Gifts of the Wise Men DIY Props: Real Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh
This year, as part of my Christmas ministering message, I wrote about the gifts the Wise Men brought baby Jesus. I decided to also share one of our family traditions of bringing out a box of real gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We have a wonderful box that was passed down from my grandma, and I always assumed it would be really expensive to recreate. But after some research, I found out it wouldn’t be hard at all to make our own little Gifts of the Wise Men DIY Props to share with family and friends!
Every Christmas Eve, our family gathers together to reenact the nativity. It is a treasured tradition. Thanks to my mother-in-law, we even have wonderful costumes! When my kids were little, they were cute little sheep. Now that they are older, they usually pick Mary or a Wise Man. My kids love that every year their dad is the donkey.
As part of the tradition, the Wise Men bring a box full of real gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It is so neat for my kids to actually smell and handle the gifts that were given to Christ so long ago. They are always super excited about the gold! And I love that they know what frankincense and myrrh feel like and smell like. If you want to better release the smell of the frankincense and myrrh, try rubbing it in your fingers, crushing it, or burning it at incense.
I made a printable at the end of the post to go along with the Gifts of the Wise Men box that explains what is inside the box. I also included some of the symbolic meanings I mention in my “Do the Gifts of the Wise Men Point to the Garden of Eden?” Christmas ministering post.
Gifts of the Wise Men DIY Props Tutorial
- Wood Box (3.5 x 3.5 x 2 In)
- 15ml Glass Bottles
- Gold Flakes
- Distilled Water
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Velvet, wool felt, or Aspen Wood Excelsior
- Hot glue
- Vinyl labels
1. Prepare Boxes
Prepare the boxes by lightly sanding them and adding a stain. My favorite stain is Watco because it acts as a stain and finish in one step. The wood boxes that I link to are the perfect size for the 15ml, 0.87″(diameter) x 2.56″(height) glass bottles.
2. Add Padding
Once the stain dries, you will want to add padding so that the bottles don’t rattle around. I used some homemade wool felt that I had made. It is actually super easy to do. But you can also use velvet, store-bought wool felt, or aspen wood excelsior. I liked the idea of using real wool since it reminded me of the Lamb of God.
I cut the felt out to size (for this box it was 3 x 3 inches). Then I hot glued it on the inside top and bottom.
Another advantage of putting in a liner is that on the inside of the boxes some spots had glue on them where the stain didn’t absorb evenly. The felt helped hide this and made the box look tidier.
3. Add Vinyl Decals
Next you can add any vinyl embellishment you want to the top of the box or just leave it plain. I found this star online and cut it with my Silhouette. Since the Wise Men follow the Christmas star, I thought putting the gift under the star would be appropriate. I also cut out vinyl labels for the bottles of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
4. Fill Frankincense and Myrrh Bottles
Now you can fill your frankincense and myrrh bottles. They are small bottles, so you might need to look for smaller pieces. Or you can crush the larger ones up to fit better.
5. Adding Gold Flakes
Adding the gold flakes is a bit harder. The gold flakes are very thin and fragile. So be sure you are working in an area without any breeze. For example, inside, away from a window, and not by a fan. Even breathing hard on them can send them flying. You will also want to use tweezers so that you don’t touch them with your hands. Some of the flakes got stuck to my tweezers, so I squirted it off and into the bottle with one of those syringes you get from the pharmacist.
6. Snow Globe Mixture
Once you have the gold flakes in the bottle, it is time to add the snow globe mixture. I filled each bottle with 1 tsp. glycerine and 1 tsp. rubbing alcohol. Then I topped it off using distilled water. The glycerin helps break up the surface tension that sticks the flakes together and also keeps the flakes floating around for longer. The alcohol prevents bacteria from growing. And the distilled water doesn’t have any contaminants.
If you are worried about little hands opening up the bottle or the bottle leaking, you can add some super glue on the top of the glass bottle before screwing the lid on. Just make sure you are ready to close it up permanently!
The gold flakes are actually not very much money and look much larger and substantial in the floating water. In fact, many people use the gold flakes for putting on cupcakes and things!
NOTE: You can also use rocks spray painted gold or pretend gold nuggets, but I love the idea that everything is the real thing in this box.
7. Add the Bottles to the Box.
8. “Meanings of the Gifts of the Wise Men” Printable
Print out the “Meanings of the Gifts of the Wise Men” printable. I cut them out and then folded them into threes to fit inside the boxes.