OVER IN A STABLE DIY ornament craft

Make your own OVER IN A STABLE ornament with author Suzanne Nelson

My debut picture book with Zonderkidz, Over in a Stable, came out a week ago!

(You can order a copy of Over in a Stable here)

I’m thrilled to share this Christmas counting book with young readers. It introduces counting from one to ten through all of the creatures and people gathered to celebrate the very first Christmas.


Because we could all use a little Christmas cheer right now, here’s a fun and easy how-to for making your own special ornament.

When I was in preschool, I made an ornament like this one, and my mom kept it for decades. Even long after I’d grown up and had children of my own, she hung my walnut manger ornament on her family tree.

I still have a vivid memory of making the ornament, which is why I wanted to share this craft with all of you.

Author Suzanne Nelson holds up the ornament

Here’s a video how-to, followed by step-by-step instructions below:

Supplies You’ll Need

Some of the supplies you'll need
Some of the supplies you’ll need
  • Half of a walnut shell, or the bottom of a small cardboard jewelry box to make your manger
  • Aluminum foil
  • A small square of yellow felt
  • Twine or festive ribbon for making an ornament hanger
  • Crayola Model Magic air dry clay (Or, if you have colored Sculpey clay or homemade salt dough, that works too)
  • Crayola markers (You’ll only need these if you’re using Model Magic clay)
  • A glue gun and glue sticks

Making Your Ornament


First, line your walnut shell or box bottom with a small piece of aluminum foil. This will keep your clay from sticking to the shell before you’re ready to glue it into place. This will also help you shape your clay into the right size to fit your walnut shell or box.

Getting your manger ready

Line your walnut shell with a small piece of tin foil
Line your walnut shell with a small piece of tin foil
Leave a lip of tin foil around the edge
Leave a lip of tin foil around the edge

Make sure to leave a lip around the edge of your shell, so that you can lift your clay mold out later on.

Molding your baby with clay

Next, use your clay to make your baby Jesus.

If you’re using Model Magic clay, you can easily color the clay with markers. Make sure to mix the color into the clay by kneading it with your fingers.

Coloring your clay with markers
Coloring your clay with markers

Using washable markers will help the color wash right out of your fingers afterwards.

Make the swaddling cloth and the baby's head
Make the swaddling cloth and the baby’s head

I used a blue marker for the swaddling cloth, and a brown color for Jesus’s head.

If you’re using Sculpey clay, you can use colorized clay to create your baby for the ornament.

With salt dough, you can use food coloring to add colors.

Now, you can mold your clay into your shell or box to make the shape of the baby.

Baby Jesus made of clay
Baby Jesus made of clay

Once you’re happy with the way your baby looks and he fits well into the shell or box, you can carefully lift him out. Holding onto the edges of the aluminum foil, gently lift the baby and the foil out of the shell.

Then, take the baby out of the aluminum foil to let it air dry for 72 hours.

Let your clay dry for 72 hours
Let your Model Magic clay dry for 72 hours

(Note: If you’re using Sculpey clay or salt dough, follow the baking and/or curing instructions for each.)

Making the hay for the manger

While your clay is drying, you can make the hay for your manger.

First, cut a small oval of felt, making sure it fits into your shell or box with a little bit sticking up from the sides.

Next, cut small slits all the way around the felt, making a border.

Make little cuts in the felt

The finished felt
The finished felt

Putting the ornament together

Note: You will need an adult for this next step. When using a glue gun, remember that the glue and the tip of the glue gun get extremely hot. Use extreme caution when operating a glue gun and use one only with with the help of an adult.

Take your piece of ribbon or twine (around 4-6 inches long) and tie a knot at the bottom. The loop will become the hanger for your ornament.

Knot your hanger
Knot your hanger

Now, using a glue gun or craft glue, attach the bottom of the hanger to the inside top of your shell or box.

Glue your thread or ribbon into the shell
Glue your thread or ribbon into the shell

Next, glue your felt hay into the bottom of the shell or box. The edges of the hay will stick up.

Glue the felt hay into the walnut shell
Glue the felt hay into the walnut shell

Last but not least, glue the baby into the hay.

The ornament is finished
The ornament is finished

Finally, find a special spot on your Christmas tree to hang your ornament!

Hang your ornament on your tree
Hang your ornament on your tree

Then, curl up on your couch to read Over in a Stable and celebrate the very first Christmas!

Everyone in the family can make an ornament

More fun Christmas crafts

OVER IN A STABLE Nativity Nightlight craft





Related Posts