Christmas Night Blog Nativity Sets, Outdoor Christmas Displays
and Fontanini Creche Figures

OUR PANAMA CHRISTMAS

January 25th, 2013 by blogadmin

panama

As you may know, we import most of our Christmas figures from our factories in the Philippines and China. The figures and Nativity Sets are shipped in steel shipping containers on large ocean going container vessels, such as the ones shown below All of these large ships arrive at our New York Port via the Panama Canal.

For our Christmas break this year we decided to visit Panama and see the country and how the canal works for product like ours. What a surprising country Panama is! Rather than some Central American backwater, Panama City resembles Miami with high rise offices and condos right on the water. High end hotels and sophisticated restaurants cater to international business people and tourists. A network of roads and expressways tie the city together, anchored by the PanAmaerican Highway and they are building a subway. The country is safe for visitors, the people are friendly and welcoming and the currency is the US Dollar. If my narrative sounds like we enjoyed it and will go back, we already plan to.

Panamanians love parties and fiestas and have more national holidays than most countries. Just before we arrived there had been a big Christmas Fiesta and parade. Several of the parade floats featured giant Nativity figures and, after the parade, these were displayed in a park on the Causeway Highway, connecting downtown Panama to the old city and the Canal. The Nativity figures are made locally and don’t have the artistic detail of our figures, but for parade floats celebrating the true meaning of Christmas they are perfect. More on where and how these figures are made in our next post. Here are some photos showing the figures displayed on the  Causeway with the city skyline behind. Looks like Miami doesn’t it?

THANK YOU!

December 22nd, 2012 by blogadmin

Again, thank you for a terrific 2012. We are sold out of most sets and figures, just in time for Christmas. Next year we will have to stock more Santa, Sleigh and Reindeer combinations, more Nutcracker pairs, more large Santa and Snowmen, more bears and more six foot Nativities.

For 2013, we have designed and created new Santa and Snowmen, additional Nativity figures, leaping, prancing and trotting reindeer and new outdoor Husky Dog Sets. By popular demand, we will have two new Giant Camels, one standing and one resting, in addition to a giant Standing Ox, all for our 6ft Nativity. A new 66″ Tin Toy Soldier will supplement our outdoor offerings.

We plan to bring in a selection of Giant Hanging Baubles for larges spaces and a greater variety of dogs for our Saint Francis Garden website.

We will soon be showing pictures of many of the new items on our blog. Please “watch this space”

Best wishes for Christmas 2012 and a happy 2013.

How to Make Your Nativity Scene Appear Larger-Than-Life

November 8th, 2012 by mannymichaels

For many people, Christmas just isn’t the same without a charming Nativity scene. Life size Nativity sets can brighten up any front lawn. They also remind us of what Christmas is truly about—commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Nativity scene is intended to remind us of the manger in which Christ was born. It typically includes a wooden stable, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, three kings, the shepherds and their animals and an angel. Nativity scenes are to be reminiscent of the miracle that took place a long time ago in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born and laid in a manger on Christmas day.

Mary watches her child

Made of the most durable fiberglass, outdoor Nativity scenes are a special way to share holiday joy with family, friends and neighbors. So, regardless of which set you choose, don’t be surprised if your lawn becomes the neighborhood sensation. After all, who isn’t fascinated by the story of Christmas reproduced in life size figurines?

Here are four tips for making your Nativity scene appear larger-than-life:

  1. All about location – Making your nativity scene appear larger than normal depends a lot on the location. Find an area that best fits all of your characters without squishing them too closely together. Begin by placing the stable in the middle with the characters scattered equally around it. Next, consider your surroundings. Place your Nativity scene around one lone tree or as beautiful runway leading to your front door.
  2. Proper lighting – When selecting the lighting for your nativity scene try to use large flashlights with square handles—they are easier to work with. Place the lights so that baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph are the focus of the scene. For a more dramatic look, use an outdoor floodlight or spotlight to illuminate the display more profoundly. This will help to expand the radius of your Nativity scene.
  3. Embellish the scenery – Give your Nativity set life by placing real poinsettias or potted winter plants around the stable and characters. For a more natural look, include pinecones and hay as décor. To create a divine appearance, place the angel on a crate or oversized box draped in fabric. The extra height will give the Nativity scene an embellished appearance.
  4. Add a touch of nostalgia – For a whimsical touch, hang strands of twinkle lights at the back of the display. This lighting affect will emphasize the scene’s overall beauty, giving it a magical ambience. You can also place another square handled flashlight below baby Jesus to illuminate his crib, emphasizing the miracle of Christmas.

Nativity scene waits for baby Jesus, Lima, Peru

Outdoor Nativity sets make great lawn arrangements for the holiday season. They help to better illustrate the story of the night that Jesus came to earth in order to create an eternal life for all mankind. By following these simple tips, your Nativity scene will not only be larger-than-life, but also the best decoration in the whole neighborhood.

Five Trends in Christmas Decorating

October 9th, 2012 by blogadmin

Decorating your home for Christmas used to be mainly inside the house and was focused on the room with the tree.Many of us can remember going out to cut or purchase a live tree, bringing the boxes and boxes of tree lights and decorations out of storage and the fun of placing the tree in a stand, wrapping the lights around (and trying to find out which one in the string was causing the problem), hanging baubles , tinsel and icicles and finishing with the tree topper and tree skirt.

How have our lives changed? We have less time. We want things prepared or done for us and we are prepared to pay for the convenience. Many of us have less space to store all the tree decorations, but many of us have larger homes with more connection to the outdoors. New technologies and less expensive overseas manufacturing have impacted the kind of Christmas decorations we display.

We have written before on the movement to bring Christ back into Christmas with Nativity Sets, the use of pre-decorated trees and the movement to outdoor decorating. These trends continue to change the face of Christmas decorating. There are. however, several new developments which have impacted the preparation for Christmas celebration.

1. The return of the original reason for Christmas, that is, the birth of Jesus Christ, has created a growing demand for traditional Nativity sets, with the larger sets often replacing the Christmas tree as a focal point for the celebration.

2. When a Christmas tree is the focal point, it is often a pre-lit, pre-decorated tree ,which is complete out of the box. This saves a lot of time but loses the closeness of the family ritual.

3. Newer homes often  merge indoor and outdoor space and this invites more outdoor Christmas decorating. The decorating can be shared with the neighbors or can become community projects.

led-santa4. Most Christmas Lighting has become LED in different tones, replacing the incandescent C-7 or mini light. The look is often brighter and there is a saving in use of electricity.This lighting evolution also applies to large lighted Christmas Displays such as animated Toy Trains and Santa, Sleigh and Reindeer

fiberglass-santa5. Life Size and larger fiber glass Christmas display figures such as Santa, Sleigh and Reindeer, Nutcrackers, Toy Soldiers, Santa, Snowmen  and Christmas Carolers.were mostly seen in commercial displays in shopping centers, retail stores and municipalities. Overseas manufacturing and more accessible pricing and wider distribution have brought these impressive figures home for outdoor decorating.

In general, there are  many more Christmas Decorating options than ever before.

Our Customers Write

September 19th, 2012 by blogadmin

We send website newsletters every few weeks to our mailing list of past and present customers.  In these newsletters we try to include advice on Christmas decorating and Nativities. We show pictures of new products and special offers as well as regular features of our website such as our free pictures and our Lay Away Plan.

A few weeks after we ship a product we ask the customer to rate the product and our service, with both  a comment and  a zero to five star score. We receive some wonderful comments and we have published the best in our blog.

We had one recently that we want to share with you.

customer-photo

Jeanette Ricker writes:

Husband Arthur built the stable; he’s been a building contractor and inspector.  [The building can be dismantled for storage.]  For several years now, we’ve wanted to add the 3 Kings…as well as cattle and/or a donkey, etc.  Truth is, we just can’t seem to afford to do so.  We have a HUGE family – growing by leaps and bounds – and by the time we plan gifts for those we MUST gift, there’s just nothing left for our outdoor display.  We’d take you up on your “buy now, pay later” plan, but every January 1st we end up so “far behind” that this kind of planning doesn’t help us at all.  WE DO keep your catalog and ads handy and – if and when we feel we are able – will be in touch to add pieces to our outdoor Christmas display.  Thank you for keeping US in mind!

Jeanette F. Ricker – dba The Executive Assistant - execasst2@tampabay.rr.com

Husband – Arthur W. Ricker, Jr

The Benefits of Preparing for Christmas Early

September 10th, 2012 by mannymichaels

.christmas snowflake foodWith the summer quickly disappearing into the rear view mirror and the cool air beginning to make a sweep over the entire country, people are rushing to get fall decorations up and the shift has been made from sweet, summery fruit-flavored foods and snacks to apple spice and pumpkin flavors.

It’s a beautiful time of the year as the leaves begin to change and eventually fall to the ground, and of course the fall means one more thing: that Christmas is right around the corner, whether you want to believe it or not!

Many families begin preparing for the next Christmas as soon as the current year’s ends – and others wait until December 24th to begin preparations. But the sooner you can prepare for the holiday season, the better. Here are some benefits to starting preparations now, if you haven’t already.

More Budget for Shopping

Oh Ginger DisplayIn a tough economy like today’s, finding the money to be able to afford a wonderful holiday season can be a tough feat. The shopping, the baking, the cooking, the greeting cards…everything adds up quickly, and if you aren’t prepared, the expenses can be overwhelming.

If you start to plan for the holidays well in advance of the actual season, you’ll have the opportunity to save some money as you go so that you have a large budget when it comes time to make the necessary holiday purchases.

Take Advantage of More Sales

Getting all of the Christmas shopping done all at once might not be the best or most budget-friendly idea. Sure, there are always sales on Black Friday, but for the majority of the rest of the holiday season, prices on high-demand items are actually higher than they would be at other times throughout the year.

By preparing early, you can take advantage of sales that occur throughout the year. If your kids have a list of gifts they would like for Christmas, there’s no reason not to purchase one of them in September if you see the item on sale. Keep in mind, too, that all holiday items go on major clearance sales after the holidays pass, so perhaps the best time to start preparing for next Christmas really is the day after this year’s Christmas.

Prepare the Decorations

If you have large Christmas decoration displays, like giant outdoor Nativity sets or a life size Santa for the kids, preparing for the holidays early will give you plenty of time to get the necessary items out of storage and ready for display.

Shopping for Christmas decorations in the off-season is also much cheaper than if you were to wait until the last minute. Staple decor items like lights, Nativity scenes, wreaths and even garland can be found at specialty shops throughout the year at much lower prices than they’re set around Christmastime.

More Time to Enjoy

The last thing you want to be doing during the holidays is racing around like a maniac trying to get everything done. By making sure you’ve made all of your necessary purchases and prepared for house guests and prepared your decorations early, you’ll have already eliminated much of the stress surrounding the holidays.

That will, of course, leave you with more time to relax and enjoy the time with your family! And there’s nothing more important during the holidays than being able to enjoy the company and make memories and traditions together, so make sure you get the hard parts done early, and you’ll have nothing but a wonderful holiday season!

From Our Wonderful Customers

July 18th, 2012 by blogadmin

After we ship an order, our system automatically sends an email to our customer asking them to review the product they received and the service we provided. Once in awhile our review link doesn’t work and our customer writes us directly. It seems that when this happens, our customers shower us with compliments. Being human we wanted to share two of these wonderful emails with you.

From Brenda Robbins:

Camel with Rug Outdoor

Camel with Rug Outdoor

I clicked on the “review me” link but couldn’t understand what to do after it opened, so I will give my review in the form of this email.

The camels exceeded all my expectations, being even more beautiful than the lovely picture online. The quality, colors and detailing are amazing. We purchased all the other Nativity figures last year and were delighted with the beautiful display. I know the addition of our camels will make it even more spectacular this year. What a beautiful way to share the miracle of Jesus’ birth!

I worked with Don Henderson in putting together my Nativity and found him to be incredibly helpful and professional. He was patient and thorough in answering all my questions and dealing with my somewhat exuberant personality. He dispelled all the stereotypes about New Yorkers’ not being warm and friendly and made a convert of this Texas “gal”.

Brenda G. Robbins.

Brenda is very sweet, but shy, so she declined to provide a picture. Instead we are showing the Nativity Camel she purchased and wrote about!


From Milt Westmoreland:

milt-westmorland

Milt Westmoreland

Don,

I was unable to use the enclosed links to praise your product, but I did want to express my gratitude for my beautiful nativity.

When I was a little boy, I always wanted one of those plastic lighted nativities, but my parents would never buy one because we lived so far off the road that no one would see it. I have always wanted one. I began searching for one years ago and never saw one that looked as good as yours. – they all had ugly paint, were unrealistic looking and were very expensive.

When I saw your 12 piece 54” life size nativity, I had to have it. Each piece is a sculpture in itself and the detail on them is marvelous. Their facial expressions almost make them look real.

My nativity arrived promptly (a little early) and intact. I is the most beautiful decoration I have ever owned. I have a large front yard where thousands of people pass each day. During the Christmas season, drivers-by will see this nativity as the testimony of my love for Christ.

I am keeping this purchase a secret from my family and will surprise them in early November. Surly my home will be spectacular this holiday season. I will be sure to send you pictures.

I rate this product 5 stars PLUS!!!

God bless you all!!


An Updated Version of The Santa Sleigh and Reindeer Story

July 9th, 2012 by mannymichaels

Originally Santa’s Sleigh had eight reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.  This was according to the 1823 poem by Clement C. Moore “a Visit from St. Nicholas” or “The Night before Christmas”.  Then Rudolph (the red-nosed reindeer) was added.  Rudolph comes from a story originally written by Robert L. May about a foggy Christmas Eve, when Santa lost his way and Rudolph helped find the way with his red lighted nose.

Here is our own version of a modern Santa, Sleigh and Reindeer Story:

There are so many good Children around the world today, that there is no way Santa and his nine Reindeer can reach them all on Christmas eve. So Santa Claus sent the elves to university to learn how to build aircraft. When the elves returned to the North Pole the first thing they did was build an amazing aircraft factory beside the Toy Factory. Here they developed a huge hypersonic jet, which they called Santajet X-12-25 which flies faster than the speed of sound. This jet can hold 500 reindeer, 55 Sleighs and Santas. And there’s provision for a extra deck in case there are more good children in further years who will want Santa to deliver them gifts on Christmas Eve.

While the elves were building the Santajet X-12-25, Santa travelled around the world interviewing men to become junior Santas. He recruited 60 junior Santas. They spent several years training with Santa and now 55 of them are ready to become full-fledged Santas.

Santa also started a reindeer breeding program. And now there is Dasher 1, Dasher 2, Dancer 1, Dancer 2 , Dancer 3 and so on – 500 reindeer in all to pull 55 sleds next Christmas. And all of this was happening while a team of Elves built 55 new Sleighs.

Next Christmas there will be 55 Santa Sleigh teams travelling in the Santajet X-12-25.  Each Santa Sleigh and Reindeer team will disembark the Santajet in a different part of the world and deliver gifts to all of the children, who have been good, in that region on Christmas Eve.

So be prepared, Children, for a modern Santa delivery process. You will have to send your Christmas toy list to a special email address at the North Pole. All children who are good this year will receive the email address via email to theirs or their family’s computer. If you’re a kid without a computer in your family you can go to the library and use a computer there. If you’ve been a naughty kid, it may not be too late to be good – but you’ll have to work very had at it.

Note: This is fiction, everything in this story is from the imagination of our writers and not to be taken literally. It is not meant to change anything about all the Santa Sleigh and Reindeer stories that came before our story.

Pictures of Us at Christmas Night/Saint Francis Garden

June 14th, 2012 by blogadmin
Don at his desk working on an order

Don at his desk working on an order

A picture is worth a thousand words and the social media are proving it. This is a slow sales period for us but we are very busy unloading containers and photographing new items and adding them to our websites. We thought you might want  to see some of us working and give you some idea of how our business functions. We have included images from both our Christmas Night and Saint Francis Garden websites.

Claire in our photography studio, setting up lighting while watched over by the Nutcracker King with Scepter. soon to have his picture taken.

Claire in our photography studio, setting up lighting while watched over by the Nutcracker King with Scepter. soon to have his picture taken.

Codi and the boxer together

Codi and the boxer together

Eddie, Our warehouse manager, making sure that the Nutcracker King is positioned correctly

Eddie, Our warehouse manager, making sure that the Nutcracker King is positioned correctly

Our dog Codi doing what dogs do, checking out the new Boxer before Claire photographs him for our Saint Francis Garden website

Our dog Codi doing what dogs do, checking out the new Boxer before Claire photographs him for our Saint Francis Garden website

Our new warehouse employee, Josh, repacking the Great Dane after photography

Our new warehouse employee, Josh, repacking the Great Dane after photography

As you can see we have a lot of fun with our inanimate friends.

The Five Things Our Customers Want (We Hope)

April 5th, 2012 by blogadmin

As a direct marketing business, selling mostly to consumers, we are constantly trying to identify and focus on what will please our customers and keep them coming back. The solid foundation for this effort is our set of values. This can be summarized quite simply as the paraphrased  biblical “Golden Rule” Treat Others as You Would Like to Be Treated. Of course if we didn’t plan, organize and manage for profit we wouldn’t be around to please our customers. Here are the five things we do that we hope  please our customers and keep them coming back.

1. Offer Christmas Products They Can’t Find Elsewhere. This  is easier to do for Christmas Night  because we maintain a sharp focus on large Christmas figures, primarily for outdoor. That means no tree baubles nor tree skirts  and no trees either. Just Life Size Nativities, Nutcrackers, Toy Soldiers, Reindeer and other large figures associated with the celebration of Christmas.

2. Provide Superior Customer Service. I answered a customer call the other day and was happy to take an order for 27″ Nativity Set. When  I asked the customer (as I usually do ) how he found us, he said we were number two on the Google page but we answered our phone and helped him, which the number one ranked  store did not. The term “superior customer service”is a cliche  these days as so many companies claim to offer it. Few companies follow all the way through as we do, even after delivery.

3. Offer Good Value. We don’t always have the lowest prices on our products, we offer free shipping on a limited number of products and we rarely  discount our  product prices. Nevertheless, the product reviews and customer comments seem to confirm that we provide good value. The items which arrive broken are replaced as soon as possible and defective items are repaired or replaced.

4.Maintain High Quality. We have replaced several suppliers who have let their product quality slip, we spot check our incoming shipments and we  constantly work with our factories to improve molding and painting.

5. Make Our Products Easy to Find Online. How many times have you entered a key word or phrase online and the search engine takes you to a website which offers nothing even close to what you want, but owes its prominent  position to search engine tricks. With us, when you have taken the trouble to define exactly what you want, that’s what you get. No “bait and switch”

So there you have it, an opinionated list of what we see as our strengths. Perhaps you don’t agree and think we are off base or blowing smoke. Please tell us. We really do want your feedback