Saturday, December 12, 2015

Nativity Shadow Puppet Stage

I love the mysterious aura of a shadow puppet show. In a darkened room, figures fade and focus, unraveling simple, ageless stories. This one opens with a brilliant star and a luminous night sky. "All is calm, all is bright." We're about to witness a miracle. "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one explanation is possible." (words of Saint Thomas Aquinas)

I'm saving this for Christmas eve, after the children's Mass we attend as a family. Amidst festivities that follow - the food, the fun, the frolicking, the presents - we will find "room for them" in our homes, in our hearts, and on this stage.

This project is a portable foam board 18" x 20" stage with an optional roof. It is decorated with scrapbook paper, gold star stickers and a set of puppets glued to bamboo kitchen skewers. Although the puppets can be cut from Christmas cards or hand drawn, I used a set of vinyl stickers (from Michael's) as shown. In a dark room, with a desk lamp behind the tissue paper screen, puppets appear in silhouette and the effect is magical.

Here's what you'll need to make one of your own:
  • Royal blue foam craft board 20" x 30"
  • Set of nativity stickers or hand drawn or cut out figures with strong profiles 1.5" - 2" 
  • Purple tissue paper sheet 12" x 15"
  • Scrapbook paper, plain or patterned, in brown and green 
  • Gold star stickers, one large and other smaller ones
  • Bamboo food skewers, 8" or 12" long
  • Craft knife, ruler, craft glue, scissors, pencil, newspaper sheet 
  • Royal blue Canson paper 6" x 20" for optional roof
  • Desk lamp or flashlight
And here's what you'll do:
  • Score the foam board vertically to divide the 30" width into 3 sections - 6" on each side, 18" center panel
  • Cut an 11" x 14" rectangle newspaper pattern. Place it on center panel, 2" from each side and 3.5" from top. Trace with pencil
  • Use a craft knife to cut the rectangle out
  • Lay the stage blue side down and place glue all around outside edge of opening. Carefully lay the tissue paper on top, smoothing it out as tightly as possible

It doesn't have to look all perfectly-perfect at this point!

Use scrapbook paper and stars to decorate around the opening.

Make an optional roof by folding down 1" on each end of the 6" side of the Canson paper. Fold both side panels of the stage forward so they are at right angles to the center panel. Lay the roof paper along the top and glue the folded tabs to side panels to hold it in place.

Glue skewers to backs of stickers to make puppets.

Turn lights off, position lamp behind screen and tell the story of the birth of Jesus by operating the puppets.

Merry Christmas!

This original design, like all blog content, is intended for personal use only. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Thank you!


  1. My goodness - you do such a job when it comes to making fun and happiness for your grandkids. I've never seen anyone who takes so much time and energy to insure that the grands know history and stories and traditions for every holiday.

    I'm sure they will be enchanted by the puppet show and want to use it every year. It is interesting how kids will continue a "little kid" event long past their "little kid" years because it brings such happiness and sweet memories to them. What lucky little kids they are.

    It always makes me happy when one of our grandsons insists on something being done a certain way because it is tradition - it makes my heart sing - and each new tradition just adds to the fun. Merry christmas to all at your house, they are very lucky to have you.

  2. Oh Joyce you are so creative and what a wonderful show this will be to keep the true meaning of Christmas in the children's hearts that evening! :)

  3. Hello, what a fun time. I am sure your grandchildren will love being involved with Navitity puppet show. You are creative and a very loving grandmother. Have a happy weekend!

  4. It is a blessing to spend time and do things with our grandchildren. Have a Merry Christmas.

  5. What a fun idea! We always act out the nativity in Christmas Eve, but this would be a fun change.

  6. What a great idea! The kids are just going to love it. You make every holiday so much fun for all of them. They will never forget any of this. Can't wait to see photos of Christmas smiles!

  7. Oh how fun! My grandkids and I had fun making nativity sets out of popsicle sticks but I never thought of puppets. I'll have to save this for next Christmas :) Thanks!


  8. What a wonderful idea! You are so talented and creative. I sure hope your grandchildren appreciate you and all that you do with/for them!

  9. Hey there! Thank you for sharing this fantastic idea! I guess we'll do such a puppet theater for our kids too. I'm sure they will like it. Jane says hi!
    Merry Christmas!
    Fred and Jane
    Commented on Christmas Eve at

  10. That's a really cool idea! I have never seen anything with shadow puppets before!

  11. This is a truly wonderful idea. I love it, and what a treat for such a special night of the year. Your grands will love it. I can hardly wait to see photos of those smiling faces. :-)

  12. What a great idea! Thanks for linking up to Home Matters Party. #HomeMattersParty

  13. Cute, Cute, Cute! My grandkids did this for Thanksgiving, but I didn't use such a cute scene. We have a glass door to a sunroom and I just put a sheet over it and a light behind it. They found a script and made the props and people. I think I'll show them this idea for next year!

  14. You might want to check out the "The Coming of the Christmas Lamb" poem on my website It would be great to use for children and adults alike.

  15. Wow, this is fabulous! We made nativities and flannel boards for all of our nursery kids tis year, but this is such a creative idea! Thanks for sharing with SYC.