A Healthy Edible Nativity to Tell the Christmas Story

In our church, we have noticed that our children and youth do not know the story about the birth of Jesus as well as they did ten years ago. Because of this, we have decided to focus our December Sunday faith formation on experiencing the Christmas story in several different ways.

Our Sunday faith formation is a one-room schoolhouse with children and youth ages 3 to grade 5 as well as several parent and grandparent helpers. We focus on one Bible story for a month and use a different activity every week to engage the story. Throughout the month, our activities could include a lesson on drama, art, science, cooking, media, or games, depending on the skills and passions of the teachers who have signed up to teach. We aim to make each activity accessible to our youngest while still challenging enough for our oldest.

For our December formation in 2022, we came up with a variety of activities. We showed the movie “Buck Denver Asks . . . Why Do We Call it Christmas?” We made nativity sets and Jesus-centered ornaments to take home. We acted out the story for ourselves.

My task for the month was to find a snack. I thought about the possibility of an edible nativity, which I had made at an Advent workshop several years back. I decided to create a version that would work nutritionally as a snack and that would show our children and youth a full nativity story. That was the start of our Edible Nativity activity.

Planning Our Storybuilding and Telling

The first step was choosing which characters were essential to the story. I reviewed the story in the Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible and selected Joseph, Mary, the manger, the stable, baby Jesus, the angel, the shepherds/sheep, the star, and the gifts.

I decided that we would create the nativity step-by-step as we read the story together. I split the story into manageable chunks for my youth and adults to read.

Choosing the Food

Then it was time to figure out how to make a tasty, mostly healthy snack with the characters. Here are the foods we chose:

  • string cheese and grapes for Mary, Joseph, and the angel (with wings of apple slices)
  • a baby carrot wrapped in a triangle of tortilla for Jesus
  • a clementine slice manger
  • a pretzel stick stable
  • popcorn sheep
  • metallic wrapped candy for the gifts

We also made our own non-edible star ornaments from two sizes of wooden stars that we colored with gold colored pencils and glued together. For an edible version, you could use slices of star fruit or star-shaped crackers if they are available to you.

Creating Edible Nativities

When it came time to actually make the edible nativities, we paired older youth with younger children, side by side. One of our children or youth who could read would read a section of the story, and then the pairs would work together to assemble that part of the story. Adults assisted with handing out supplies, reading, and snack assembly as needed. Most learners chose to take their nativity home to share, and we made a snack of all the extra fruit, cheese, and pretzels.

All of the learners absolutely loved this activity. They were eager to share what they did and learned with adults and siblings who had not been able to attend. It is also becoming a tradition. Every time we have mentioned December faith formation, people express hope that this activity will return.

Edible Nativity Printable Instructions & Script

If you would like your own copy of the instructions and text for this activity, you can find it through this link at my website: Edible Nativity Instructions and Story.

Editor’s Note: Please credit the author when you use or share this resource.

Featured photo is by the author, Breen Marie Sipes

  • Breen Marie Sipes (she/her/hers)

    Pastor Breen Marie Sipes is an ELCA Lutheran pastor, a full-time parent and an all-time advocate for intergenerational ministry. She the board president and a facilitator for Music that Makes Community, a guest preacher in small, rural, vibrant congregations, a confirmation curriculum developer, and a volunteer children’s faith formation leader at her home church. She lives in North Platte with her husband Patrick (also a pastor), three amazing daughters, two geriatric cats, and one Nebraska farm dog. She enjoys making music, swimming, biking, crafting, and supporting her girls in their many passions.

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