic
- Wind resistant
- Mold/Mildew resistant
- Won’t rot or delaminate
- 30-day return policy as long as the item is in unused condition in the original box
- Includes all stakes and hardware
- Can be painted with most outdoor paints
- You can reverse the orientation of most pieces
- Buyers report great assembly instructions
Style 2 – Teak Isle
It might be hard to imagine that a manufacturer of boat and marine equipment would branch out and offer an outdoor Nativity set, but that’s exactly what a Florida company did.
For more than four decades, Teak Isle Mfg has been providing hundreds of companies with marine grade plastic. Disney, Bass Pro Shop, SeaRay, and Gulfstream are among their many customers. Teak Isle employs more than 200 employees at its Ocoee, Florida, plant.
So, why start manufacturing outdoor Nativity sets? It comes down to American resourcefulness and responsibility to the community.
“Our Nativity Sets helped save jobs during a challenging economic time and continue to be a tremendous blessing by offsetting the seasonality of our primary business of marine manufacturing,” according to Teak Isle.
“While brainstorming ways to keep our employees working, we remembered years back cutting Nativity Sets for a local Christmas tree farm. We decided to revisit the design to make it extra-durable and easy to disassemble for compact storage and shipping. We not only saved jobs that year, but also created jobs moving forward thanks to our loyal customers!”
Key Advantages of the Teak Isle Nativity Set:
- Made in the USA out of durable, proven marine-grade plastic
- The print is exterior signage-grade that stands up to weather conditions year after year
- Arrives in compact packaging that can be used for storage
- Designed for easy assembly
- Comes with staking kits meant to withstand weather conditions
- Returnable with reasonable requirements, such as it needs to be in mint-condition in original packaging.
Style 3 -Outdoor Nativity Store
The Outdoor Nativity Store was started by the Hubers in 2008 in Southern California. The mission of the company was to create durable nativity scenes at affordable prices.
Looks to us that achieved that mission!
“Today our outdoor nativity sets share the good news of Jesus throughout America and around the world. We are glad to share our JOY for the true meaning of Christmas and hope that even more people will come to know our Savior!” according to the company website.
Owner Norb Huber writes in his blog, “Show the world, show your neighborhood, tell everyone about this baby born 2,000 years ago in a distant place who reigns today in the hearts and lives of those who believe.”
- 12 color outdoor nativity set figures
- Collapsible stable and stakes; compact storage
- Assemble in minutes; only a hammer needed
- All-weather, fade-resistant PVC plastic.
- Made in the USA
- Designed to withstand rain, snow, harsh sunlight, and strong winds
Style 4 – Three Kings Gifts
The Maryland-based importer Three Kings Gifts started with a tour of the market in Muscat, Oman. The owner was struck to see that frankincense and myrrh were being sold.
“I was touched by a simple idea: Here are the Gifts of the Magi – the real, actual gifts they had given,” writes the creator of Three Kings Gifts. “I couldn’t help but think that everyone would enjoy this same experience – this connection to the Original Gifts of Christmas.”
Among their new products this year is a 12-piece life-size Nativity scene. The way the figures are painted gives the illusion that these are 3D characters.
Key advantages include:
- Fade-resistant high-resolution paint
- Each figure comes with durable metal stakes and brackets
- Folds for easy storage.
Style 5 – Northlight
Northlight is a division of the family-owned-and-operated Gordon Companies Inc, which was founded in 1977 in western New York. Gordon also owns Christmas Central, Christmas.com, and Dave’s Christmas Wonderland.
Dave’s Christmas Wonderland’s main store in western New York was established over 40 years ago and is a destination for tourists and Christmas shoppers.
Gordon is a wholesaler and importer of seasonal goods and best known for Christmas gifts and decorations. In addition to their beautiful outdoor Nativity set, we love how Gordon Companies gives back to their community.
For example, Gordon Companies retail stores sponsor and contribute decorated trees, ornaments, and wreaths to the annual Festival of Trees fundraising event for the Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (New York) and Kaleida Health. The decorated trees are auctioned off at an annual gala to benefit the hospital.
The Northlight Nativity set includes the Holy Family, angel, the Three Kings, a shepherd, ox, donkey, and lamb. Baby Jesus can be removed from the crib.
This set is the most expensive among our recommendations for an outdoor Nativity set. It is made from polyresin/fiberglass. For size comparison, Joseph stands just over 3-feet tall.
Style 6 – Designocracy
Designocracy outdoor Nativity sets and outdoor Christmas decor can be found at fine department stores, such as Macy’s, and online at Amazon. Designocracy is a favorite of mine for seasonal decor because I love the artists that they feature in their folksy designs.
Related: See more from Designocracy in 40 Beautiful Door Hanger Ideas For Every Season, Style, and Holiday
Designocracy has been creating beautiful art-based decor for years in their California studio. They are known for a variety of art styles, including folksy, nostalgic, farmhouse, rustic, and shabby chic styles.
Their full outdoor Nativity set isn’t considered large, but it features the beautiful artistry of Susan Winget, who is known for art that radiates American warmth and charm. The full set is 32x 48x 16 inches. It also comes in a single panel.
Key advantages include:
- High quality Baltic plywood; ⅜” thickness
- UV coated on both sides for weather protection
- Handcrafted in USA
- Comes with metal staking kit to help with stability in windy conditions
Minimalist Outdoor Nativity Set [For When You Want a Smaller Scene]
If you have a smaller yard or garden or an intimate space in a large lawn, you may want something smaller and simpler than the full Nativity scene. We discovered 11 outdoor Nativity sets that are either smaller in size or have fewer figures.
Click on an image below for more information. Many of these are created by the companies that we showcased above.
Lighted Holy Family Nativity Sets
Full Nativity Scenes for Smaller Spaces
Outdoor Christmas Decor with Nativity Theme
Outdoor Nativity Set Add-Ons
As we discussed in the section about full Nativity sets, a great way to build a set is to buy pieces over the years. Teak Isle, the Outdoor Nativity Store, and Front Yard Originals – which are all Made-in-the-USA – offer add-on pieces.
Inflatable Outdoor Nativity sets
Whether you decorate for children, grandchildren, or neighborhood children, inflatable yard decor is the hot trend for Christmas. We found 3 adorable for you in an inflatable outdoor Nativity set.
The inflatable outdoor Nativity sets:
- Inflate in seconds
- Light up
- Can be used indoors or outdoors
- Include equipment for outdoor setup
Light Up Your Outdoor Nativity Set
Outdoor spotlights are easy to find online or at your local home store or hardware store. They are inexpensive, so if you pick up a set you don’t like, it’s not a disaster. But if you want a good choice with excellent reviews, we found two solar yard spotlights for you.
We looked for a few things to lead us to our final two decisions:
- The option to automatically come on when it gets dark
- Highly waterproof and weather resistant
- Adjustable heads to direct light where you want it
- Solar or USB charging
- High, medium, and low light modes were a plus
- More than 100 reviews at 4.7 star rating or above
Final Thoughts on an Outdoor Nativity Set
Outdoor Nativity sets are a great outdoor decoration that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It’s important to consider how much space you have, what style of Nativity set you want, and what type of material will work best before buying an outdoor Nativity set.
We hope these tips help guide your decision-making process when shopping for an outdoor Nativity so you can find the perfect fit for your needs.
Let’s review some of the important questions to guide your choice-making process when shopping for an outdoor Nativity set!
- What kind of outdoor space do you have? Is there room to set up a life-sized outdoor Nativity set? Do you need a smaller outdoor nativity scene that will be more compact and easier to move around when necessary?
- What style of outdoor Nativity sets do you like the most, e.g. rustic, modern or classic? What about your outdoor decorations already says about what type of outdoor Nativity set would work best in that area.
- How much money are you willing to spend on an outdoor decoration this year for Christmas?
- How durable is it going to need to be based on where it’s placed?