DIY wood finial Mid Century modern nativity

Mid-Century Heirloom Nativity

Nativity sets are one of those quintessential Christmas decor items I feel like I need, but always have a hard time finding one that I like! Stockings fall into that same category, but I’ll have to wait until next year to tackle that project. For this Mid-Century Heirloom Nativity I was inspired by a set my mom created when she was young. It’s been one of our most popular projects since we first came out with it and I have to agree!

See the full how-to for the Mid-century Heirloom Nativity.

Heirloom Nativity

DIY Painted Finial Nativity Set

My mom used a variety of wooden spindles and finials that she collected and painted them in fun bright tones (it was the 60s after all) for her painted nativity set. I haven’t been able to locate them in our storage at my parents house for years otherwise I’d love to show you her version. Sigh.Heirloom NativityFor our nativity we added additional wooden elements to create the exact shapes we wanted. Add some detail with acrylic paint and they’re transformed into a beautiful nativity that you can pass down for generations to come! The best part is scavenging for the materials and creating the figures from the treasures you find; the possibilities are limitless. That said, we link to the specific ones we bought so you can recreate it yourself!


Mid-Century Heirloom Nativity


  • Various wooden spindles, finials, candlesticks or turned wood (we got ours from here and here)
  • Wooden beads, shapes, discs
  • Wood glue or epoxy
  • Acrylic Paints (we also used house paint samples that we have around the studio)
  • Gold Leaf
  • Paintbrushes

DIY wood finial Mid Century modern nativity


  1. Search and scavenge Etsy shops (we found ours here), antique stores, and your mother’s attic for various wooden pieces to create your nativity.
  2. From this specific shop we used the following:
    1. 1 unfinished candlestick holder 9″ tall x 2-7/16″ inches
    2. 1 unfinished candlestick holder 1-3/4″ tall x 1-7/8″ inches
    3. 1 unfinished wood finial jar top 3-1/2 t x 1-11/16 W inches
    4. 1 unfinished wood finial jar top 4-1/4 t x 1-7/8 W inches
    5. 1 Unfinished candlestick holder 2-1/4″ tall x 2-5/16″ inches
    6. Group of Six Unfinished Wood Pillars and Spindles for Crafting Projects (We bought ours from this shop but it appears they are no longer available)
    7. Pair Of Unfinished Wooden Angels for Christmas Decorating for Tole Painting Crafting Project (We bought ours from this shop but it appears they are no longer available)
  3. Add wooden beads and shapes or finials to create the desired shape you want for each character. We added on certain shapes to create hats for the wise men, wings and a head for the angel, and a few halos.
  4. Glue those together with wood glue or epoxy and let dry.
  5. We wanted our nativity to have a mid-century feel, so we used bright colors and geometric patterns. Feel free to imitate our designs, or take an original spin on things! We drew our initial designs on with pencil and then filled them in with paint.
  6. Once the paint dries, add some gold leaf detail. We added gold leaf to the wise men’s hats and gifts and all the halos.

Arrange your Heirloom Nativity scene and enjoy it year after year!Mary Joseph and Jesus nativity wood finial set

Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus

Admittedly, I’d love a version of Baby Jesus where his head isn’t flat, but that’s an easy fix with a big bead or something! I think Mary might be my favorite!

3 wise men wood finial nativity set

The Three Wise Men

The key to the three wise men are the touches of gold leaf! You can’t have too much!

Angel and shepherd nativity wood finial set

The Angel and the Shepherd

Of course, the angel wing shapes for the angel and the hook for the shepherd help tell these two apart.

Heirloom NativityThe whole family!

This project continues to be one of my favorite projects. Tag us with #holidayswithlars so we can see your version!

Photography by Clara Sumsion Jones | Designs by Ashley Isenhour


  1. Thank you so much for listing my Etsy shop as to where your readers can find their candlesticks and finials for their project. I also have the table leg you used for the shepard and baby jesus. I don’t have them listed in my shop for individual sell. Please have your readers contact me ad say they are working on the heirloom nativity set and need the shepard and baby jeasus table leg. Thank you and happy crafting. I love what you did here.


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