Make your own Santons de Provence

Make your own Santons de Provence

Come learn about Santons de Provence, a beautiful French Christmas tradition. Then make your own French-inspired nativity scene with a little clay, paint, and creativity!

The idea of a nativity scene began with Saint Francis in Italy in the 1200s.  He brought together real people and animals to create a living nativity. Churches over the years have displayed large nativity scenes.

When there was a revolution in France in the 1700s, it was sometimes not possible for people to go to church. The French people started making small nativity scenes for their homes.

In the 1800s, Santons de Provence began to become famous in the south of France.  Santons (meaning “little saints”) are commonly made of clay and painted by hand.

Santons de provence villagers

Santons de Provence nativity scenes include not only the Holy Family, but also many other people (such as a baker, a teacher, a doctor, a mom and her child, and countless other people).

Santons de Provence remind us that we are all called to come adore the Christ Child in the manger.

Santons de Provence

Santons de Provence remind us that we are all called to come adore the Christ Child in the manger.

Our family’s Santons de Provence collection began with baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and a donkey, and over the years it has grown. Each year we add a new figure or two. Sometimes the added figure relates to our life that year, for example a mother and a child when a new baby was born in our family, and an apothecary during the COVID pandemic. Our scene also includes Saint Francis, as he is a dear saint to our family and to remember that he began the idea of nativity scenes.

Having a Santons de Provence collection is a beautiful Christmas tradition. Our family looks forward to setting out the scene each Advent, and the first thing we do on Christmas morning is to come to see that baby Jesus has been placed in the stable. 

If you are interested in starting your own collection, and planning a trip to France is not a possibility, there are a number of online stores that sell Santons de Provence. We have ordered Santons from Santons de France USA for many years.

If you would like to create your own Santons de Provence-inspired nativity scene, keep reading to learn about a few ways to create your own nativity scene.

Ready to create your own Santons?

Santons de Provence are typically made from clay, so for authentic but simple material for making your own santons, we recommend terra cotta color air dry clay. Once it dries, the clay can be painted with acrylic paint. You may want to use clay tools for more detailed work.

diy santons de provence

Despite air dry clay being a more authentic material, we have found that using Model Magic makes for a project that avoids mess and also creates sturdy figures (ready for little hands to play with!). Here is a link for a class pack of Model Magic (in our family, we love having this on hand for many fun projects), but small packages are also available.

Toothpicks may be helpful to support the clay as it dries and to add details or texture.

Model Magic can be painted after it dries with watercolor paint. Any watercolor paint will work, but higher quality water color may work best. If the figures are small, fine-tipped paint brushes will be helpful for details.

diy santons de provence

Part of the fun of making your own Santons de Provence inspired nativity is that figures can be created that are special to you and your life. For example, our 11-year old loves bunnies, baking, and playing the guitar, so she created some new santons to add to her collection this year inspired by these loves. Making a patron saint figure would also be lovely. Of course making your own santons does not mean they need to look exactly like Santons de Provence, you can create your own style, as our daughter did.

diy santons de provence
diy santons de provence
diy santons de provence

Before making your own Santons de Provence inspired nativity, you might enjoy watching some authentic Santons de Provence creators at work in France. We’ve gathered up a collection of videos below that show the creators at work. The videos are in French, so if you are new to French, just watch (and perhaps you’ll recognize a French words too!). You’ll be able to see the great variety of santons that are made. You’ll also see that santons are made using a molds in order to mass produce many of the same type of santon. However, the molds are produced from originally sculpting a santon out of clay, so for making your own santons, you will not need a mold… just create your own originals by sculpting your clay. 

We hope you enjoy making your own Santons de Provence-inspired nativity scenes, or perhaps start an authentic Santons de Provence nativity collection to add even more joy to the Christmas season! 

Joyeux Noël !

Que Dieu vous

bénisse!

santons de provence

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

Homemade Easter Decorations that Last

Homemade Easter Decorations that Last

Making Easter decorations together that can last for years is a special treat!  In this post, we’ll show you how to make an Easter scene with peg dolls, hand painted wooden eggs, and an Easter garland.

Easter Story Peg Dolls

Our family really enjoyed creating an Easter peg doll scene a few years ago.  Having an Easter scene provides a tangible experience for children to imagine the details of the story of Easter, like a manger scene does at Christmastime.

We chose 2 3/8 inch size peg dolls, but you could choose any size. We loved looking at the ideas on Catholic Icing. for inspiration on how to paint the peg dolls. If you are not up for painting, Catholic Icing also has printable decoupage designs to make creating the peg dolls even easier.

Catholic Icing also has a very well done resurrection story that combines the multiple gospel stories into one to make it easier for children to understand the details.

 

easter peg dolls

We found that getting some extra peg dolls was helpful so that our toddler could paint the dolls however she wanted to while the older children and mom and dad worked on the details of the Easter figures.  She loved painting and playing with these dolls!

good friday peg dolls

We originally made our Calvary Hill and tomb using air dry clay.  We found that the clay crumbled over the years.  This year, we remade Calvary Hill and the tomb using Model Magic.  Modle Magic is much sturdier and lightweight, so we think it will hold up better to playing.

 

 

We used a plastic container for the base of the hill, then covered it with Model Magic. We then placed real stones on the hill, and secured a wooden cross into the clay.  Finally we pained the Model Magic and stones with a watered down light brown acrylic paint. For the tomb, we began with a cardboard structure, and covered it with Model Magic, then added rocks and paint. Our 4-year-old had so much fun placing the rocks in the clay! It takes quite a bit of model magic to make the tomb and Calvary Hill, so we recommend a large tub of Model Magic.

We also remade our crucified Jesus figure this year. (Once again, air dry clay did not hold up over the years, but we think Model Magic will.) We used a wooden bead for the head to make the head about the same size and look as the peg dolls.  We used floral wire to form the body, and then covered the wire in Model Magic.  In order to easily attach the figure of Jesus to the cross on Good Friday, we tied a string under the head that fits around the top of the cross.

peg doll jesus crucified

We wrap the Jesus figure in a small cloth and place the figure in the tomb on Good Friday.  On Easter Sunday morning, the children wake up to find the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty.  We like to hide the figure of the resurrected Jesus somewhere in the room so that the children have the experience of looking for Jesus, like his friends did on the very first Easter morning. We also place flowers near the tomb as a reminder that the tomb was in a garden… and to add even more Easter joy!

easter peg dolls

Painted Wooden Eggs

We made this set of nesting eggs many years ago, and it is still a favorite to display when we decorate.  Even the youngest children can decorate eggs… our newborn at the time used her fingerprints to make dots on the egg. It’s fun to paint names on the eggs, as well as the year the eggs were painted.  

To create your set of eggs, find a wooden egg set (or multiple sets) that allows each member of the family to paint at least one egg. 

We used acrylic paints to paint the eggs, and then gave them a coating of Mod Podge.

nesting easter eggs

The year my parents had their 12th grandchild, each grandchild painted a wooden egg, and we presented them with a carton of a dozen eggs on Easter.  We got two sets of these wooden eggs (which are already painted white).

Rather than use an old egg carton, we found cute colorful cartons to store and display the eggs.

Joyful Easter Banner

Catholic Easter Garland

Creating an Easter garland together can be fun, as each member of the family can create a part of it.  If you are looking for something simple, consider coloring our Easter hymn garland (an instant download on Etsy).  For full details on creating this simple, garland, click here. Or use your own ideas to create your own beautiful banner to celebrate Easter… so many possibilities!  Have fun!

Happy Easter!

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

Make your own doll donuts!

Make your own doll donuts!

Watch our YouTube tutorial and have fun making these cute donuts for your dolls.  We use Model Magic, which is easy to shape and sturdy when it dries.  Scroll down to get our FREE donut box printable and other doll ideas too!

doll donut diy
doll donut box

Click on the image to get our FREE donut box printable.  Print on cardstock, then watch our YouTube short to see how to easily cut, fold, and glue the box.

doll food box printable

More fun doll ideas…

American Girl Doll Party Ideas

Doll birthday party

Knit a doll hat

Hand-sewn doll clothes

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

Cinnamon Rolls for Dolls

Cinnamon Rolls for Dolls

Watch our YouTube video to learn how to easily make play food for your dolls, using Model Magic.  This type of clay is easy to work with and makes sturdy doll food.  Grab our free printable to make a pastry box for your doll treats too! (Our YouTube short will show you how to make the box.)

play doll food
doll play food

Supplies:

Model Magic

Paint brush

Jar of water

Watercolors

White acrylic paint

Ground cinnamon

doll food box printable

More fun doll ideas…

American Girl Doll Party Ideas

Doll birthday party

Knit a doll hat

Hand-sewn doll clothes

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.

Thanksgiving Hymn Garland – to color and create

Thanksgiving Hymn Garland – to color and create

Decorate your home for Thanksgiving with this fun craft the whole family can enjoy making together!  You can download our FREE printable, or you can simply let the idea inspire your own creation.  And if you would like book recommendations for some cozy Thanksgiving reading time, keep reading for some of our favorites at the end of this post… Cranberry Thanksgiving, Balloons Over Broadway, Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, and The Lion and the Bird.

thanksgiving Christian banner

The banner has pencil sketch style leaf images overlayed with words from the hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

As the children colored, we realized that this would be a good opportunity to really look closely at fall leaves… there are often many different colors in each leaf.  

 

Our FREE Thanksgiving place cards coordinate nicely with the garland.  These are so fun for children to write on and color to make your guests feel welcome!  Click on the image to get your FREE place card printable.

fall place card
fall place card

If you would like to listen to the song as you create your banner, you might like to try this version by Michelle Swift.

Let’s make a garland…

Print the images on cardstock

Click here to get our FREE printable, and print the images on cardstock.  Some of the leaves have words from the hymn.  Other images have no words.  You can string them together in a pattern you like, using all or only some of the images.  Alternatively, you could draw your own leaves and write the words of your choice.

Color the leaves and pumpkins

Color the leaves and pumpkins.  You may want to look closely at real leaves from your yard for inspiration.  Fall leaves often really have many different colors in each leaf.

Cut out the images.

Some of the leaf shapes are quite detailed.  Don’t worry if they are not cut perfectly.

Punch 2 holes in each leaf/pumpkin

Punch 2 holes at the top of each pumpkin/leaf.  Punching 2 holes, rather than one, helps the shapes to stay facing forward when they are strung on the garland.

String the images to create the garland

Cut a long piece of twine, ribbon, or yarn.  Thread the twine (or ribbon or yarn) through the holes.  Consider the order of the hymn.  Add in wordless images if you would like to.

toddler thanksgiving craft

Toddler tip...

We found it was helpful to print some extra pages that our toddler could have all to herself.  She was quite proud of her own little banner (we love it too)!  These Melissa and Doug toddler scissors help make cutting safer.

If you enjoy making this garland, and would like to make one for another holiday (including Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and the 4th of July), you can find other garland printables in our little Etsy shop.

Our favorite books for a cozy fall and Thanksgiving family reading time…

(The book images are Amazon links if you are interested in finding out more about the books.)

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves is a sweet story about a little fox who is so concerned about the leaves that fall from his tree, but then comes to learn of the beauty of the changing seasons.  The illustrations are adorable!

With Melissa Sweet’s illustrations, Ballons Over Broadway is a joy to read!  The book tells the story of the beginnings of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  We had fun making balloon puppets and having our own little parade after reading this book.

Cranberry Thanksgiving is a classic with some sweet lessons about forgiveness, hospitality, and not judging others from the outside.  We first learned about this book years ago when doing a 5 in a Row reading program, and have read it every year since then at Thanksgiving time. 

The Lion and the Bird is a beautiful story of friendship and care for others.  This book has very few words, and the pictures tell a sweetly slow-paced story.  A beautiful book to look at over and over again.

Note:  Some links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links.  Sparkles and Sprinkles is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Other links may or may not be affiliate links.  We provide links because we have found these products or services beneficial, and we think you might too.