Jessica Turner
About the Author

Jessica Turner is the author of Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter and Thrive, and blogs on The Mom Creative. Every day is a juggling act as she balances working full-time, making memories with her family, photographing the every day and trying to be...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
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Reader Interactions


  1. I love this post as this year my kids have painted their first nativity set and it was an incredble way to engage them in creating their own while studying the characters in detail (they are 7 and 8). It was an increbible experience for them and now it is up in our living room for them to play with each day. (precious moments has one for sale ready to paint).

  2. I have quite a Nativity collection – around 30! I set them ALL out during the Christmas season. I make sure there are several down low and accessible to my grandchildren. They are not only allowed, but encouraged to play and rearrange and talk about Jesus’ birth.

  3. One of the cutest Christmases ever was when my 2 1/2yo granddaughter received the fisher price nativity. After she got it all set up, she got every other ‘little people’ she had from her room, put them in her pink little people airplane and ‘flew’ them to ‘Bethlehem’ to worship the Baby King.
    I never imagined a nativity with a pink jet, a yellow bus, a clown, a boy holding balloons, a girl with birthday cake, a few doctors, nurses, teachers, school bus drivers, zoo animals, race car drivers and almost a hundred little people kids! I took up a whole 4x4ft coffee table!
    I really think even at her young age she ‘got’ Christmas, and offered a sweet reminder to those of us who were kind of worn out by the time the Holiday actually arrived.

  4. That is really cool! I bet your son will remember that nativity for many, many years. Great idea! My kids are both teenagers, so now we dissect the Christmas story–verse by verse. It’s fun to dig in to the scriptures with the kids and hear their point of view and thoughts. My hubby is our youth pastor at our church, so he offers a lot of guidance, but we try and let the kids do most of the “digging.” Fun, fun!
    Enjoy your Christmas season! Great post.

  5. All your super fab ideas make me wish for little ones again! Good thing I have tiny nieces and nephews! 🙂

    Jess, thank you for always encouraging and inspiring us mamas to intentionally create meaningful memories with our wee-watts. You bless us, Mama Extraordinaire.

    Love you! xoxo

  6. I have always loved Nativity sets and have several less expensive ones that I let my kids play with through the years. Now I have them out for the grandchildren when they come over! I think it is a great way for children to understand and get an inkling of a feeling of what the story is about. Which is why, as you suggest in the post, that the children should be immersed in the Christmas story from a young age.
    I think every house with children should have a hands-on set!
    8 ways to reduce stress this holiday season

  7. We’ve been doing a lot of praying recently on how to raise our children with the true message of Christmas. A friend posted the link to this article yesterday and it’s helped me with some of my recent struggles.

    My husband read it, too; so, we’ve been chatting today already about some ideas for our home.

    Thanks also for the dayspring code; I plan on ordering one for our boys and one to give to a family that doesn’t know the Christmas story.

  8. I really love that the nativity set is in his room. How special! My parents would always give me a little handheld candle and light it while dad read from an Advent book. I remember getting a little burnt from the wax sometimes but I loved that tradition… even now one of my favorite parts of Christmas is picturing Jesus as the light of the world! ~Frances

  9. I always look forward to getting out the nativity scene painted by my Grandma many years ago. The donkey is missing an ear and the whole set survived a fall from my attic to the garage floor a decade ago (yea for shredded paper packaging). It’s just what Christmas is about and it makes my heart sing.

  10. My “kids” are 25 and 27, but a precious memory I have of them when they were young, is how they played with the Nativity Set that sat on the hearth each Christmas. We didn’t have a fancy set, so I let them play with it. Seems like every time I walked past it, everything was rearranged, except Baby Jesus. Baby Jesus was always Front and Center. The shepherds would be moved around, the animals moved around, Mary and Joseph were often moved. But, because they always left Baby Jesus front and center, I knew they understood He is the reason we celebrate Christmas.

  11. My last blog post was about this very thing… the bringing of the Nativity to life. We, too, have a few different nativity sets. One that is strictly NOT to touch and only to look at. One that is to play and touch as much as you’d like (even if you lose a shepherd or donkey in the process), and one that is played with, with limits. We have the Playmobil nativity set that I LOVE. Mary is even smiling… love that. We start the first Sunday of Advent- the Creche gets set up with just the shepherd and some animals, and then Mary and Joseph start out across the room and “travel” each night. Each morning, the kids (we have 4 aged 6 and under) come down and it’s the first thing they search for. WHERE are Mary and Joseph now?! The excitement mounts as we sometimes make it difficult (for the oldest) and sometimes make it easy (for the 2 year old) and they inch closer day by day to the creche aka Bethlehem. They arrive on Christmas Eve and then Jesus is in the manger Christmas morning. Then the Wise Men start their journey and end up there on Epiphany. It’s one of our favorite Christmas traditions and my husband and I have more fun looking for new spots. 😉 I cannot remember what book we first read this in- but it’s definitely made the story “alive” for our kids and definitely is a highlight of their mornings each day! Merry Christmas!

  12. Back in 1978 we moved from Australia to Ithaca NY in mid December with our 20 mth old son . As part of our simple christmas decorations that year, we purchased a book with a punch-out cardboard Nativity scene. 2 1/2 yrs later we returned to Australia, with that Nativity scene. And then along came another son.
    For over 30 yrs that Nativity has lovingly been set up on a coffee table. with both our sons, playing with it as they enacted out that First Christmas. The eldest is married with 2 children now and last year when I bought a wooden one for our grand children to play with, our eldest took that original cardboard one that he played with in Ithaca to his home for their Nativity.
    Last week 4 yr old granddaughter told me they had a ‘new’ Nativity and Baby Jesus, as the cardboard one had got broken! Tomorrow is her day with me so we will set up the children’s Nativity, together. Christmas has been a long time coming for her as she wanted to play with Baby Jesus in the manger in July!
    It is such a blessing to see your grandchild wanting to hear bible stories and tell you what she is learning at Kids Church. We are so blessed.

    And each year that Nativity came out and was set up on a coffee table for son to learn by and play with.

  13. One of my favorite Christmas memories is of my stepson arranging the nativity each year. He made a huddle of all the figurines around Jesus every year. The perfectionist in me wanted to “display” the nativity. He was right all along though–Jesus should be the center of the huddle.