It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
Black Friday, as many people rush out early for door-busters, I continue my time honored tradition of setting up my North Pole & Disney Christmas Village.
It takes an entire day. This year I started at 9AM, and worked on it until 10PM, with a few brief interruptions. It takes a lot of time, but setting up the display is something I absolutely love doing.
It’s really challenging to photograph a village display in a way that allows the glow to show without the colors being too dark. In my opinion, the flash ruins the beauty. So, here in gallery form, is the entire village above my kitchen cabinets, at night, with no flash, from left to right. Plus, it starts with one panoramic view. Enjoy!
I put a tremedous amount of thought into my houses. If you’re interested in my process, read on:
My village consists primarily of the Department 56 North Pole Collection. I’ve mentioned my parents started me on the village. If you want to read about this, click here, here, and here. I have Disney houses from Mickey’s Christmas Village, also produced by Department 56, mixed in.
This year, I allowed my village to go double-decker and take over the entire top of my kitchen cabinets. I purchased 3 shelves from Menards to add height, and also to allow me to display all 57(!) of my lit houses. This new design allowed me to feature all of the Disney houses, together, on one side of the U shape.
On another shelf, the “main” shelf that you can primarily see from the living room, I feature the classics. I started with the North Pole Palace, featuring Mr. and Mrs. Claus, The Elf Bunkhouse, Sleigh and 8 Tiny Reindeer, the Reindeer Barn, Rudolph’s Reindeer Stable featuring Rudolph and Clarice from the classic Rankin/Bass stop-motion cartoon, and Santa’s lookout tower. Those 5 lit houses and accessories seemed appropriate to feature on the main shelf. *Those of you with a keen eye may notice the two visitors next to the tower. They don’t match the wardrobe of the rest of the North Pole. When my grandmother passed away I took that little accessory from her hodge-podge village collection, and now it brings me comfort to think that my grandparents are watching over me, especially at Christmas. Is it silly, yes, but I just don’t care. I’m a sentimental man.*
Beneath the main shelf are other North pole “must haves” Santa’s Rooming House, The Hall of Records, The Glass Ornament Factory, The Weather Observatory, The Elfin Forge & Assembly Shop, and of course, the classic North Pole gate.
I’m incredibly proud of my collection. Others may think it’s silly or childish, but to me, it feels incredibly rewarding. It does take an immense amount of money (I’ve collected for YEARS), time, effort, and planning, but the reward is immeasurable. The warm glow of my village can be seen from my living room, and from outside my main window for the random passerby.
I’ve included some other photos because I just couldn’t help myself:
At top left, Mr. and Mrs. Claus greet visitors. Top right, Santa checks his list in front of the Hall of Records. Middle right are two of my very favorite Mickey pieces. The first came from my parents and was my very first Department 56 house.
Bottom left shows the awesome glow the bubble light factory leaves on the ceiling. Bottom left center are two pieces from the Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Next is a beautiful winter scene with some classics, and the last, at bottom right, is the classic North Pole Gate with Mickey and Minnie in their Christmas best welcoming you to this magical land.
I could show hundreds of photos, but you get the idea. I’ve featured the best I could.
As I said, the display takes an entire day. Yes, it can be overwhelming. But, the important thing is to go in steps. You have to go slowly, and plan your way.
The first thing I do is clear the space where the houses are going. Then, I open each house and ready them.
Then, I started with some of my risers for the scenes.
After I am ready to get started, I place each house in it’s future home. I also add in random Christmas boxes and cookie tins for risers.
As you can see, it doesn’t start out looking beautiful. But, you start placing houses and setting the “story.” I move them around, create collections, clusters, and then I move one again, and again, and again. If someone watched me, they’d think I was insane, but I want the “story” to be just right. It’s fun to pretend.
Then, you start plugging in each house. Yes, cords will be everywhere. Yes, it can be daunting, but just go with it. Luckily, a friend gave me a 20-bulb strand, and I had a couple of 6 bulb strands. But, I had to use many, many single lightbulbs. That’s a lot of plugs! But, once they are all in place and the lights are working, you just cover everything with batting to make it look like snow. Batting fixes everything! My hubbie set it up with a TP-Link Kasa Wi-Fi enabled outlet, so I can control the entire power strip from my phone, or through voice command on Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Isn’t technology great?! No need to get up and down from the cabinets to turn on a power strip.
Once the batting is in place and all cords are hidden, I place my people and my trees. Most of my people/accessories have logical places, but some are more generic and I place them wherever works in my mind, and on my canvas. I use the trees to add height, dimension, and color. I have a variety of types, from inexpensive bottle brush style, to cold cast ceramic and hand painted. I even use some non-Department 56 trees, like some glass ones Jim picked up for me at Costco years ago. And I have 3 flat silhouette style cutouts of winter trees with glittery snow on them that I put at the back of each shelf. The variety adds a level of realness to the village.
It’s hard to believe it sounds so simple that it only takes a couple of paragraphs to explain. But, yes, I started at 9AM and put the finishing touches on at 10PM. Here’s the final product one more time:
Do you collect a village? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below!