The Gingerbread Nativity

A four-week exploration of Advent

Renita Boyle

Currently out of print £6.99


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?

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!

Gingerbread Nativity Competition

Examples of nativity scenes made using the templates in The Gingerbread Nativity

Download patterns and templates from The Gingerbread Nativity

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Author info

Renita Boyle has been described as 'a remarkable storyteller who can keep young audiences spellbound and older listeners thinking'. She is a member of the Scottish Storytelling Forum and is listed among the professional storytellers in the Scottish Storytelling directory. She is an experienced children's worker and has a BA(Hons) in Theology. Her published works include Parachute Fun for Everyone (Barnabas 2011), Parable Fun for Little Ones (Barnabas 2007) and Understanding Compassion (BRF 2004).


From Magnet Winter 2014

From the Messy Church stable, this is a useful handbook offering a creative approach to Advent based on the European tradition of decorating gingerbread houses and figures. There are four, easy to follow, one hour sessions which can be adapted for a variety of age groups or half day workshops. It concludes with a Christmas family service which showcases the gingerbread nativity - which may not be eaten! (The edible version requires baking powder.) All recipes and instructions are clearly set out.

Along with a wealth of creative ideas, there is much practical advice, like making a trial run with cardboard; how to make and work with different kinds of icing; templates for the characters are also available along with photographs online. The Reflections section offer leaders a sound biblical grounding for each session, while The Chat about section gives suggestions for ways into conversation.

Although marketed for Advent, many ideas and processes could be modified for other occasions, so a handy reference book for many Church groups

Kate Horrix

From The Church Times - 1 November 2013

The Gingerbread Nativity is this year's bonne bouche - four children's workshops exploring the Christmas story while manufacturing a gingerbread nativity scene. It took me back to presenting a Battenburg cake at an Old Testament tutorial years ago, insisting that the four segments represented J, E, D, and P, bound together by canonical marzipan.

Renita Boyle is far more convincing, and detailed instructions even prescribe the confectionery representation for animal poo. It could be a lot of messy fun for well-resourced Sunday schools or holiday clubs. But it asks a lot of its leaders, as they are expected to run a craft activity, manage a group of children, and engage while doing so in 'a spiritually meaningful chat', ideas for which are listed.

John Cox provides the sharpest course for group use, and Janet Morley the most imaginative daily resource, with Nicholson and Cormier as backup. Though, if Advent really is about standing before the judgement of the radically new, try The Gingerbread Nativity on your PCC.

From Together magazine August / September 2013

For church-based workers (and maybe even at home) here's a heads up on something from BRF Barnabas for later in the year. The Gingerbread Nativity, by Renita Boyle, is a 'four-week exploration of Advent'. It includes Advent reflections, discussion starters, recipes, templates and 'taste of the day' activities plus ideas for a gingerbread themed family service. Seems like a winner for Messy Church aficionados - or even those with less messy tendencies.

Reviewed by Clem Jackson

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857461612
  • Published: 20 September 2013
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 96
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