This is a manger, obviously mainly intended for use in Christmas services. Its design is based more upon Christmas cards than historical research, but it has been well received.
It is made from sticks, and is big enough to hold a real infant. ( We usually use a doll in the services but have used a real baby three times; in no case did the baby complain about its accommodation. ) The sticks should be more or less straight, but not so much as to look prepared. Ours were made from bits and pieces of karaka saplings, mainly because they grow like weeds in my section.
The joints are mainly nails. ( I had intended to use string lashings, but ran out of time. In practice, the nails aren't obvious. )
Here are photographs, which should give you enough inspiration to build one if you want to. I usually draw a diagram, but there's nothing critical about this design. ( Click on any picture for a full-sized version. ) The third picture shows how we usually use the manger - covered with sacking ( looks well, and keeps the straw off the floor ), and roughly lined with straw.
We used this structure in several of our services :
( We used a manger in some earlier services too, but that was different. Somehow that one disappeared, so we made this one. As I remember, the old one was made from slats rather than sticks - see, for example, the notes for the 2003 carol service; I have no idea which, if either, is the more authentic, and I don't think it matters. )