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.