Tag Archives: nativity sets

owning up to the oestreicher family nativities

i have to admit, even though i mocked all those nativities on my blog, i’ve slowly grown fond of many of them. i still get a scratchy feeling in my throat when i look at the cat nativity. and the hummel-like little kids freak me out a bit. but some of the latter additions just make me smile. yes, some of it is laughter. but it’s more than that.

anyhow, the other day i was thinking about this, and realized that for all my snarkiness, we have a fairly high number of wide-ranging nativities in our own home every christmas. time to come out of the closet and show them all to you:

this quilted nativity advent calendar has been a favorite of my kids (now 14 and 17) for years. every morning, they take turns moving the character of the day up to the scene.

technically not a nativity, this is the only one of the bunch that stays out year ’round. i’m qualifying it as a nativity, since, while it’s a group of saints, it includes mary with jesus, and joseph. it’s also the most expensive of our nativities. i bought these hand-painted stacking dolls in prague.

this one requires a little explanation. for years, my sisters’ kids and my kids put on a nativity story play as a part of our family christmas at my parents house. the roles changed from year to year, as did the dialogue (sometimes straight out of scripture; other times scripted in other ways). as a christmas gift to my parents one year, we took photos of the kids in their costumes, and took them to one of those places that makes die-cut stands out of photos. we bought an empty creche, and gave my parents the set. as you can imagine, it’s a fairly treasured family thing. we loved it so much, my sisters and i each got one for our own homes also.

little liesl was the sheep that year…

and max, who was only one month old, expertly played the part of baby jesus…

this one qualifies as our oddest (well, until the gift from adam, below). it was a gift from my parents years ago. i call it the siamese holy family. if you look close, you’ll see that joe and mary have one body from the waist down, but split into two above the waist. i bet that made childbirth extremely awkward.

anyone who has been to bethlehem has seen version of this nativity at every roadside tourist stand. but i love this one, mostly because i bought it there.

my kids each have this set, given by my parents years ago. this one sits on the back of the toilet in their bathroom (christmas invades every room in our house)!

adorning a wall in our living room each year are copies of two christmas cards we made years ago, each with a nativity drawn by one of my kids. the first was liesl’s creation, and the second was drawn by max.

and, finally, our newest addition… my partner in the youth cartel, adam mclane, gave me this zombie nativity set as an early christmas gift a few days ago, in honor of the blitzkrieg we both experienced trying to keep my blog alive during the onslaught of almost 400,000 visitors. he bought it from the etsy craftswoman whose zombie nativity i’d highlighted in that memorable blog post.

yup. emmanuel. god with us. maybe the single most amazing and creative reality in all of history.

27 worst nativity sets: the annual, growing list!

NOTE: this is the 2011 list. For the 2016 update, with 70 nativities, 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.

top 20 worst nativity sets

UPDATE: the new list, with 37 nativities, can be found here.

a few years back i posted a long series of bad nativity sets. last year i grouped them all into one post, but it was really just a list of links to those older posts — which was unfair to you all. so… this year, i’m grouping all 20 of them into one long post! 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 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 i posted last, 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 kitchmas 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?

ok, this has to stop. so, one last nativity. yes, i give you, the naked troll doll nativity. eesh. feh.

JUST POSTED: three more!

THIS JUST IN: yet another 3 worst nativities!

re-posted: the worst nativity sets

WAIT, DON’T CLICK ON ALL THESE LINKS. I MADE IT EASIER FOR YOU BY PUTTING THEM ALL IN ONE POST, HERE

a year or two ago i spent way too much time finding the worst collection of nativities i could find on the internet. seemed like they should see the light of day again, though not as a 20 post series, but, rather, all in one shot! so, click away and have fun (or be horrified, or both)…

the naked troll nativity
owl nativity
porch goose nativity
chicken nativity
clowns? ikea? who knows what these are nativity
veggie nativity
snowpeople nativity
penguin nativity
holy family in a santa bag nativity
rubber ducky nativity
teddy bear nativity
little drummer mouse nativity piece
marshmallow nativity
another marshmallow nativity
freaky jesus tree topper
whipping jesus lawn lights
dog nativity
cowboy nativity
kitchen timer nativity
cat nativity