I come from a generation that, when we wanted something, figured out how to make it ourselves.
I remember seeing beautiful manger scenes and wishing to own one. Having no money for other than a cheap plastic one, the whole family set about creating our own DIY set.
The figures are made from bottles covered in paper mache and decorated with string, beads, lace or ribbon etc. Covered with gesso and painted with acrylic.
You can probably recognize the woostershire bottle shepherd, pill bottle angel, toilet paper roll animals and egg carton sheep or crib. They have become battered and worn over the years but are fun to set out each year and remember those years when Mom and six kids made one heck of a mess while stirring the creative pot.
When I first came to Japan I expected this to be a place where one could buy beautiful Christmas decorations. I was, therefore, very much surprised to find the lovely made-in-Japan things sold in the states were only export items and could not be found anywhere on the domestic market.
For a few years we made decorations from egg cartons. Glued together and decorated with string and beads, painted with gesso and gold paint and antiqued with ink. It is possible to get quite a variety using different parts of the carton.