The first Christmas villages were small Nativity scenes, and the ones you see today can be pretty extensive, with new village pieces added from year to year. The holiday wouldn't be the same for many collectors without the annual arranging of their Christmas town sets. Others who want to get into this rewarding hobby can likely use some pointers to set up for the first time.
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Setting Up Christmas Town Sets
The cost of Christmas village pieces can add up, but you can save money on your base. You can buy 4- by 8-foot white foam sheets from a home improvement store to glue on top of a piece of plywood. The sheets are sold in the lumber section and are used for insulation. Place them on the bottom of your scene, cut out small pieces and stack them. Cover those with white batting or white felt and you will have snow-covered mountains.
For sidewalks and roads, visit a craft store or go online to shop for foam core boards. The white ones can be your sidewalks, and the black ones resemble asphalt. You can also use acrylic paint on foam core to make the pieces look like cobblestone streets. For tiny Christmas trees, wrap together pieces of flower arrangement wire; these will be bare, though.
When choosing a location for your Christmas village, make sure there is enough room for all the pieces so you won't have to crowd them. You might want to lay out all the pieces ahead of time to make sure of this. The village should also be close to an electrical outlet if any homes need to be plugged in.
Arranging the Village Pieces and Accessories
Christmas villages can be whatever size you want. Some have trains, while others do not. You can arrange the scene on a windowsill; this can look very nice up against a window. Companies like Lemax and Department 56 Village Series sell village pieces, but there are others as well. You will also need figurines; greenery, like bushes and trees; and other pieces, like miniature light posts. Interactive features, water features and timers are optional.
You can use cotton batting and Styrofoam or pillow snow on top of the plywood with dusting snow added on top to your preference. Many people place their Christmas villages at the bottom of their tree, which can look great if you have a train running around it. To do this, know where the outlets are located and set the train first on top of the base.
More Tips on Village Piece Placement
Place the largest buildings and landscapes first. Then, stand back and see how you like them. Do not crowd the pieces together, especially if they look the same.
For example, if you have two trees that appear exactly alike, they could go next to each other, but that might not look as natural as splitting them up. Homes can go close to one another but try to spread things out to look more like an authentic village. Place the smaller items last, making everything look as natural as you can. Remember that placing and rearranging the pieces is the best part of setting up these villages.