The 42 Worst Nativity Sets!

Now available for your delectation courtesy of this cruel man.  Also don’t forget to check out Bethlehemian Rhapsody.

the kitty cat nativity. makes me want to cough up a hairball.

the nativity kitchen timer (ding-ding! baby jesus is born!):

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 s’mores nativity. yum.

this isn’t a whole nativity set, but there are other pieces available. 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 my kids loved veggie tales back in the day. 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” (not to mention zoologically impossible).

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 the 2010 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).

in keeping with our current cultural fascination with all things zombie, i give you the etsy craftiness of: the zombie nativity. full disclosure: after last year’s nativity post blew up, my business partner, adam mclane, bought me this one as a christmas gift. it now sits proudly in my home. and my interactions with the creators was just lovely (they “get it”).

the nativity carved out of spam! (thanks, adam!)

the shotgun shell nativity.  what a blast (get it!?).  perfect for your redneck christmas, i suppose.

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”.

the mice nativity. say goodbye to the cookies you left out for santa.

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 (btw: i had interaction with the creators of this gem last year, and they’re good people).

from a nice reader in the UK (thanks, mary!) who bothered to email this pic… 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.

honestly, this one — the mexican mermaid family nativity — is some pretty beautiful art work, even if it is fairly strange. thanks to karen on flickr for allowing me to post this one.

a cheat on one of my rules: the godzilla nativity. horrible/funny/creative/sacrilegious.

and 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.

as you might imagine, this annual list has generated hundreds of additional nativity suggestions, both in blog comments, and via email. many i’d seen before. many were just ok. some were truly inspiring. but this one, i just had to post for its creativity. sent to me by David Lober, the ‘arranger’ and photographer.  the humor takes a few seconds to start setting in…

new to the list this year!

yeah, this one probably crosses some line. sent to me by the creators, i give you the halloween/christmas mash-up nativity.

more animals! this time, it’s meerkats! hakuna matata.

not to be left out of the animal kingdom nativities, the frog nativity:

ok. if i had a line, i’ve probably crossed it by now. i hesitated on this one, but it was suggested SO many times last year, and it’s from a crafty little website called (really). yup: it’s the tampon nativity:

more animals! this time its moose (meese? mooses?).

robin, the creator of this soap nativity, sent it to me. i suppose the birth of christ has something to do with getting us all squeeky clean.

and the final new addition this year is my favorite of the new ones. three wise-men cheers for the color nativity!


  • MI Will

    I went to a modern art museum yesterday and it left me wanting (some art). This makes me feel better about the art museum.

  • Sus

    Thank you for the laugh. The dog one kills me!

    When my daughter was 6 she moved the nativity scene to her barbie dream house because she thought Jesus deserved to live in a place with an elevator, and Mary needed a kitchen and a real bed.

  • Anna

    I love the quizzical look on the face of the chicken Mary.

  • RFlaum

    Two words: bacon nativity.

    • Mark Shea

      There is a Meat Nativity, FWIW.

    • Paul

      A Great way to win kudos with God…depict his son (who was Jewish) and his earthly family (who were Jewish) out of a pork based product!

      • Mark Shea

        It may have escaped your notice, but that Son declared all foods clean.

        • Paul

          I know he declared it clean enough to eat….but clean enough to use as an artistic medium? :-)

  • Beadgirl

    I must admit, I kind of like the color/minimalist one. I found the frog one to be the creepiest. Something about all the animals climbing all over each other to form the camel is just . . . ew.

    • marko

      i agree — the color one is awesome. i actually think it makes a very interesting statement (whether it means to or not): the nativity is so iconic that merely the subtle suggestion of the shapes and placements of figures makes it immediately clear what it is. there’s something powerful in that.

      • Loud

        Marko: Oh gosh, I thought I was going crazy when I looked at it and thought “hey! That one is genuinely nice!” Perhaps it is a result of my habit of trying to see outside of the obvious….
        or an insane need to appreciate one of the few nativities that wasn’t insulting.

        @ Mark (Shea): Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the laughs this post gave me, but when I finished laughing I couldn’t help but feel really sad. Blasphemy is always either enraging or depressing….

      • Aunt Raven

        This is the perfect nativity in societies and cultures which do not permit display of *ahem* graven images. It’s both “all in the mind” and “in the eye of the beholder.”

        I would relish seeing this one on a courthouse lawn and the foaming-at-the-mouth ACLU having conniptions trying to get rid of it.

      • Richard Bell

        The color nativity is awesome. Despite the lack of detail, it is immediately recognizable with only a small amount of context. The beauty of it is you could put it in a public space and title it “Holiday Colors”. Those that are offended by religious imagery would have to explain it and the sane people could ask why an atheist sees religious imagery everywhere?


    I used to own the Veggie Tale Nativity Set. Are you JUDGING me? ;)

    I didn’t think they were all THAT horrible. Not terribly Catholic, but not gawdawful.
    I could do without the tampon one and the godzilla.

    • Charlie

      @ Suzanne:
      What do you mean by “not terribly Catholic”? Is the Incarnation of the Son of God and its artistic representations limited to Catholics?

  • Mark R

    That doggie Nativity near the top needs to have them playing poker!
    Seriously, the cutest Nativity scene I ever saw was from Peru with the baby Jesus wearing a little wool cap with ear flaps, like the natives.

  • Maggie Goff

    David Loper is very clever. :)

  • Helen

    These would make a great creepy/kitschy Advent calendar: every day another horrible Nativity.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    My wife and I got the rubber duck nativity for our young daughters to play with in the tub. They still love it after a few years.

  • Kristen inDallas

    42… The meaning of Life, The Univese and Everything… Nativity Sets…

    I get you Mark, I get you… :)

  • Joel

    The flogging one is right here in Washington, along I-90 between George and Moses Lake. Also depicted in lights nearby are a dancing Barney in a Santa hat, and Santa himself hanging off the back of a snowmobile.

    Us northwesterners take a backseat to nobody in our tackiness!

  • Rosemarie


    My eyes are burning! I feel like I need a shower now.

    Years ago I saw this bizarre mash-up between a nativity scene and the Crucifixion. It looked like one of those cheepo Made-In-China ceramic religious statues you see in the 99 cent stores (this was part of a makeshift shrine to fallen police officers). The figurine stood maybe 6″ high, with Mary and St. Joseph (who both had wings, for some inexplicable reason) kneeling on either side of baby Jesus in the manger and a crucifix attached to the back of the manger. They were like one piece, kinda like the Cross was “growing out” of the manger or something. So Our Lord was present both as a newborn and a corpus in the same figurine, one right above the other, and the winged Mary and St. Joseph were kneeling on either side of the Cross as well as the manger. Yikes!

    • Charlie

      I agree with your assessment of the mash-up you saw. But let me tell you of a juxtaposition that I think worked beautifully. Back in the 60s I was stationed in Germany and took a vacation in Liechtenstein. In front of a Catholic church, in the granite façade, slightly angled away from each other were two life-size tableaus. On the left was the manger with Mary kneeling behind it. On the right, in a similar pose was the Pietà, Mary sitting with the dead body of Jesus in her lap. Very effective, I thought, and very poignant

  • marko

    wow, you copy-and-pasted the entire post!

    • Mark Shea

      I thought it was hilarious and you are a genius. I linked back to you. If you like I can take it down but I figured this would drive people back to you to read more of your stuff.

      • marko

        no need to take it down, mark. this was just the only place i saw the entire post copied-and-pasted. i do appreciate the link (genius or not!).

  • mm dcota

    Just proof that people everywhere are searching for Christ in many ways. Sometimes the worst persecutors don’t realize what they are doing — and once they do they become great Saints. Lets pray for them, as Jesus did, on the Cross.

  • Mary Consiglio

    Smile if you love the Baby Cheeses!

  • Jordan

    The godzilla one cracked me up. So is Mary godzilla, or is she the three-headed dragon? Haha!

  • Linda C.

    Need to go take a garden hose to my eyes and brain now, thanks. Oh, shoot, it’s December and all the hoses are put away for the winter. Drat.

  • A. M.

    Anybody who seriously believes “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” or that “art is what each person thinks it is” … simply needs to see this. This is the problem with people ceasing to believe in any form of objective reality. Or the reality and gravity of the sin of blasphemy.

    I notice lots of these were plants or animals replacing people. I guess that really exposes the new-age mindset, now, doesn’t it? Many certainly do seem to want to make … er… ‘idols’… out of plants and animals (put them ahead of everything and everyone), but this is bringing that attitude right out into the open, on a whole new level.

  • dave

    In Germany we visited several churches in early January of 1988. We saw small, creche-like scenes from the Nativity story as it played out. Not just the shepherds, not just the wise men, but the Flight into Egypt. AND … the slaughter of the innocents, complete with Roman soldier statues holding bloody babies. Wow.

  • Nate

    I’ll admit that we Rock the Veggie Tales Nativity Set proudly. It’s a great intro into the story for kids.

  • Darren

    OK, the “Baby Cheese’s” nativity is brilliant!

  • Steve Grove

    You may want to add one from here…

  • Robert

    Some of these are as brilliant as they are disturbing.. I found one called The Holy Frijoles .. made out of beans if you can believe that … very funny