The Gingerbread Nativity

Published 1st July 2013 by Messy Church

by Renita Boyle

A four-week exploration of Advent.

The perfect recipe for a memorable and tasty exploration of Advent and Christmas!

The Gingerbread Nativity uses the popular tradition of making and decorating gingerbread houses and biscuits to explore the themes of Advent and the story of the first Christmas. It includes instructions, diagrammatic illustrations, recipes and top tips for making, baking and decorating, as well as fake or no bake and allergy-free alternatives. It also includes Advent reflection and discussion starters for each session; 25 ‘taste-a-day’ family activities; ideas for a gingerbread themed family service and ‘choose and use’ ideas for adapting the material for use in other settings.

The Gingerbread Nativity is ideal for Sunday schools and midweek clubs, but whether you choose to use it in four weekly sessions, as a half day workshop or in Messy Church, with small groups or large, single age or all age, at home or as part of a community fete, the material is sure to inspire Advent fun for everyone.


This book has all the right ingredients – recipes, techniques, stories, suggestions, templates – but one thing is missing: the wonderful, comforting, nostalgic aroma of freshly baked spicy gingerbread! Bring on the scratch and sniff page! More seriously, I recommend this book to children’s and family workers, all-age ministry leaders, Messy Church teams, individuals and the whole family. Because we all have a challenge…

Having recently visited Germany, I particularly recall the beautiful bakery shop windows. We salivated at the displays of creative cakes with handwritten descriptions; and when we entered the shop itself there was even more to tempt us!

I feel that the challenge as a Christian at Christmas is a huge one. We know that more and more people of all ages celebrate Christmas but are unaware of its true meaning. Who is going to tell them? It is our individual duty to do so. Jesus asks each of us to share his story.

This book is a great tool to use in this way. Imagine this book to be the bakery shop window. Who will you invite to look in with you? Who needs to know what else is inside?

The birth of Jesus is so important, and yet can we assume that all ages are looking in the window of discovery? Unfortunately they are not. They are just walking on by. We need to lead them and start them on this journey of discovery.

The world is full of instant gratification. Modern technology allows us to view, hear, purchase, share and much more, just with the click of a mouse. Yet at the same time we are finding that there is a resurgence in creating homemade gifts, craft making, baking, knitting and sewing. All ages are discovering the pleasure and reward of making something rather than buying it off the shelf. New websites, blogs, TV programmes, knit and natter groups and workshops are popping up, inviting you to have a go, learn together, and create for yourself or friends and family. Indeed, one of the core values of Messy Church is creativity, and all ages are responding to the invitation and coming back for more.

I encourage you to trust in God and get stuck in! Trust in Renita, a renowned storyteller and practitioner in all things creative! Trust in this book and do what it says on the tin!

Jane Leadbetter is the author of Messy Nativity (BRF, 2012) and runs L19: Messy Church and L19: Who Let The Dads Out?

Examples of nativity scenes made using the templates in The Gingerbread Nativity can be seen by clicking on the cover for more images.

If you would like to try out a shared project for your Sunday or midweek group, why not try making a Gingerbread Nativity? Renita Boyle’s book The Gingerbread Nativity gives full instructions on how to get baking and decorating as a fun way for small groups to celebrate Advent – and build up a lovely Christmassy feeling! As well as all of the practical tips, recipes and instructions, there are also discussion ideas to help you think about the real meaning of Christmas. And if baking is not practical… there are fake or ‘no-bake’ alternatives to try instead. Take a look at Renita on YouTube to get an even better idea of how it is done!