Good Deeds and Sacrifices for Baby Jesus- Make an Empty Manger

As we all know, Advent is a time of waiting. We are waiting for the coming of our Savior! Lent is also a time of waiting in which we make sacrifices. Did you know that Advent is traditionally a time of sacrifice for Jesus as well?

A fun way to incorporate this concept with kids is the empty manger. The manger begins empty at the beginning of Advent. Each time someone in the family does a good deed or makes a sacrifice, he or she gets to place a piece of straw in the manger. You can either have a different manger for each child, or the family can all add their straw to the same manger. Explain that good deeds and sacrifices are the best presents we can give to Jesus for his birthday! With each piece of straw added to the manger, Jesus has a softer place to lay for Christmas morning. On Christmas, you add Jesus to the manger while singing “Away in a Manger”. This is a really fun and meaningful Christmas tradition!

Manger Craft

We crafted our own manger sets for Baby Jesus this Advent, and I’m excited that they should last us for many years to come!

Supplies Needed to Make a Manger Set:

  • Small Wooden box from a craft store (You could substitute a cardboard box, like one from Velveeta Cheese)
  • Brown Paint (acrylic)
  • Paint Brush
  • Old Fashioned clothes pin or peg
  • Sharpie Marker
  • Square piece of felt
  • Shredded paper, Rafia, or Straw

Manger Craft Supplies

Start by painting your wooden box brown. Set it aside to dry.

Painting Manger Box Brown

Draw a face on your clothespin or wooden peg. We used a Sharpie marker.

Peg Doll With Face

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Glue a small square of felt around the Jesus peg doll for his “swaddling clothes”. When you’re finished, store Baby Jesus somewhere safe until Christmas- you don’t need him yet. Keep your hay close by so it’s easy to add a piece whenever anyone does a good deed or makes a sacrifice.

Finished Manger Craft

Every piece of hay will help to make Jesus’ bed softer for Christmas day!

Finished Manger Craft

I’ll be posting every day this week with ideas for celebrating Jesus’ Birthday! Don’t miss the rest of the series!

5 Days of Christmas Wishing Jesus Happy Birthday

Check out the other blogs participating in the “5 Days of Christmas” series this week!

A Slob Comes Clean – Getting Your Home Company Ready
Feels Like Home – Christmas Traditions
Somewhat Crunchy – Christmas with Dairy Allergies
Spell Outloud – Children’s Books
Mama’s Learning Corner – Children’s Crafts
Many Little Blessings – Edible Gifts
Sunflower Schoolhouse – Decorations
An Oregon Cottage – Christmas Cookies
Catholic Icing – Wishing Jesus Happy Birthday
The Traveling Praters – Traveling
The Homeschool Classroom – Gifts Kids Can Make
Mama’s Laundry Talk – Laundry Gifts



  1. Adorable Nativity, Lacy!
    Hope you don’t mind that I added your link to my Homemade Nativity linky:

    Anything THAT cute…needed to be added, you understand…=)

  2. I love it Lacy~ !! So creative.

  3. How cute! Much more personal than ours that was store bought! Off to check out these other great links. Love the 5 days of Christmas idea:) Wishing you and your family a peaceful Advent!

  4. Caterina Mangano says

    Just found your blog through the 5 days of Christmas. Looking forward to all your posts!

  5. Love this idea! so cute and meaningful for the kids.

  6. Honey @ Sunflower Schoolhouse says

    I love the manger set you made. It is beautiful.

  7. Patricia Prenosil says

    We did this when I was a kid. This year I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having hay in the house. Instead I bought a bunch of really cheap Christmas cards and a couple of tins at the dollar store. Every time the kids did a good deed, they got to write it in a card and put it in their tin as a gift for Jesus. Christmas morning we will open the cards and read all their gifts for Jesus when we open all the other presents. =)

  8. John Vaughn says

    What great ideas! I’m putting on an Advent workshop for our PreK and K’s and this will be a huge hit. I guarantee it! Thanks so much. Have a happy and holy holiday!