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Luke 2:8-20

...or, to be honest, almost any Christmas-related Bible passage. We at St James Muswell Hill actually managed to get two uses out of this visual aid, and as it was constructed using bits of Mega Maker, that means it was twice-recycled within only two days.

Anyway, in the Christmas Day talk, Chris Green our vicar spoke about the best Christmas present of all. Obviously it was inside this box, and it turned out to be ... an Easter egg!

The point was that Jesus was born not just to be a tiny baby announced by angels, but to grow up and live, and then to die on the cross and rise again from the dead. And in this way we are saved from our sins and reconciled with God our Father for eternity.

You can hear the talk on St James's web site.

The previous day, at the (second) Christmas Eve crib service, all the characters in the drama emerged from the present. This is why it has a door on one side and a fold-down flap on the other.

I believe the drama was written by Scripture Union, but I could be wrong. It involved a group of children "discovering" this huge present and looking inside to find out the true meaning of Christmas. The characters that emerged initially had a peripheral connection with Christmas (shoppers), then we had a postman, then sheep and shepherds and angels and finally Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Each was heralded by a few appropriate bars of music.

Again you can hear the drama, and Chris's talk which followed it, on St James's web site.

Making the present

Well, it really is simpler if you start with a Mega Maker first. In the unlikely event that you don't have an old Mega Maker in your loft, this is what you need:

  • 8 pieces of MDF, each 1200mm x 600mm x 3mm thick.
  • 12 pieces of wood, each 1200mm long x 44mm x 20mm (planed size), plus a few little bits.
  • Six hinges.
  • Several small metal brackets.
  • Lots of screws.
  • Red emulsion paint.
  • Gold spray paint.
  • A bit of cardboard for a stencil.
  • Some gold paper. I used Fadeless Art Paper but gold wrapping paper would do.
  • Some coloured lights. I used battery-powered lights so there were no trailing mains leads.
  • Sticky tape.

It wasn't terribly difficult to make a box using bits of wood and pieces of MDF. I just screwed the wood to the edges of the MDF - the wood stiffened the panels and joined one piece to another. Because I was using an old Mega Maker, I put the painted sides inside the present. If they ever need to be a Mega Maker again I won't need to do a lot of repainting.

Sometimes (eg around the frame on the back of the present) I joined the bits of wood with metal brackets.

There was no MDF on the back of the present - it was open so the characters in the drama could walk through. On the right hand side there was a door so it needs some hinges. I fixed small bits of wood to the MDF and screwed the hinges to the wood - the MDF was too thin to screw the hinges to directly.

On the left hand side more hinges were used to allow the side to fold down, as in the diagram. Actually this still left a fixed panel 600mm high and the children needed steps to climb over it. Perhaps a second door would have been better.

The MDF needed to be painted with "difficult surfaces primer" because it is very porous. Then I painted it red with emulsion paint. I cut out a star template from a bit of cardboard and sprayed on some stars.

The whole thing was dismantled and taken to church in my VW Beetle (you do have a VW Beetle, don't you?) After I put it back together, I added a gold paper ribbon and some coloured lights. I attached the lights with red sticky tape (electrical tape) so it didn't show.


Present from one side
The giant present. It's the one at the back.

Giant present from the other side
The giant present, from the other side, with the lights switched on.


Door and flaps
How the door and the flaps work.

star template
Cardboard template for the spray-painted stars. That's our study carpet behind the template. Please do not spray the carpet or we will both be in trouble.


Desert island church by John Parker. Contact me via the about page. Text and images copyright © 2014 John Parker www.desertislandchurch.co.uk.