I've assigned the kids their parts ahead of time. At the party, while a couple of moms help them get their costumes on, the adults are divided into two groups—choir and scenery.
The Nativity Scenery Committee gets a tri-fold display board (it's like three sides of a cardboard box, navy blue, and I got it at Michael's Crafts for $8.00) plus a baggie full of star-shaped foam stickers. (I got three bags of 30 multi-colored, multi-sized stars for $2.00 each and picked out the yellow ones.) The committee will stick on the stars to make scenery that looks like a night sky. Two of the scenery people will hold up the scenery during the play.
The Impromptu Nativity Choir will practice singing Away in a Manger and Silent Night.
No-sew nativity costumes: At the fabric store I searched for very cheap remnants. I got a couple of yards of several different fabrics (a black and white cow print, gray fuzzy wool, white terry cloth, light blue silky something, tan jersey knit, striped drapery stuff, etc.) I've cut the material into 45"x 45" squares (roughly, depending on the width) and then cut a hole in the middle for a head. Everyone will just slip them on like a cape, and tie them around the waist with a length of rope. Or they can be draped over their heads and shoulders like a shawl.
Because of a great deal on cow fabric, I asked if any little kid wanted to be a cow. Now we also have a camel, a donkey and two lambs in the cast!
We're short on short people in our group, so a few adults will take some extra roles. From year to year we could add or subtract animals, shepherds, angels, wise men and shift around the speaking parts. Hopefully the kids full-length costumes can be adapted to a shawl or shoulder drape on a bigger actor.
Left over strips of material are for head coverings and ties to hold them on. Mary will wear a silk scarf draped over her head. I twisted some gold pipe-cleaners together and made a halo for the angel. She will wear white and carry a star, made by gluing a large yellow foam star to a dowel.
Props include some fake jeweled pins, two boxes wrapped in gold and silver foil, an empty perfume bottle, a broom-stick for a staff, a few stuffed animals (lambs, a camel, and a cow) and a doll. This year we have a real baby, so I'm bringing a fleece to cover his car-seat for the manger.
So, when everybody's dressed and standing in their places, with the artistic scenery behind them, we're ready. I wrote the lines in rhyme so they're easy to remember; no rehearsal necessary. (Please feel free to use or adapt my poem for your own nativity play.)
Short and Sweet Nativity Script
(Choir sings "Away in a Manger" to set the mood.)
- Joseph: My name is Joseph. I've been walking all day. In Bethlehem I hope there's a place to stay.
- Mary: My name is Mary. I'm tired and worn. I need a place for my babe to be born.
- Donkey: I carried Mary until she could lie down. There is no room in this whole town.
- Innkeeper: No, no. I haven't a place. In the back with the animals there's some space.
- Camel: We have a place where it's safe and sound, with loving animals all around. "Can my baby sleep there?" Mary said.
- Cow: Let my manger be his bed.
- Baby Jesus: (Sleeps peacefully.)
- Shepherd 1: I am a shepherd watching my sheep. I think I hear singing in my sleep.
- Shepherd 2: There's an angel above us. I'm filled with fear. But peace is the message that I hear.
- Angel: Jesus is born today. He's sleeping in a bed of hay.
- Lamb 1: Let's follow the star.
- Lamb 2: It's not very far.
- Wise Man 1: I'm a king from far away. I've looked forward to this day.
- Wise Man 2: In the east a star shone bright, on that sacred, holy night.
- Wise Man 3: Gifts of love we all can bring to worship Jesus Christ, our king.
- Reader: The Bible tells the story like this: (Reads Luke 2:1-16.)