My first Christmas out on my own I bought a train and a tree and set it up....and it looked pitiful. But I started collecting buildings and figurines and it was only a few years before I had a Christmas Village that I was proud of and that has become a tradition in my family.
Step 1: Village Base
My board is just a standard sheet from the home improvement store, which happened to perfectly fit the space I wanted. You might need to make it smaller to fit your space.
Step 2: Village Board 2
I've cut several random holes in the board. These are for electrical chords so that the chords do not lie on top of the village and create unnecessary bumps.
I also added small feet to the board; this helps the electrical chords from being crushed. I might make the feet larger some day. But as the board is not walked on, it is only a platform for the village, it hasn't been a problem for me.
Once the board is down cover it with white felt. This is just a base layer of white for the whole village. I usually replace this layer of felt every two years. You will be walking and crawling on this felt while you decorate your tree and construct the rest of the village.
Once the board is down and covered, cut a hole in the felt at one of the holes in the board and place a power strip on the board with the cord going through the felt through the hole, under the board to a power outlet.
Step 3: The Stand
The first couple of years I had my village the stand was used for the Christmas tree, and the village sprawled out below. Lately though, the tree has been next to the stand and this has allowed me to create more interesting layouts.
Step 4: Place and Decorate Your Tree
Step 5: Laying the Track
My train is a Lionel Pennsylvania Flyer. I've added 8 sections of straight track to what comes in the standard Lionel package. This makes it fit the standard piece of plywood very well in a standard square oval.
Step 6: Placing Risers
The first year I rearranged the books 5 or 6 times before I was happy with my layout of the town. Now I generally get it right the first time because I can usually imagine it in my head correctly first. I don't change the layout every year. I'll keep the same layout for two years and then change it.
Step 7: Placing Buildings
Step 8: Cover Felt and Replacing of Buildings
Fluff the cover felt to make it look natural. Avoid hard edges. After it looks how you want it start laying the cords. Cut the cover felt and snake the lighting cords underneath to your power strip. I've switched to the multi-light cords verses the single light chords that come in with the buildings. This allows me to light more buildings with fewer outlets, and allows fewer cuts in the cover felt, but does hinder building placement as the lights are a set distance apart.
Step 9: Figurines and Finishing
Most important of these is trees. I have 4 or 5 different kinds of trees that I've collected over the years. They add variety, scale and depth to the village.
I don't think you should over do using people figurines. In my opinion the people are best when they are slightly noticed, verse jumping out at you. I use them to soften the landscape, not to populate the village.
After all your figurines are placed there is one last important step. Fake snow. The little bags of snow sold at craft stores. I resisted paying for the snow for a couple of years, and then one year I broke down and bought some. What a difference it makes!! The fake snow is like the magic you sprinkle on at the end. A thin sprinkling is all that is needed, but put it everywhere; on the buildings, on the people, trees, etc. It really seems to make the overall village look better.
I hope you've enjoyed my first instructable. I've been a fan of the site and all the wonderful things everyone posts. Merry Christmas!