If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas program for your ward Christmas program, church, or school — then you’re in luck. This Hallelujah Christmas Shadow Nativity play turned out so well and touched everyone’s heart with the beautiful lyrics and simple visuals. The Christmas program uses minimal supplies and is very easy for kids of all ages to learn. Plus, we’ve made it even easier for you to put on your own Nativity Shadow Play by creating printable Nativity silhouettes, a script and a supply list.
This year, my kids and I had the opportunity to help out with our ward church Christmas program put on by my good friend, Debbie Polidori. My four oldest kids were on stage playing Mary, Angel #1, Wiseman #1 and Boy Jesus while my youngest sang in the chorus with the other primary aged children. We practiced a few nights beforehand and I just have to say, it was so fun to watch all the kids learning their parts but my youngest son, Rodi, who played Boy Jesus was the best to watch because every time he’d walk off stage he’d quietly fist pump to himself like “yeah, I killed it.” He was so proud of nailing the timing, it was so cute. The evening of the Christmas program, the spirit was so strong. We ended with the Shadow Nativity. Debbie (who sang the song live), my other friend Timbrell (played the piano) and the kids did such a wonderful job that most of the audience were in tears by the end.
With the help of other church members, it was fairly easy gathering all the supplies we needed to make the Shadow Nativity a success. The props we used were easy to create after drawing up some printable outlines. If you aren’t the best at free-handing then we’ve made the Nativity Silhouette printables available in our Etsy shop here. The listing also includes a supply list and script so you don’t have to worry about forgetting any items or writing up your own script for play practice. The Nativity silhouette printables are pretty self explanatory; just print, tape together, then cut out on cardboard. The outlines use minimal ink so any printer will do but if you’re in the market for a new printer, we highly recommend our EcoTank printer because the ink lasts FOREVER! We used to go through tons of ink but now we can print without ever worrying about running out of ink. It’s seriously been our favorite purchase of all time!
We used cardboard to cut everything out and reinforce it with more layers of cardboard to prevent bending. The animal’s legs and the shepherd’s canes needed the most reinforcement so I used leftover scraps of wood to secure them. If you don’t have big boxes laying around, Home Depot sells extra large moving boxes that are super helpful but our favorite trick we figured out was to use the cardboard dividers at Costco. They have tons of them on hand and they’re free! Just ask an employee and they’ll either let you gather them or an employee will go and gather as many as you need. We love them because they are large, easy to cut and don’t have creases like boxes do.
For the Nativity costumes, one of the parents had a bunch of Nativity costumes of all sizes that we used. We ended up only having to purchase this angel set on Amazon to finish off one of the angel’s costumes and that was it. A Christmas miracle if you ask me! If you don’t know anyone or don’t want to spend a lot of money getting actual costumes, sheets and fabric with some rope work just as well for most of the costumes. Especially since you’ll only be seeing the silhouette.
Unfortunately we were limited on space because we don’t have a stage at our church building. The stage we had wasn’t very long so we had to make a few adjustments like not being able to go the full height of the stable and cutting out 2 of the shepherd’s in the ending scene so everyone else could fit but ideally you would like to keep all the cast members on stage for that scene. But that being said, we still made it work. Debbie and her husband used large white sheets, sewn together and hanging up onto a rope that was tied to each side of the gym. And for the cast & props to be hidden when not in a scene, black fabric was strung up on the same rope, covering the sides of the stage. Even with the smaller stage, it still turned out amazing.
The last thing you’ll need is a large light to illuminate the entire backdrop. We did this with a large studio light from Amazon that we purchased for other projects. You’ll want just one main light source so the shadows aren’t blurred. And we realized that the actors and props looked more crisp the closer they were to the hanging sheets and less crisp the closer they got to the light. So as you’re practicing, make sure to remind the actors to stand as close as possible to the hanging sheets. The light needs to be strong enough to illuminate the entire stage area. The spotlight we used worked great but if you need something cheaper, a powerful work light like this one would work as well, plus it uses LED bulbs so you don’t need to worry about it getting hot.
Whether you’re putting on a ward Christmas program, church Christmas program, school Christmas program, or want to add the Nativity Story to your family traditions, I can’t recommend enough doing a Hallelujah Christmas Shadow Nativity!