Have I told you about our Fontanini Nativity Set. I’m a big Fontanini fan. Have you heard of it? Fontanini figures have been designed and handmade in Italy for 110 years. They’re sophisticated looking and beautifully hand-painted, but they’re made of resin and totally kid-friendly.

They look like they could be fancy, but I don’t mind a bit when little ones play with them — and holy moly little kids are drawn to them. They’re fairly irresistible. (Especially Baby Jesus who begs to be lifted out of his manger and wrapped in their favorite blankie.)

Fontanini figures are collectibles and a collection can grow as big as you’d like. The options for new additions are pretty much endless. You can basically create the whole town of Bethlehem in Fontanini figures. Sure, there’s the stable and expected key nativity figures, but there’s also a bakery, and a drummer boy, and an elephant (because why not have one of the 3 wiseman riding an elephant?). Plus dozens, if not hundreds, of other pieces. If you’re curious, you can read about the history of Fontanini pieces here.

Our very first Christmas, 23 years ago, my mother gifted Ben Blair and me this simple nativity set — think of it like a Fontanini Starter Set, and we’ve added pieces over the years. Wisemen, shepherds, an angel, a stable (our stable isn’t an official Fontanini stable, but I like it a ton), sheep, a donkey. Most recently, a set of two camels.

There are three different sizes that you can collect — 3.5 inch scale, 5 inch scale, and 7.5 inch scale. If you start shopping, be sure you’re choosing pieces that are in the same scale. I collect the smallest ones, the 3.5 inch figures.

Fontanini is not inexpensive, and can sometimes be tricky to find, which also makes them ideal for collecting slowly. I like watching for deals in the spring when no one is thinking about Nativity sets. Sometimes you can find awesome pieces on eBay! And if you find a local shop who carries Fontanini, they sometimes clear them out in January. If there’s a particular piece you’re searching for, there are whole stores dedicated to nothing but Fontanini. You can also find them seasonally at Neiman Marcus.

Do you have a nativity set you love? Do the Fontanini figures appeal to you? Or are they too formal and sober looking? How do feel about expanding a nativity set to include not just the stable, but a whole village?