Do You Prepare A Nativity Tray?

Christmas Eve is tomorrow…YIKES…and I want to share with you a tradition in our home. This Christmas Eve will be our seventeenth year to prepare a Nativity Tray, which is actually a medieval English custom.


I first read about this custom in the book, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I thought it was such a wonderful thing to do. To me, it epitomizes the spirit of, “goodwill toward men”.
If you have the Simple Abundance book you can read all about the Nativity Tray on the December 24 entry, for those of you who don’t, here is an excerpt from the book.

“…Legend has it that on the night of the nativity, whosoever ventures out into great snows bearing a succulent bone for a lost and lamenting hound, a wisp of hay for a shivering horse, a warm cloak for a stranded wayfarer, a garland of bright berries for one who has worn chains, a dish of crumbs for all huddled birds who thought their song was dead, and sweetmeats for little children who peer from lonely windows–whosoever prepares this simple abundant tray, ‘shall be proffered and returned gifts of such an astonishment as will rival the hues of the peacock and the harmonies of heaven’.” (Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach)

For us, as with most of you, Christmas is not about what we may receive. It’s about giving and sharing, in simple ways, that is the true meaning of Christmas.


I apologize for the quality of the photo…it was freezing outside and my hands were shaking!

On Christmas Eve, before we go to bed, we all bundle up (or not!) and venture into the cold backyard. We place a bowl of birdseed, a pile of cut up apples, a dish of cranberries, a pile of torn up bread, peelings from the potatoes used to make the turkey dressing, a handful of nuts, a few cut up carrots and any other pieces of fruit or vegetable we have on hand. Every Christmas morning we check the tray and without exception, it has always been empty!

Do you put a Nativity Tray? Are you going to start this tradition with your family? What will you put on your tray?

Tell me about your Christmas traditions. I would love to hear how you spend Christmas!

Wishing you and those you love a very Merry Christmas filled with all things wonderful!



  1. We did this last year and gave one as a gift. Thank you!!

    • This is probably my favourite Christmas tradition Laura and even with grown kids we still do it every year. Love the idea of giving one as a gift! Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas.

  2. I had to click just because I had never heard of this before!! You guys looked cold, I hope no one gets sick, and have a Merry Christmas

  3. Juniebeth richardson says

    Yes is still have and use my ironing board. Not every one lives in the land of STRETCH/SPANDEX……I love seeing creases in my dress pants and blouses and my husbands dress shirts. Love your blog by the way!!!

  4. Jan Tebbutt says

    What a fabulous idea the Nativity Tray. I wish I would have found you before Christmas-tide! I will be sharing this idea around to my family and you can believe that we will all have Nativity Trays next year. Maybe I’ll put one out on New Years Eve!

    Blessing to you and yours, jan

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