Make Your Own Christmas Village
Updated: Apr 27, 2021
I am a person that loves miniature things. I also love Christmas. So naturally I'm someone who loves miniature Christmas villages. 🎄 🏡 🌟 ❄️ ☃️
For me, in part, you can trace it back to having a miniature train set when my family lived in Europe some years ago. I still have some of the small scale plastic houses that we built from models that sat beside the tracks to create the towns that the trains went winding through. Perhaps even more significantly though I love to collect unusual little plastic figures and trees and knickknacks from flea markets and antique stores. A great place for doing this is the big market on the northern side of Paris, but any "junk" or antique store is likely to have fun vintage finds. Etsy and eBay are great sources too for funky junky little Made in Hong Kong trinkets, which are one of my main fave things to collect.
One day about a decade ago I realized I had the makings of a Christmas village. I cleared off the back of my upright piano at my apartment in New York City and laid a couple of white cloth dinner napkins down. Voilà: a field of snow! I added a string of LED lights that wound through the array of miniature houses and plastic figures and other doodads and an annual tradition was born. I've added a lot of details and new funky junkies and some terrain ("mountains" and the like, made out of styrofoam) but my "village" is still pretty much what you see is what you get, just the way it began.
Here's a detail of one of the aforementioned "mountains". You can see it's a great opportunity to really fly your crazy collector flag and put your zany collection of found objets on display.
Rule number one for me: Don't worry if the scale of things is out of whack. I have an Our Lady of Lourdes figure from the Paris market that towers like Godzilla over itty bitty plastic red-roofed houses, and a rather strange-looking baby doll that is taller than the roofline of my 1950's Glolite illuminated plastic church. Any and all comers are welcome to join the party!
Rule number two: if you're adding height, or terrain, you can use almost anything to create hills and mountains. I tried chicken wire netting for a year or two before settling on various shapes of styrofoam from Michael's that I cover with a glittery snow blanket batting type material. You can even get snow blankets with LED lights built in, though I haven't tried them because they look too lumpy and bumpy for my smalls to sit properly and flatly on.
I use snowy-looking pearl-headed straight pins to help hold things in place—another reason the styrofoam is a great material for the mountains, the pins stick in and hold perfectly.
I also rig up, with a heavy gauge wire and monofilament illusion cord, a "snowfall" over the village that gives it a festive added dimension. The plastic snowflakes in different sizes come from Michael's and the wire rigging is just something I've taught myself to do through trial and error, hanging off the framed pictures on the wall.
There is no one way make a miniature Christmas village. The beauty of them is they can be whatever you want them to be. I am here more to inspire and encourage rather than provide an exhaustive how-to, but here are some more links to generally recognized sources that might prove useful.
Information on the origins of the Christmas village from Wikipedia here.
If you are interested in entering the big leagues, there's one word for you: Lemax. Here's where you get brand new collectible houses. Also available on Amazon. You may need to mortgage your real house to afford some of these.
Here's one example of a Lemax-palooza type village.
The family who puts this baby up each year is obviously in it to win it.
Below is a look and feel you could aspire to if you want to be a bit more consistent in terms of relative size, color, and materials. Search "Putz houses" and trees on Amazon or eBay to get started with this type of charming look.
Get creative with your surfaces. Go all "shelf-y" with something like this.
Below is a close-up of my "northern" mountain! I'm especially proud this year of my 'new' plastic set of tiny People of Many Lands—an astonishing Etsy find. You can see some of them in the first mountain shot at the beginning of this article and also in this shot, both ringing the second tier of the mountain. They date probably from the late 1940's when Thailand briefly went back to being called Siam. The castle at top dates back to the table train set in The Hague I mentioned at the start.
However you do your village, most of all, be creative, and have fun!
For me, it's still all about the back of my trusty upright piano.