How to Build A Christmas Village Collection


“Christmas isn’t a parade or concert but a piece of home you keep in your heart wherever you go.”
Donna VanLiere, The Christmas Town

My Christmas village is up!  I really planned on putting up my first Christmas village before thanksgiving comes in.  I wanted to have it displayed for the whole holiday season way up to Chinese New Year.   Why?  Because putting up a Christmas village is no joke most specially if it happens to be very intricate and detailed.  You wanted to make setting it all up so worth your while. And that only means having it up for as long as possible.  Christmas is a long holiday to celebrate anyway, right?

The middle part of the Christmas village display

I first knew about Christmas villages from the mom of a friend from a long way back.  She said she started collecting these porcelain miniature houses eversince her kids entered college.  Since she lived in Arizona, I didn’t have a chance to see her display.  She has sadly passed and now, knowing how expensive these houses could be, I’m wondering if her family kept them or maybe it was handed out to her sons or a close relative.  I really hope they remained with her family.

About a year or two ago I also learned that my youngest sister always had this idea of putting up a christmas village at the back of her mind for some years now.  So last Christmas, I was so delighted that she finally got around to doing so.  I was happy to see her display when I visited family in Calgary.  The was the first time I got really close to inspecting these miniatures now that I’m aware of them.  The details on the structures of these miniatures, the lively, Christmas-y colors – such a delight for me to inspect them.

The idea of staging houses and these small figures like telling a story of a Christmas night in the village was something that I thought about.  I really love tinkering with small details, just like when I do cakes.  I enjoy doing detailed work.  So I decided I want to try doing this for next Christmas as an alternative to the usual Christmas trees and lights.  It looked fun.

The left side of the Christmas village

And this started my whole year of collecting.  I scoured thrift stores, initially.  I didn’t know what to look for at first and just bought what I thought would look good.  Then I started doing research and looked up youtube and facebook groups.  I also pinned some photos on pinterest.com.  These all guided me to know what to look for and what to collect.  The research gave me ideas on what accessories and miscellaneous elements I needed aside from figures and structures.

So this list isn’t about how to construct an actual display.  This is a list of tips on where and how I’ve come up with my own collection to make a display.  I hope that this will help anyone ready to dive into this wonderful hobby of collecting Christmas village miniatures.

The left end of the Christmas village display
  1.  If you plan on putting up the village in the soonest Christmas season, start collecting months or a year before.  You’d be surprised that stores are selling them all year-round. Putting up any decent collection is an investment in time and money.  That’s why starting early means you collect them a little at a time.  This also means that you don’t spend money in just one big spending.  Add to that, make sure you buy a lot of accessories – most specially miniature trees, figures, lights, pretend snow, etc.
  2. FB Marketplace is a good place to look for Christmas villages.  But make it a point to know if their prices are competitive.  When you see an item you like, ask the seller questions – what brand is it, what the name of the model is, what condition is it in.  Compare its price with the price of a brand new one of the same model.  If it came from a known manufacturer, it will be on the ‘net or the manufacturer’s website.  Do your research on how much some popular brands are selling their brand new models for.  This will be your standard on whether the seller’s price is low, reasonable enough or too high.
  3. Be aware also of Christmas village houses that are “rare” or “hard to find”.  These items might be selling for higher on the net.  I’ve once gotten a Department 56 vintage house for $4.00 at a Saver’s Thrift Store that showed up as $100 on an online store somewhere.  I always considered that my best shopping find ever.
  4. Which leads me to this.  Thrift stores are good places to look for miniatures.  I have two thrift stores near my place:  Goodwill and Saver’s.  I don’t have to tell you anymore how much I enjoy going to these places.  Looking for Christmas village figurines is one of those reasons.  You’d sometimes get them for a steal.  I usually score Department 56 and Lemax houses and figures for a fraction of their prices – from $1.00 to $5.00.   Considering that these brands sell in the range from $30 to the $100s, depending on the model.  You should always grab these when you spot them.  And you do have to visit these stores often since their stocks always get replenished.  I come in usually about twice a month just to see if they have “new” items.
  5. Thrift stores also sometimes carry other needed materials to create a snow village.  I’ve bought a couple of imitation snow covers at Saver’s on separate occasions.  Aside from
  6. trees and lights and other fixtures, snow is an important feature of your village.
  7. As for retail stores, there is a good time to buy from them.  Their Christmas village buildings and accessories usually come out a week or two before the Thanksgiving holidays.  They sometimes go on sale on Black Fridays (or Boxing Day, for Canada) and some have sales on the actual Christmas week.  For some, they do their sales after the holidays.  Be on the lookout for price drops.   These are some of the stores to watch for.  There are some more out there, that’s for sure.
    • Sears and JCPenny
    • Walmart, Kmart, Big Lots and Target
    • Home Depot and Lowe’s
    • Macy’s, Kohl’s, Menard’s and Boscov’s
    • craft stores like Michael’s, Joann’s and Hobby Lobby
    • Canadian Tire (from Canada)
    • dollar stores
  8. Let’s talk about dollar stores.  They’re a hit or miss, considering not all dollar stores sell all their inventory for just a dollar.  Sometimes, they can even be more expensive than other retail stores.  But they’re a good source for Christmas village accessories like miniature trees or battery-operated lights (which you will need a lot of to light up some spots of your displays that need illumination).
  9. Ebay is also a good source for any collector.  Altho, just like FB Marketplace, I advice diligence when bidding for items on the famous auction site.  Read descriptions closely and compare prices with shipping costs included.  Sometimes it might appear inexpensive but once shipping cost is factored in, the price suddenly doubles.  The distance between your address and the sellers address is a big factor.
  10. For online stores, there are so many out there. Aside from the websites of the retail stores above, the following are the sites that I visit often:
The extended Christmas village display in our china cabinet

The other tip I want to give is to download the Pinterest app to your phone.  Pinterest is a very helpful tool to bookmark posts/pages that you find on the internet.  I usually look up the items that I bought and “pin” them on my pinterest board.  It helps me account for all the houses, structures, accessories I’ve collected so far. For forgetful people like me, it helps to have a quick access to look up your collection when you spot items you see.  I admit that there were times I bought doubles just because I don’t have my phone with me.

The right side of the Christmas village display

I hope this gives you an idea on how to start collecting your own Christmas village collection.  So for the meantime, I leave you to view my photos and video.

Till next time, my lovies…

The once named “godmother of the Philippine Blogosphere”, Gigi Manaloto-Refugia, known by her pen name “Ate Sienna” has been blogging since 2002 in her old pansitan.net community where she housed famous bloggers.  She now writes about being 50-something and shares her tips on fashion, makeup, skincare, travel, food and thrift-store diving.

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