27 worst nativity sets: the annual, growing list!

NOTE: this post is the 2011 list. for the 2017 list (now with 77!), click here.

a few years back i posted a long series of bad nativity sets. last year i grouped them all into one post — 20 of them at that point — and it became my highest trafficked post of all time. but people sent me more and a stumbled onto a few myself. so… this year, the list has 27! merry christmas all, and enjoy or be horrified by this weird collection of nativity oddness.

the kitty cat nativity. makes me want to cough up a hairball.

the nativity kitchen timer:

the (peruvian) cowboy nativity. yee-ha!

yeah, the cat nativity is probably worse. but these dogs ain’t much better…

technically, not a nativity. but it’s a christmas lawn ornament, showing (can you believe it?) the flogging of jesus on the way to the cross. there’s some christmas cheer for your neighborhood!

also not technically a nativity; just a horribly cheesy christian kitschmas decoration: the jesus tree topper. dude, that robe is not working for you. and stop using that flat-iron on your hair.

back to actual nativity sets. this one is a craft kit, using marshmallows to make a nativity. yum.

not to be outdone by the marshmallow nativity craft kit, this s’mores nativity just might be the single worst nativity i’ve come across…

this isn’t a whole nativity set, but i think the other pieces are available. i didn’t have the strength to look. this mouse drummer boy is just about as confusing as a bit of kitschmas junk can get.

when searching for tasteless nativity sets online, it doesn’t take long for one to stumble onto multiple versions of bears…

this rubber duckie nativity has to be right up there in the “worst” section of cheesy nativity sets…

lotsa santa nativity sets and pieces out there, but this one is a bit disorienting. is the holy family IN santa’s bag? or does santa have an nice applique of the holy family on his bag of gifts? and, what can the letters in santa be re-arranged to spell?

if cats, dogs, and teddy bears weren’t enough, how ’bout penguins!?

sure. snowmen. shouldn’t be a surprise.

ah, the veggie nativity. i debated on this one, because i’ve always been a veggie fan. but the baby carrot pushed me over the edge into including it.

this nativity — well, i just don’t even know how to describe it. clowns? modern art? the baby jesus seriously looks like something out of a circus or a john waters movie.

oh, the animals. i suppose, while i think the dog nativity and cat nativity are somehow explainable as something people WAY too “into” those particular animals might display, this chicken nativity is just a bit beyond my comprehension as a purchasable — nay, displayable — holiday trinket.

you know those people who have those geese on their porch? yeah, them. and they put a cute little goosey costume on their porch-goose to mark every season? yeah, those people. this costume set is made for those people. or, to clarify, for those who actually have TWO of those geese already. sigh. i’m guessing the rubber ducky baby is “not supplied”.

what better expresses the spirit of the incarnation than owls? i found these at this cavalcade of nativities, where the comment was: whoooo is the son of god? whooooo?

yes, i give you, the naked troll doll nativity. eesh. feh.

the irish nativity, where the 3 irish wise guys have clover, gold and guinness:

the most viral nativity from last year’s holiday season… the meat nativity (yes, bacon and sausage):

and, why not the butter nativity:

the cupcake topper nativity. holy and yummy all at once!

the pig nativity. oink-vey: certainly not kosher…

the mary-and-josesph-as-kids nativity. this one is mildly disturbing, particularly in light of rampant infantalization of teenagers in our culture and the dropping age in puberty (though i’m sure that’s not what the creators of this had in mind).

and, finally, in keeping with our current cultural fascination with all things zombie, i give you the etsy craftiness of: the zombie nativity. really, just, no comment.

let me know if you come across more winners (i mean, losers!).

this just in… (#28!)

the nativity carved out of spam! (thanks, adam!)

more, thanks to the comment from “A” about the plethora of etsy nativity wonders:

#29. the shotgun shell nativity. what a blast (get it!?). perfect for your redneck christmas, i suppose.

#30. the peg doll nativity. other than collecting some larger figures and one smaller one, and telling me it’s a nativity, this one doesn’t exactly scream “manger”.

#31. the mice nativity. say goodbye to the cookies you left out for santa.

#32. the fondant nativity. maybe even tastier than the s’mores nativity? can something be tasteless and tasty at the same time?
ah, sadness — the owner of this pic didn’t see the fun in this, and has demanded i remove the photo and link. merry christmas!

#33. um, the official description is “folk nativity“. but i’m pretty sure that’s a small 7 eleven frozen burrito with a face on it, along with two new age tree fairies, or something.

the list keeps growing!
a day and a half after posting this list, it has had more than 25,000 visitors, and that number grows by the minute. so far, none of this traffic is coming from incoming links from big sites like neatorama (which did link last year) or boing boing. it’s all facebook viral goodness.

and, from a nice reader in the UK (thanks, mary!) who bothered to email this pic…
#34. the soggy jesus nativity. i’m sure there are plenty of nativities in a snow globe, were all three (or more) characters are IN the globe. but this freakish thing just has jesus in there, with mary and joe staring at their baby-in-a-fishbowl. too weird and hilarious.

something’s fishy about this one: #35, the mexican mermaid family nativity. i actually kind of dig this one, but maybe it’s just because the detail of the craft is so amazing. thanks to karen on flickr for allowing me to post this one.

i can’t stop!
so, now that this strange little post has been–as i write this–viewed by more than 55,000 people in 18 hours, i’m getting a flood of nativity suggestions. i’ve tried to draw the line (because this post is clearly all about drawing the line, right?), thinking i’ll only add nativities that are fun or odd or horrible and were originally intended as a nativity by the creators of their various parts. in other words, i’m not including the dozens of lego nativities, superhero nativities, star wars figurines nativities, barbie doll nativities, coke can nativities, alcohol bottle nativities, and others i’m receiving. however, alert reader “joan from the detroit ‘burbs” pointed me to a wad a websites with these kinds of nativities, and i just have to include two of them, because they both made me laugh out loud (proving that i cannot effectively draw the line). oh, and for my fellow christians who have left sour comments: my feeling is that the creative god who invented fun and laughter smiles with us at these.

#36, the godzilla nativity. horrible/funny/creative/sacrilegious.

and #37, what i can only call the ‘minimalist nativity’. props to some kindergarten art class for this one, or some very lazy community college art student.

check out bohemian rhapsody re-written as “bethlehemian rhapsody” (so totally fun!).

also check out this awesome take on the real christmas story, as if it played out on facebook, and this fantastic imagining of the nativity story played out on a a wide variety of social media.

617 thoughts on “27 worst nativity sets: the annual, growing list!”

  1. these set new standards in “highs” for “lows” – excruciatingly funny, nevertheless. You’ve got to appreciate the creative process wherever/however it’s expressed!

  2. Brian,

    I am with you in thinking that God gave us all creativity and a sense of humor. I had to laugh out loud at some of these. Unbelievable! Your tongue-in-cheek comments are priceless and add just the right touch of humor.

    Thanks for being able to have fun. This seems like a good holiday stress reliever to me! :)

  3. This was an AWESOME post! I gotta thank you for sharing this with the rest of us. It reallly made my night!

  4. Awww, now, I like the Veggie Tale nativity. I would totally own that just for cuteness alone. The rest…. oy. As for the nativity where they look like kids… there’s a pretty good chance that Mary was like 13 according to many scholars. That may not be too far from reality!

  5. Very funny! I enjoyed them. In my house, we have a very traditional Fontanini nativity set. My now 6 year old daughter, since she was 2, has every Christmas season mixed in a variety of her toys. Dinosaurs, Barbies, princesses, etc.. You name it, they have all been to see Baby Jesus. Her her world, sometimes Mary and Joseph get bored and want to go out to eat, so the Barbies babysit Jesus. She has a covered wagon (pulled by a team of unicorns) built out of a box, pipe cleaners and fabric scraps this year “because the holy family is tired of just riding on the donkey”.

  6. I saw a Little People nativity at the local Christian Bookstore last week – it was sitting next to the VeggieTales one. Bacon!! on Saurkraut!! so cool.

  7. Wow! Ech! De lo chabacano a lo cursi a lo huachafo.

    But let’s not forget the lovely bust of the Blessed Virgin Mary… with the facial features of Jackie-O! I swear…OK, it was years ago, before she lost her virginity to Aristóteles Onasis (albeit the marriage contract, which specified there’d be none of that stuff).

  8. ok, the worst of this bunch, hands down in my book are the ‘nativity on a stick baked food’ and the bullets….the rest I could laugh at ….

  9. Great intertainment. Who would have ever guessed that we would enjoy such creative art work? Juana

  10. I enjoyed the nativities. I think many people have just found ways to celebrate the birth of Christ in a way that means the most to them. I didn’t see them as bad or inappropriate, but very creative. I personally liked the teddy bears, but then I like Teddy Bears. The one comment I didn’t like was the one referring to the word Santa scrambled to spell a different word. Many think of Santa as a way of bringing gift giving to the Christ Child. My husband plays the part of Santa so I didn’t like that thought.

  11. Tom… I’d just like to say that flamenco nativity scene was in my front yard. Yes, it’s tacky but years later we are still laughing about it. I’m glad you enjoyed…

  12. The Veggie Tales one looked cute until I noticed that Mary and Joseph are yellow squash and baby Jesus is a carrot (not all that weird in the VT universe), but there is a carrot stranger looking in the window from the outside….too funny

  13. Love them! My personal fave has got to be the sausage & bacon! I would love to own the veggie tales nativity. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Thanks for posting these…they have made me smile! God has a sense of humor and I am glad that most of you do too.

  15. Pingback: Wordless Advent
  16. Thank you–these gave me “great joy” in that sometimes I giggled, sometimes laughed out loud, sometimes rolled my eyes–lots of facial exercise overall, anyway. Now, not to encourage “rampant infantalization of teenagers in our culture” or joke about “the dropping age in puberty” I offer you this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zduwusyip8M More smiles.

  17. Brilliant.
    Two comments:
    a. Oh, negative comments from some of us Christians…. Typical.
    b. fondant lady who complained about you posting her pic is seriously missing out. Does she not realize how many of us would consider buying it – not in spite of it being listed here – but because it is listed here?

  18. Who are you to run down other people’s efforts and the fruit of their hands? It’s easy to sit back and judge other people’s work, much easier than producing something of your own. Shame on you!

  19. How odd that as I sit at my computer, looking at these, I’m wearing my T-shirt with a picture of Jesus. Laughing.

  20. Thank you so much for the belly laughs. I cringe at the inflatable nativity scene in my neighborhood but these put that one to shame. My collection of nativities needs to be updated with some of these.

  21. Let’s remember that these sets are not about the religious meaning of Christmas, they are Kitch, the products of a commercially driven, vapid society. They lack a connection between their Christianity and its expression in art, High or Low. The cultural values of our society are a very, very tiny part of their lives and that is why arts organizations and schools should be given the mandate to teach our kids the value of art as an expression of a person’s truth, and give them the funds to accomplish this.

  22. We made one with Star Wars figures one year.
    Jesus – Yoda
    Mary – Leia
    Joseph – Han Solo
    C3PO, R2D2, Chewy – three wise men
    Ewoks – stable animals
    Obi-Wan Kenobi – Angel Gabriel

    Somewhere I have a pic…

  23. I actually know someone in NC that has that exact snowman nativity set – proudly displayed among their plethora of snowman characters – the baby is actually adorable in person :)

Leave a Reply