Today we’re sharing a simple matchbox manger craft featuring baby Jesus inside a match box of felt “hay” with a Christmas star decorating the outside.
This is a sweet DIY toy idea you can make for kids to help them learn about and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Older kids will probably be able to make it themselves with a little bit of help.
My kids LOVE Christmas. They love everything about it: the parties, Santa, the reindeer, the presents, the family gatherings, the treats and all that stuff. I feel that amongst these happy things the real reason behind Christmas can get forgotten, and I like for my kids to think about why we celebrate it in the first place.
We read lots of nativity books (amongst many others) like the ones we have wrapped up and ready to go under our advent tree. This year I also decided to make my kids each a baby in a manger matchbox toy, and it has been a huge hit! They are easier to make than you think and involve just a tiny bit of sewing.
How to make a matchbox manger craft
You will need
- A matchbox – I used a paper mache matchbox that I bought from Spotlight but a real one will do just as well
- Yellow and dark blue felt
- Needle and thread
- A small neutral coloured bead (make sure it is small enough to fit inside the matchbox when closed but big enough to look like a head)
- Half a pipecleaner
- A small scrap of white material
- A fine tipped permanent marker
- fabric glue
- Make the baby: Fold the half pipe cleaner into three and slide it inside the bead for the body.
- Swaddle the baby: Fold the scrap of material around the bead on pipe cleaner the same way you’d wrap a piece of muslin around a real baby (the technique works the same only in mini). So basically fold the top edge down, wrap around the head on either side crossing over on the tummy, then bring the bottom edge up to the chin and fold around the back. Sew a stitch or two to secure under the chin, and then sew the back together.
- Draw a little sleeping face with your permanent marker.
- Make the manger: Cut out a square of yellow felt to be slightly larger than the base of the box. Fringe the square all the way around so it looks a bit more like hay, then lay it inside the box.
- Cover the outside of the box with the dark blue felt, and cut out a star to stick on the top. I used pegs to hold the felt in place while the glue dried. You could probably also use a hot glue gun instead (though I haven’t tried it that way).
Your matchbox manger craft is finished! My girls love their little manger babies.
If you have time, these would make cute gifts for school friends or even little stocking stuffers. They are so easy – who wouldn’t want a baby in a manger in their pocket?
More Nativity craft ideas
Make the Christmas nativity scene from paper with our printable template
Create some mini paper angel ornaments to hang on the tree
This paper roll angel is really easy to make