I assigned the kids their parts ahead of time. At the party, while a couple of moms helped them get their costumes on, the adults were divided into two groups—choir and scenery.
The Nativity Scenery Committee got 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.) They stuck on the stars to make scenery that looked like a night sky. Two of the scenery people held up the scenery during the play.
The Impromptu Nativity Choir practiced 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 cut the material into 45"x 45" squares (roughly, depending on the width) and then cut a hole in the middle for a head. The actors 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, we had a several cows as well as a camel, a donkey and two lambs in the cast.
We're short on short people in our group, so a few adults had 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 were for head coverings and belts to hold them on. Mary wore a silk scarf draped over her head. I twisted some gold pipe-cleaners together and made a halo for the angel. She wore white and carried a star, made by gluing a large yellow foam star to a dowel.
Props included 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. Last year we had a real baby, so a fleece covered his car-seat which was the manger.
So, when everybody was dressed and standing in their places, with the artistic scenery behind them, we were 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.)
Choir sings Silent Night.