Friday, December 18, 2020

DIY Stable for Willow Tree Nativity Figures

Do you have a Nativity set? If so, how do you display it? I have three sets, and I love them all. Two sets have stables, and one did not. Check out the DIY of the wooden stable my husband built to display my Willow Tree figurines. He built it from scrap wood, so the cost was $0.00! Directions and photos are included in this post.

I had received my first beautiful Willow Tree angel as a gift from a special student, and from there my collection started to grow. 

When I first saw the Willow Tree Nativity figurines, it was love at first sight! It took a few Christmases to acquire all of the sets, and I was so happy to have my set complete. Then began - THE SEARCH! The search for the perfect stable, that is.

No offense to Willow Tree, but I don't particularly like their stable. To me, the actual stable is not in proportion to the large group of people and animals. Also, it is very expensive. I searched high and low, in stores and online, but I could never find the perfect stable for me. So, how did I display my large set? On my dresser, perhaps? They looked nice enough, but I didn't like how the attached dresser mirror reflected their backs along with everything else in the room.

I had mentioned repeatedly to others this dilemma and had talked about the possibility of building a rustic stable. But how, and with what materials? Cardboard and fake wood. was definitely out. I wanted it to look rustic and as realistic as possible. 

So this was the year! 

My husband Charlie said 

he would build me a stable!

I told him how I wanted the stable made and gave him the dimensions of the tallest figurines. I wanted a narrow roof and sides so the figurines would be more prominent, and I wanted it to look rustic with spaces between the boards.

So Charlie "set to work" in his work room/cabin shed.

For the floor, he used a piece of scrap 3/4" plywood cut to 18" wide and 12" deep. For the remainder of the stable, he used fence boards. In the back, he used 2 full boards (5-5/8" width) to meet in the center with a spall space between.  He ripped 2 boards 3-3/4" wide to complete the back wall. 

Note: Charlie used finishing nails and wood glue to attach the boards together.

Prior to attaching the boards to the back of the floor, Charlie used a straight edge to mark the slope of the roof. He then cut the boards with a circular saw. The peak of the back is 17-1/8" tall.  The end boards in the back are 15-7/8" tall on the outside edges.

For the stable sides, he cut a fence board to a 15-7/8" length. He then ripped it down the middle, making each side about 2-5/8" wide. Those boards were attached to the sides of the floor and to the back wall.

Roof boards were cut to 3-3/16" wide. One roof side is 11" long, and the other 10-5/8" long. The difference is due to the miter cut and desired rustic look. The roof boards were then attached to the back and side boards. They were then nailed and glued to each other in the top center.

For a slightly raised platform for Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus, he cut a piece of fence board  5-1/4" long. Charlie added a second piece of fence board the same length to make the platform a little more prominent.

The finished size of the stable is 17-3/4" high, 21-5/8" wide, and 12-5/8"deep.

He notched the front corners of the plywood floor to mimic the platform and give it a little more style.

And then, it was my turn! I decided to leave most of the stable unfinished, because I love the natural rustic look. I did not, however, like the layered edges of the plywood. 

Time to get out the painter's tape and distress those edges!

To remedy this, I did a "distressed faux finish" with 4 shades of tan and brown paint. I did not mix the paint; instead I squeezed 4 blobs of paint onto a plate and "dabbed" it on with a make-up sponge. I really like how it turned out. The fun part with distressing is, if you don't like it, just paint over it!

"distressed faux finish"

I wanted a distressed metal star for the top, but I didn't have one readily available. I did, however, have several sizes of wooded stars. I used several layers of Mottled Metal spray paint in bronze for this transformation. I painted both sides, letting it dry before painting the second side.

My rustic star

I attached the star to the middle of the stable with some dots of tacky glue - and - glue gun (Gorilla Glue glue-sticks). 

And now, it's done! 
My Willow Tree Figurines 
finally have a home!

Charlie and I tried several different arrangements of the Willow Tree Nativity figurines before deciding on the final one. For the people and animals not in the stable, I used pieces of suede fabric and cut jagged edges on 3 sides. The fourth side is tucked under the stable. I then crumpled it slightly before adding each figurine.

On the small shelves of my dresser, I added angels from my collection.

You can still see a reflection in the mirror, but now it's minimal.

I tried a couple different backgrounds to cover the mirror by attaching fabric across, anchoring it with a heavy object on the top shelf.

Our favorite is the dark blue background, but for now, we will leave it plain.

I am so happy with the stable. And, believe it or not, since it was made from scrap wood and materials, the total cost was $0.00!

Special thanks to Charlie who did an amazing job! 

Away in a manger...


  1. The stable is perfect for this nativity set. Kudos to both you and Charlie for your creativity! Merry Christmas to you and your family, Nancy.

    1. Thanks so much, Germaine! I do agree that my new stable is perfect. Now my set feels complete. I knew Charlie could be a crafter! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  2. Thanks for sharing! I was gifted the same beautiful WT nativity set, which I treasure. But I've been missing a stable/background and was surprised how much Willow Tree's version is. This was a great idea, and really well done. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks so much! I passed the compliment on to my husband! I hope you get a stable made for your collection.