Simple Birch Log Nativity Scene
Bring the Christmas spirit into your home with this simple birch log nativity scene. It’s an easy craft that adults and kids alike will enjoy!
When I was small and Santa was real and the world was a place of miracles and wonder, I first heard the tale of the Nativity. I don’t recall who told the story – whoever it was read it to me from a large book with big words and colorful pictures.
I remember the pictures.
A night sky of cobalt blue…
Stars like fireflies…
And hanging low in the eastern sky, a great beacon that lit up the pale dunes of a desert in some impossibly far-off land that my small mind couldn’t begin to understand.
Three men walked with camels across the barren sands.
Three men walked toward that beacon in the sky.
They were Kings in their homelands, yet here they walked alone across a vast and foreign land to pay their respects to a newborn miracle.
Whenever I heard the story, I found myself there in that manger in Bethlehem.
I could smell the straw.
I could hear the lambs.
And I could see the star that led three faithful Magi to the infant Jesus.
All these years later, and the story of the Nativity still gets me. When I hear “The Little Drummer Boy” on the radio, I get a lump in my throat.
I’m not the most pious man on Earth, so go figure why this one story still captures my imagination.
I wanted to pay homage to those boyhood feelings of awe and wonder, so I came up with a quick and easy project to honor the birth of Jesus. This simple birch log Nativity scene is a great project to do with your kids or grandkids.
The best part?
No paint involved! Instead, I used a selection of Sharpie markers. But for those who don’t mind a small paint brush, you can certainly make this DIY Nativity scene with craft paints. In fact, the first one I made was with paints, so I’ll show you both results.
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Let’s get to it!
DIY Birch Log Nativity Scene
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- Birch logs
- Sharpie paint pens (This links to the full set, so you wouldn’t need the markers linked below)
- Sharpie brush tip markers (I didn’t have a full set of paint pens, so I also had to use the markers)
- Battery-operated tealight
- Miter saw (This links to an inexpensive manual miter saw in case you don’t have a powered one)
- 1 1/2 inch Forstner drill bill (recommended, but any 1 1/2 inch bit would do)
If you don’t have access to birch logs from a nearby forest, you can pick them up at Whole Foods, Home Depot, and probably a thousand other places this time of year.
Simple Birch Log Nativity Scene Tutorial
I selected three logs with different diameters. I don’t know what the three Wise Men looked like, but in my mind, there’s a tall one, a short one and a medium one.
I decided to make them 10, 12 and 14 inches tall.
I first cut a tiny bit from the base to make it perfectly flat.
Next I cut the face at a 45 degree angle.
I cut the medium tall magi in the same manner. For the tall magi – the singing one – I cut his face at a 35 degree angle so it would look like he had thrown back his head to sing up into the heavens.
I cut a 4-inch-tall section from one of the thicker logs to serve as the creche of baby Jesus.
A tealight would represent the infant Christ, so I drilled a 1 1/2 inch hole with a Forstner bit in the center of the creche log deep enough to accommodate a tealight.
With the cradle drilled, it was time to get artistic with the wise men’s faces.
To keep things simple, I used an assortment of Sharpie paint pens and Sharpie brush tip markers. If I could have found the paint pens in all the colors I needed, I would have used them. I bought my pens from Home Depot and Staples, and they only sold small packs of the paint pens. I’ve linked to Amazon that sells a full set for a very good price. I also chose to use the black brush tip marker for the mouths and eyes.
First I penciled in my lines.
And then I colored between them. There’s no right or wrong way here. I started with shorty.
Next was the middle magi.
And last, the tall one. Only after I finished did we notice how distracting that knot in the middle of his face was, so I quickly cut another log and made another magi (no pics of that build).
And that’s all there is to this project! So simple, but so brilliant!
I made a set of these guys a few years ago with maple logs from the forest behind our house. I colored them with craft paint. If you’re handy with a paint brush, then painting the faces is another great option!
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I have a huge pile of seasoned birch limbs that would be perfect for this! If I can’t find anyone with a table saw, Will give it a go by hand. You two are SO adorable! Love all your projects!
Thank you, Naomie! It’s a quick and easy project you can do in an afternoon. Send us some pics when you’re done, please!
This isn’t the first time I’ve commented. You two are amazing. I wish you were my neighbors! Reading the narrative at the beginning tells me that you are not just artists but have hearts to match. I am not decorating for Christmas this year since my husband passed away in Feb of pancreatic cancer and I can’t bear to get the decorations out of the attic because that was his time of year. But, reading your narrative reminds me again that it isn’t about me but about Christ and what His coming into this world did for me and my Jim – I will see him in heaven one day. Love you guys! Rhonda
Hi Rhonda. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s passing. I can’t imagine how hard the holiday season will be for you, and I hope you’ll be able to find some peace and joy for yourself. Skip the decorations, and find serenity in your interactions with others. Look to your family and friends for comfort. See the soul spark the eyes alight by showing kindness to a stranger. Watch the unburdened joy of children who still believe in the impossible. Handan and I will be thinking of you and Jim this Christmas. Please take good care of yourself.
My heart goes out to you for this coming Christmas season. It will be hard for you, but as Gregg says, focus on your family, friends, and neighbors around you to observe the joy of the season in their eyes.
I have gone and volunteered some of my time to read stories to the younger grades at our local school. I ended up doing it once a month for the rest of the school year! I had fun seeing the interest in the kids eyes!
Gregg, the Wise Men are so nise! I love it!
this is such a unique idea! i can see this used in many ways, besides the wise men. kudos on an original idea!!
Oh! I love relatively easy projects to do with wood! Especially because we have an abundance of it. 😉 Thanks for sharing on the Family Joy Link-Up.
Thank you, Alicia!
This turned out really cute and looks like an easy DIY! Thanks for joining the Family Joy Link Party!
Thank you, Sammy!
Oh my goodness!!! These are adorable!!!
Thank you, Kristy!
Adorable! I am so impressed with how creative some people are! I never would have thought of turning these logs into the kings!
Thank you, Chloe! They are so easy to make, and they look pretty good, too 🙂
I love these! Such a creative idea! Pinned!
Thank you, Rebekah!
Those 3 kings are so cute! I love how rustic they are and the votive holder in front of them.
Thank you, Leslie!
Very cool idea!! Love the 3 magi logs!
Thank you, Keri!
Even though I signed up for your blog, I am not able to get the free gift tags, where it says click here nothing happens
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Have a great weekend!
I love these! I may make a whole Nativity! It’s cat-proof! I have my Grandmother’s but have been afraid to set it up for years. Question: would the logs stain evenly on the cuts or would it be horribly blotchy?
Thank you, Derry! Ah, blotchy stain – funny you should ask, because I’ve become well-versed in blotchiness lately and will be writing about it soon. Anyway, the long and the short of it is it depends on your wood. To be safe, apply a a pre-stain conditioner. They’re not perfect, but the do help a lot. Unfortunately, birch is not a good candidate for stains, especially dark stains. It takes in stain unevenly, and that’s what causes the blotches. However, because you’d be staining end grain, things may be different. You’d have to run a test piece. In any case, a conditioner would help.
Thank you, I know end grain is tricky. Good to know about birch!
OMG…. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this project– wait til the Husband gets home from work tonight and I tell him what’s on the “honey do” list this weekend— ha ha ha ♥
Thank you, Lee! Hey, as far as honey-do projects go, this one’s a breeze!
What do you mean when Santa WAS real? He fills my stocking every year. Lovely scene so simple yet effective, i love Birch bark.
LOL, thanks, Catherine!
Other comments tl;dr. Looks like you don’t like your left hand much–Photo …9 Blade rotation and cut angle could pull it right into the blade if you hit a tough spot. Not the first time I’ve seen you tempting fate…
I don’t always work as smart as I should, and so far only trivial injuries. Still each one reminds of what >could< happen.
Great site, good stories. Stay safe.
Right you are, Dean! Thanks for keeping me in check! (Handan does it all the time, too, LOL)
I agree with Derry – this would make an awesome Nativity!! Safe from kids and pets! I want your Ridgid (chop?) saw!! But your hand is really close to the blade and that scares me!! I’m much more used to my scroll saw or table saw. Does the saw ever “kick back” like the table saw can? I really like using power equipment, but I have never used a chop saw. I do need to save my fingers for quilting!!
Hi Susan, I don’t get kickback on either saw, but I make sure I don’t cut very small pieces on the miter saw.
What a cute nativity scene, and pretty easy. Except the part of cutting the wood. Power tools use to not bother me, but as I get older the more leery I am of them. Just yesterday I needed a piece of wood about 3″ round and 3″ long so I just cut a limb from a tree and then used a miter saw to cut the piece I needed then I decided why not cut some slices as well. Well I stopped when it threw the second slice at me. LOL
Thank you, Linda! Yes, cutting small pieces can get dicey, as the saw can toss them about!