How to Make Your Outdoor Nativity Scene More Inviting

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Most of us can probably recall an outdoor nativity scene that stands out as particularly moving or breathtaking. And most of us have probably seen a few really tacky outdoor nativity scenes in our lifetime. The funny thing is, you can take the same outdoor nativity set and make it look incredibly remarkable or somewhat unnotable. What makes the difference between the two? The ambiance. Here are a few simple things you can do to make the ambiance of your nativity set more inviting this Christmas season.

Distance from Buildings or other Structures

One of the most important factors to a great nativity scene presentation is the location. Depending on where you setup the scene, people can feel crowded and uncomfortable or peaceful and engaged. If the nativity scene is too close to a building and or vehicles, the modern elements can distract viewers from imagining the miracle that took place in Bethlehem so many years ago. Try setting up your nativity scene on a hill, if possible, with some trees as the backdrop. If that isn’t an option for you, perhaps you can set it on your property enough of a distance from the front or side of your home, and away from your driveway, to feel like your nativity scene has it’s own unobstructed space.

Simple is Better

There are a lot of addons that you can buy for your outdoor nativity scene. Some, like additional characters that go along with the set, can help to make it look more full or complete without distracting from the manger centerpiece. However, some addons like backdrops, ground coverings, and light up stars can be gaudy and tacky. More often than not, they end up clashing with the main characters in the scene, taking away from the calm peaceful feeling that usually surrounds a nativity scene. Keep it simple. If you want a great ambiance that maintains the meaning of the nativity story, stick with simple colors, lines, and objects.

Soft Lighting

You want to make sure that the center of the nativity scene is especially well lit. A soft glowing light, either yellow or white, helps to brighten the ambiance of the scene without changing the overall feeling of the nativity scene. The correct lighting can help draw in viewers, captivating their attention with the beauty of the scene. With this in mind, you want your scene to be as bright as possible, complementing the roles of each character in the scene.

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Be careful with colored lights as they often can change the mood of the scene to be more negative. You may think that red and green lights are a good way to add color to the scene since they are Christmas colors. However, these colors can make your nativity scene characters look harsh, decreasing the peaceful and joyous ambiance that the nativity story is known for.

Ambient Music

Music can be the conduit for emotions. Use this to your advantage by playing music that will help your audience focus on the excitement and peace of the scene. Songs with words can sometimes be too distracting. However, they can also create a way to have the audience get involved and sing along. Choose music that will help you portray the emotions of the nativity story in a way you feel will best move your audience.

Be Aware of Obstructions

Obstructions can make a big difference. I once saw an beautifully lit scene with great lighting and music, but there was a big iron fence around their yard. I kept trying to position myself to see between the bars to no avail. It felt like I was watching a beautiful scene through prison bars and made me feel like I was intruding. Definitely not the inviting ambiance that I think they were going for.

Also, be mindful of which direction people will be coming from when they view your nativity scene. Try to clear the path between their approach and the nativity scene. Leave out any additional Christmas decorations that may obstruct or distract from the nativity scene.


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