Winter villages are a fun way to decorate the house for Christmas. In my case, I started with a piece of furniture that begged for Christmas decorations, then slowly built up my collection. Now the collection is bigger than the display furniture, but that hasn’t slowed down my village! This year is my first to set up the village in this house, and it’s really paying off!
I’ve always had to be careful about scratching the wood with some of the houses as I move them around during set up and lighting. This year, I wanted to add the look of snow, and found a way to simultaneously protect my wood furniture! I picked up some foam insulation boards from Home Depot. It took a bit of work (mostly due to the size of my village) with a knife and box cutters, but the result is something I can keep to reuse year after year! I made a base for each shelf I used for the village. I also made a couple of basic mountain scenes by setting foam vertically. The cutting process was a bit messy, but that’s a one time event. It’s far neater than using bags of fake snow! An unexpected bonus is the sheen of the foam glistens at night when the only lights are from the village.
I used more of the foam to create hills and elevation. In the first picture, I stacked several pieces to elevate the eagle’s nest (secured with toothpicks as I added new layers, but glue would work well, too). At the lake, I elevated the buildings and gave the wolves a little ridge from which to hunt. The lake was created with blue plastic wrap from the kitchen. I crumpled it into a ball, unrolled it, then laid it out with some folds. The crumpling and folding gave the lake the look of waves, which seems more interesting than a glassy lake (which I’d expect to be frozen over in winter).
The top of my schrank (wall unit) has a curve to it over the central display area. I have plenty of room between the top of the schrank and my ceiling, so I turned one side into the sledding area. The other side is my ski slope!
I really like to collect wild animals for my village, some of which aren’t exactly common in town. As such, I set up a little forest area, where the only human is a wildlife photographer. I’d like to add some snowshoers to the scene in future years. I also plan to add some little lights on the underside of the shelf above the forest scene in order to create starlight, since there are no buildings or other sources of artificial light in my wilderness.
One of the problems with using the store-bought creek pieces (like in the forest scene) is that few bridges can actually span the water. So for my farm scene, I created my own creek. I call it Willow Creek because the barn is labeled “Willow Creek Farm”. Once again, I used the blue plastic wrap, but this time I lined the water with aquarium stones, covered with some fake snowflakes. They look somewhat frosted and icy – perfect! I saw another village recently that used a watery-looking ribbon to create a moving water effect, so that would be another good option.
Something I’ve struggle with year after year is the ice rink. It’s easy to collect a lot of ice skaters, but hard to find a big enough ice rink for them all! I didn’t feel like cutting a mirror this year, though I certainly may do that in the future. This year I found a pack of several square mirrors. I placed two side-by-side, but that didn’t realistic. So I went back to the kitchen, this time for waxed paper. Crumpling it gave it the feel of lots of grooves from ice skates (I don’t have a village zamboni, you see). I confess I got lazy by this point so I didn’t shape the mirrors. I simply surrounded it like Willow Creek in aquarium stones and fake snow. I absolutely love how it turned out! Of course it occurred to me later that with the waxed paper, I could have used aluminum foil instead of the mirrors, so I might do that next year. Foil would be a lot easier to form into a more natural shape!
I placed most of the residential houses together for a real neighborhood effect, so most of the people playing in the snow are there. One shelf is just for food-related business: there’s a cheese shop, a winery, a cooking school, and a tea room. The shelf with the farm shares space with a separate sheep farm and woolen mill. The town centre includes a church and fire station. I managed to pick up some polar bears but they don’t seem to go well in much of the rest of my village. Right now they’re near a couple of log cabin as part of an Alaska or Canada section. That will be expanded next year to include a totem pole gallery and sled dog rides headquarters. In that way, we’ll have sort of an Arctic community where the polar bears will fit in a bit better!
After all the work that went into setting this up, I wish this was less Christmas village and more all-winter-long village! Instead, I’ll have to settle for joining Pete for a brewski.