The tradition of the Christmas village has been around for hundreds of years. This festive practice began in Europe, but eventually made its way to the United States and became wildly popular. Just about anyone can picture the typical Christmas village: lights, trees, and figurines next to cottage-like homes.
In fact, Christmas villages seem to have gotten stuck in a cookie-cutter layout and style, so most people may not know the many ways that one can personalize their own village. There are options for those that want to splurge on a cool theme. Those on a budget can also make unique and beautiful towns without spending hundreds of dollars. And for those who feel that the sets and supplies on the market don’t fit their particular tastes, there are even more ways to make a one-of-a-kind village to fit any interest.
Christmas Village Themes
Some people may love that classic Christmas village look of brick homes, a local church and anonymous shops, which is just fine. After all, that style has hundreds of years of history behind it, making it special in its own right. And there is something magical and nostalgic about fostering that classic look. However, if this doesn’t work for some people’s personal tastes, there are plenty of other options.
While browsing the lower level of the massive Macy’s in San Francisco’s Union Square, I stumbled upon a collection of Charles Dickens Christmas village sets. I was immediately enamored, finding shops and locations from the beloved “A Christmas Carol.” One can find a set including the infamous Ebeneezer Scrooge’s home, as well as a scene of Scrooge visiting the cemetery with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
Since there are only a few “A Christmas Carol”-themed pieces available at this time, it would be interesting to mix these sets with the other Charles Dickens-themed buildings and accessories available. Overall, combining these pieces will create a beautiful, Victorian-style Christmas village. One of the more fun pieces is a replica of one of the famous Oxford domes, which would make a stunning and unique centerpiece for anyone’s village.
If the Charles Dickens or English village style isn’t for you, there are still more themes to explore, like the Harry Potter winter sets. One of the most fascinating pieces available is an electric Hogwarts train that lights up and moves. You can also find Hagrid’s home, The Three Broomsticks pub, the Hogwarts astronomy tower and numerous other beloved pieces.
There is also a wealth of accessory pieces, many of which are iconic characters and scenes from the movies and books. Village builders can find Voldemort, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville and others in the middle of well-known moments. Amazon and Department 56 will have the most options, so it’s ideal to check between these two sites for the village sets. Pairing your Harry Potter-themed Christmas village with some trees, fake snow and fairy lights will make for the most magical miniature town to stun your guests during the holidays.
LEGO also has many building sets that are Christmas village themed. This option is particularly interactive and immersive and makes for a great holiday activity for families and children. Some cool builds include an elf club house, a Santa set, Santa’s sleigh and a gingerbread house. The LEGO route is also a good choice because there are subthemes available within the LEGO village theme; for example, people can purchase the “Home Alone” set for their town.
More amazing Christmas village themes are the Disney sets that have emerged. Once again, Amazon and Department 56 are likely your best bets for online shopping; Amazon in particular has the most options for Disney pieces. Customers can find Elsa’s frozen palace, the beloved Disney castle, Mickey’s and Minnie’s homes, the Pin Traders shop and more. People can also collect the most cherished characters from the Disney universe, such as Cheshire Cat, Tinkerbell, Jack and Sally, Mickey and Minnie, Lilo and Stitch or Eeyore and Winnie the Pooh.
As a disclaimer, some of these characters are technically salt and pepper sets, but they can totally work within the Disney Christmas village setting. This is a good example of getting creative and using slightly unconventional items within your village to broaden the possibilities of the world you build. When looking for Disney figurines for your town, you may notice that items like the salt and pepper shaker figurines are usually cheaper than the official village figurines. If you’re willing to get creative and use strategies to save some money, you can still have an awesome Christmas village.
When browsing Amazon, Department 56 or any other site, people may be surprised at the volume of Halloween-themed sets available. For example, the Disney village tab on Department 56 also contains many Halloween pieces, such as the Disneyland Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s Town Center Pumpkin, Mickey’s Pumpkintown House and more. Other themes, such as the Addams Family village sets available on Department 56, also speak to the rise of spookier, Halloween-themed towns.
On the same website, there are also captivating “Game of Thrones” sets, which could easily fit in either a Christmas village or a Halloween town. Department stores like Michaels also have a wealth of Halloween pieces during the months before Christmas sets dominate the shelves. So, if you want to experiment and go down an unusual route for the holidays or if you love Halloween more than Christmas, there are plenty of options for you too.
Alternative Village Strategies
Unfortunately, whether themed or not, Christmas villages are known to be pricey. After all, many of the buildings listed are over $100 a piece. Unless you’re someone that’s willing to drop hundreds of dollars to build your personalized village, there are other options for making one that is beautiful and one-of-a-kind on a budget.
It would behoove village-builders to check out chain thrift stores like Savers; oftentimes, people give away old village sets and pieces to these stores, and they’re available at much cheaper rates than new, name-brand sets. Check out your local Savers or other similar stores for a chance at finding a Christmas village treasure: Many of these pieces can be vintage, unique sets that nobody else will have in their homes.
As mentioned, stepping out of the conventional village-building box will save money and make room for cooler, personalized holiday towns. My family has used everything from ornaments to snow globes to accessorize our Christmas village. Santa and snowman ornaments that can stand on their feet make for excellent, much cheaper figurines for your town. Snow globes also provide a particularly magical touch — especially ones that can play music in the midst of your Christmas village.
Fake snow is another cheap accessory that will add magic to your village. Just spread the clumps of snow around on the ground to enhance the winter tones of the Christmas town. Many department stores like T.J. Maxx have an intriguing, hodgepodge mix of fake trees that will improve your Christmas village without breaking your bank account. On Amazon, you can also find reasonably priced, color-changing fairy lights that will bring your mini world to life. You can even try building gingerbread houses for your village or buying animal figurines and spreading around reindeer and polar bears to make a nature winter wonderland — the options for personalizing your Christmas village are infinite.