It Takes A Village

I thought I might share a few tips for displaying Village collectibles this holiday season. Whether in a retail setting or home environment, there are some pretty simple things you can do to enhance the impact of this kind of holiday decor. I'm going to give a shout out to Linda & Margo at Molbaks here, because they are women who KNOW how to play up this stuff. They've each done the massive (and I do mean massive) display setups at the store for the past five years, and every year it gets better!

Remember Christopher Lowell on TLC tv? One of his taglines was 'Lifts, Levels, & Elevations'. Well, I call this the Chris Lowell tip: Get something to use as risers, and lift up some of the houses & buildings. Take the houses out of the boxes, and then use the boxes as risers - just cover them with fabric, or snow, or even wrap them in giftwrap if you want a cute look. Create hills with them, and then sit the houses on top. Put a few on the flat surface of the table or shelf to add dimension, as well.

In the setup above, a huge mirror from a client's dining table was used as the pond. The bridge sits on it, and we created a 'stream' by lining part of the mirror with rock walls and snow right over the mirror. Creates a cool effect and it really makes the light dance on the surface. And under those snowy hills in the background are cardboard boxes!

In this setup, I took a beautiful antique wood box and opened it, put a cardboard box in it, covered that with snow, then sat the conservatory building on it. This lifts the spectacular piece up and makes it the star of the show.

A closeup of the wood box as pedestal. You can also use books (old leatherbound ones are gorgeous!), small stools, plant stands, and flowerpots to add height. Be creative and match the items to the village theme!

Now, against the advice I just gave, here is a flat layout. This is a sofa table, so the village is visible from all sides. We set it up so that the houses are in two rows, with 'backyards' that are behind each. On the front sides of the houses, there are sidewalks & street, making it appear to be a block of homes in merry old England. Placing them this way eneabled us to fit more buildings into the setup, and it keeps it neat & tidy so it's not overwhelming to the eye.

This setup in the kitchen window uses a part (small part!) of the client's nutcracker collection along with the village houses. Everything has to do with food here - the nutcrackers are bakers and winemakers and such, the trees are made from gumdrop candy, the houses are a cooky shop, a candy shop, and the Rudolph & Santa village pieces. Glass cake pedestals hold some of the houses up high, and the nutcracker pedestals lift a few more way up above the scene.

Sorry it's fuzzy, but here's a closeup.

A really important tip for retail display of these items is to remember to create some SMALL setups along with the huge dioramas. Many people who love these live in small homes - condos, apartments, senior living centers - and space is a consideration. So show them how to display their villages on bookshelves, mantels, small tables, etc. in small groupings. The photos I've shared here are from a darling client who lives a in massive home. She has plenty of room to display her collections...but not everyone is in this situation.

Also, in retail, show a cross-merchandised approach in several of your displays. Incorporate photo frames, books, candles, lamps, and other decorative accessories (florals, even candy!) to show how this can be done in a home environment. You'll sell more product when you show the customer what to do with it!


  1. Dear sweet Debi,
    This is beautiful!! You are so right about the elevations....you have to have height to have interest. I love looking at your displays....they truly are works of art my dear. Missing you and my sweet friends, Tracey and Rae, xxoo, Dawn

  2. Yes, I think some people neglect the "lift" part of display, resulting in poor sightlines and... boredom. But never you! Very lovely!

  3. Okay - your blog is DANGEROUS because it stirs up the shopping gene inside of me!