How To Set Up A Christmas Village Display

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A beautifully laid-out miniature holiday village, filled with lighted buildings, miniature people, trees and scenery, is charming and almost impossible to pass by without stopping to admire. If you only have a few buildings, you could simply set your little village on a shelf and be done. If you’ve been working on your collection for years and have many pieces, you’ll need some creativity to properly display your hard work for everyone to admire.

The most popular manufacturer of holiday villages is Department 56, which has numerous village themes, and hundreds of available pieces. Lemax is another very popular manufacturer with many different villages. You don’t have to stay with the same theme, or even the same manufacturer however, but it will look better if the styles are complementary, and you definitely want to stick with the same size.

What Does Your Christmas Village Need?

  • Buildings: Your village needs a variety of buildings. Include houses and businesses such as:
    • School
    • Post office
    • Shops
    • Bank
    • Bakery
  • People: Your village needs miniature people shopping, playing, caroling, sitting and enjoying the view, working and doing all the things real people do.
  • Trees and Bushes: You can find a wide assortment of trees and plants wherever villages are sold, or check your local hobby shop for scenery used by model train enthusiasts. Larger landscape bases are also available.
  • To make your own landscape, use craft moss, faux snow, a white sheet or colored felt to create ground for your village.
  • Animals: Liven up your village with cats and dogs, birds, raccoons or deer. Many holiday villages are set in Victorian times, so horses pulling carriages are a common accessory.
  • Extras: Little extras add realism to the scene. Lights, park benches, flagpoles, wishing wells and mailboxes are just a few of the accessories you can find.

How Can You Display Your Village?

  • You need a table, countertop, shelf or hutch to serve as the base for your display. If your collection is large, but your space is limited, expand vertically by using a small bookcase or shelving unit to show off your village.
  • Now, create some varying heights and terracing to better display a large village. You can do this simply by placing a few small bowls or stacks of books under your sheet/felt/snow to give the appearance of hills. These are good spots for placing cabins, trees, forest animals, or Santa’s workshop.
  • If you have a working train in your collection, decide where the tracks will run. Set them in place, making sure you leave enough room for your buildings.
  • Position your buildings next. Add interest by creating a main street with buildings facing each other, rather than rigidly arranging all the buildings to face forward. You can also place some at an angle, and create smaller streets and groupings.
  • Now set up your trees. Plant taller ones near taller buildings, and line your streets with smaller trees or bushes. Create a woodland backdrop, or frame the back of your display with the tallest trees. You can use small sticks or twigs from your yard as bare trees, or small clumps of moss to make bushes. Use the glass from a mirror as a little pond for ice skaters to enjoy.
  • Set your people in scenarios that look natural and varied. You don’t want a line of people all facing the same direction, or in the same area. Let shoppers head out of doorways, mothers watch playing children, ice skaters enjoy a frozen lake, and a couple kiss under a shared umbrella. If your miniature people keep falling over, use a tiny piece of double-sided tape to keep them steady.
  • Add in your finishing touches. Lights, small accessories, additional animals or trees and other details can fill in gaps or complete scenarios.

Have fun with your holiday village. It’s your own little world to design as you like, and rearrange as you see fit. Set your pieces out so they are easy to admire, but not rigidly lined up, and let a natural flow guide your positioning of the buildings, people and trees. Once everything is in position and plugged in, light up your village and turn off the room lights so you can admire the scene, and imagine yourself walking through the miniature holiday world.

Last Updated: December 13, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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