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Christmas Village Displays

Updated on February 3, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Christmas village displays are a beautiful addition to any holiday home. They are often placed beneath the Christmas tree but can be placed on mantles, countertops, and other areas. Small vignettes can be created on side tables or other surfaces around the house to add the charm and wonder of Christmas to any room. Some families have a large display and then several vignettes in unexpected places. How you decorate with them is up to you. 

The Christmas village tradition was brought into my life by my husband whose family did this every year. It has been a tradition for me to buy him a new piece for "his" village each Christmas. Generally I try to get something that represents the year that is passing. The special piece was a recruiter's office the year our son joined the Air Force. 

In this way the size of our village has built up until it is huge. Our children and grandchildren look forward to seeing it every year. 

Christmas at our house.  (c)marye Audet 2008
Christmas at our house. (c)marye Audet 2008

The History of Christmas Village Displays

Christmas village displays are a wonderful tradition that began with the Moravian tradition of putting a Nativity set or Putz beneath the tree. Over time the Nativity scenes became more and more elaborate and by the late 1700s could be found on mantles and china cabinets as well as under trees.

As the trend caught on people would spread straw, dirt, pebbles, and other items to make the scene look more and more realistic. The scenes started to contain other Bible stories like Noah's Ark. Craftsmen would carve animal figures, sometimes hundreds, to be placed near the Ark scenes.

By the mid 1800s these scenes were becoming more popular, more elaborate, and more secular. People, houses, stores, and other scenes common to daily life were often used. During Victorian times the villages were often given more honor than the tree. People sent hours setting everything up just right every year. By the early part of the 1900s toy trains were added to these small, bustling, cities.

Japan began mass producing inexpensive cardboard houses and other buildings after World War II. These buildings had holes cut into them so that Christmas lights could be inserted to make them look more real. Cellophane was used for windows. Now nearly anyone could afford these houses that flooded the market and they became more popular than ever.

In the early 1970s Department 56 and other companies began creating these village pieces in porcelain and ceramic. They were even more popular than the cardboard homes had been and collectors flocked to stores to buy them. Every year they retired some pieces and introduced new ones to keep the items collectible. Today these collectible Christmas houses can go for hundreds of dollars when they are in good condition.

Slideshow:Christmas Village Pieces

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Love A Christmas Story? Then you need Ralphie's House! From Dept. 56.  *Note, all images in the slideshow are available in the amazon links below.Watchmaker's Shop from the DIcken's Village Colelction.Animated skating pond.HArdware Store from Christmas in the City.This is a limited edition from the landmark series, and there is only ONE available. :)Pine Creek Hunting LodgeFranky's Hot DogsWest Lott Chapel from the Dicken's Village CollectionsLike Father Like SonLet's get out of the wind.
Love A Christmas Story? Then you need Ralphie's House! From Dept. 56.  *Note, all images in the slideshow are available in the amazon links below.
Love A Christmas Story? Then you need Ralphie's House! From Dept. 56. *Note, all images in the slideshow are available in the amazon links below.
Watchmaker's Shop from the DIcken's Village Colelction.
Watchmaker's Shop from the DIcken's Village Colelction.
Animated skating pond.
Animated skating pond.
HArdware Store from Christmas in the City.
HArdware Store from Christmas in the City.
This is a limited edition from the landmark series, and there is only ONE available. :)
This is a limited edition from the landmark series, and there is only ONE available. :)
Pine Creek Hunting Lodge
Pine Creek Hunting Lodge
Franky's Hot Dogs
Franky's Hot Dogs
West Lott Chapel from the Dicken's Village Collections
West Lott Chapel from the Dicken's Village Collections
Like Father Like Son
Like Father Like Son
Let's get out of the wind.
Let's get out of the wind.

Collecting Antique Houses

You can often find these antique houses made of cardboard on eBay and once in a while you will find the very old hand carved items from the earlier centuries.  Prices at Christmas time are understandably more than at other times of the year so if you want to start collecting these items try to wait until January!


Even so the prices can be reasonable.  The vintage cardboard houses from the late 1940s and 1950s can often be found for 25.00 or less, while hand made fences and accessories form earlier times tend to start at around 50.00.  As always ask lots of questions and be sure that you understand the seller's return policies.  Check feedback and see what others say about the seller and his items. 

It is also gorgeous at night. (c) Marye Audet 2008
It is also gorgeous at night. (c) Marye Audet 2008

Everyone has to start somewhere.  Just choose a few pieces every year and soon you will have a huge display that the neighbors oooh and ahhh over every year.  Store the houses in the original boxes, tagged with the dae you bought them for easy identification.

Most of all, have fun! 

Your Christmas Village

Do You Collect Christmas Village Pieces?

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    • Marion Drury profile image

      Marion Drury 

      5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Love this article and plan to start collecting myself. The more 'Christmassy' the better!

    • profile image

      El M 

      6 years ago

      Love your presentation! My mother-in-law gave me several houses in the "New England Village Series" over the years. My boys and I look forward to setting them up each Christmas. Would you happen to know a good place to purchase bulbs. Our Home Depot and Loews do not seem to carry them. Thanks for your help. Merry Christmas!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice ideas for Christmas!

    • profile image

      emmanuel phillips 

      6 years ago

      i love christmas village i wish i could make one for my self

    • Nikki D. Felder profile image

      Nikki D. Felder 

      6 years ago from Castle Hayne, N.C.

      Outside of Charlotte, N.C. exists a Christmas village where all the residents take part and folk travel through there all season long. Your post reminded me of that fond memory! Nikki D. Felder

    • thewahm profile image


      6 years ago

      How beautiful! Every year my wife asks to purchase pieces to create a village and we have yet to do it. Maybe this year. Great hub!

    • profile image

      Dazzling Image 

      7 years ago

      I love the Christmas Villages collection and the way the tree is decorated. Very warmth feel, just the right mood for Christmas celebrations. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      Not too late to build one Christmas Village! I want our lawn worked out this year. I never thought of this before. Very inspiring. So every year, I've got something to work out for. Nice suggestions. Thanks!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice hub! I love Christmas villages and the displays are so cute.

    • profile image

      christmas train sets 

      7 years ago

      I love Ralphie's house. It even has the leg lamp in the window. Thank you so much.

    • readytoescape profile image


      7 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, someone else has the same type of Christmas tradition, at least one new addition per year. I was kind of surprised to read the description of the village as “his” rather than mine or ours, given my possibly limited point of view, (perhaps better understood in my hub on the subject) but good for him, I think it is quite admirable, and significant that traditions are perpetuated for our children and our children’s children.

      In our home, the Village Constable’s honors are garnered to my wife, she gets the accolades, while I get to perform all the work, but I must admit, ain’t Christmas fun!

      I’d love to see some more pictures. I really enjoyed reading your hub I found it searching for design ideas, and yes I have already been issued orders for this year’s “construction" as soon as all the Halloween stuff is disassembled. My wife is nuts for that too.

    • RoseGardenAdvice profile image


      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Beautiful photos and nice descriptions - especially liked the history section. Well-written...thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      My grandmother had a huge display in her bay window (her home was an old Victorian Gingerbread house, lived in by the Pillsbury family at one time!). When we visited her, seeing that display was the highlight of my visit. I have a few of her pieces and some of my own so I carry on the tradition. Your pieces and ideas are wonderful! I am looking into a display this year not bothered by our kitties, LOL! Thank you!

    • Info Help profile image

      Info Help 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      these photos of the village are fantastic! My husband also loves the christmas village pieces as well. We have a decent sized village as we have been collecting pieces each season to add on to what he already owns. Keep up the great writing!

    • nikki1 profile image


      8 years ago

      awesome pic.s. Great hub.

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Love your hub and pictures! Good job!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice !

      Check out my 4 YouTube videos under my name with some interesting ideas you might want to try!

      Cheers, Lemaxnut

    • simplyjo profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice :) I also have some interesting Christmas hubs. Do check them out.

    • skye2day profile image


      9 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Love yout Christmas villages. Beautiful. I will return

      Check my hubs home remedies a2z I need fans please comment

      Love, Patti

    • eovery profile image


      9 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Beautiful hub.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice picture

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      That's terrific-beautiful display. Merry Christmas !!

    • deccasandy profile image


      9 years ago from Belmont


    • banone profile image


      9 years ago

      That is a great Set-up. I love the Pictures!!

    • Dona Rosa profile image

      Dona Rosa 

      9 years ago from Tennessee

      Beautiful! My mom used to give me one store or building of an entire set each Christmas, until I had the entire city over many years. Neat idea for others!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh my goodness! I love your Christmas village! Just want one like yours!!!!

    • profile image

      ram meena 

      9 years ago

      very nice.happy and joy full chritmas

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      9 years ago from NW Indiana

      I could cry just looking at this hub about this tradition of collecting villages for Christmas. You did a great job. C.S.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Your display is just beautiful. My husband loves to collect the village pieces.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Christmas is fast approaching. It's nice to feel the season again:-)

    • kopitozie profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank's a lot for sharing

    • hibiscus_mel profile image


      9 years ago from Marlton, New Jersey

      It's so pretty and festive! I wish I had one too.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love your page, I think all the pictures are beautiful..

    • denisewrtr37 profile image


      9 years ago from Philadelphia

      I almost bought another village display when I was in WalMart this weekend. I think they're cute and ad a nice holiday "feel" to a home.

    • Candace Morgan profile image

      Candace Morgan 

      9 years ago from New York

      Great work!

    • J_Eds profile image


      9 years ago from Blackpool

      That tree looks GOREGOUS!

    • Scottie JD profile image

      Scottie JD 

      9 years ago

      Charming piece, and lovely photos. Thanks


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