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Normally I run 2 sets of pre-war standard gauge under our tree with a few large pre-war tinplate buildings.

This year I'd like to make a traditional Christmas village, snow and all. I have 6 lighted Hawthorn/Norman Rockwell Village buildings (HO scale) that I'm pulling out of storage, where they've been for at least 20 years. I bought O gauge Christmas/ winter related people, small accessories, glittered "snow" draping, "Soft Snow" flakes and snow covered trees. I have cobble stone rubber-like material (about 1/16 inch thick) for streets. I have a complete set of plastic/1950's toy-like "Dime Store Dream" vehicles to use

I plan on running either my pre-war 238E engine pulling tinplate passenger cars 2630 (2) and 2631, or my pre-war 224E engine pulling tinplate passenger cars 2640 (2) and 2641, in the foreground with the buildings elevated behind.

I never made a Christmas village. How do I handle the elevation and snow draping? Do I even use the snow draping or just the snow flakes? If people, trees and small accessories are to be on the snow draping, how do I steady them? How do I integrate the streets/sidewalks? Etc, etc.


Last edited by Lionelski
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John, start with the fact I am lazy so I look for the easiest solution. Here are two pictures of one of my Christmas layouts. I just put 1/2” insulation foam over the plywood and arrange the buildings within the track plan. I use one of the cars to make slight grooves in the foam and use a mascara brush to highlight the tire tracks on the roads. Can do a 5’x8’ layout in just hours.

More detail can be added by using white caulking to make snow banks. One could paint the foam with white glitter paint first if desired. I am not a fan of loose bits of snow or glitter on a layout.



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I paint my base plywood white, then stretch and staple polyester batting onto it.  This makes a flat surface that is firm enough to stand most decorative items on it.  The choice of batting is whatever JoAnne's fabrics has in stock that is thin, dense, and firm - almost like felt.  You can use white felt but it's more expensive.   Avoid the thick fluffy stuff for most areas near track unless you enjoy unwinding fibers from axles and running gear.  Track, buildings, trees, figures, etc. go on top of the base batting layer.

For small figures that need a rigid surface to stand, I glue them to white foam board, then cut holes in some batting and push the figures through the batting so you don't see the board.  I have a bunch of pre-built tree scenes done this way.  Another way to hide the foam board is artificial snow.

Hills and background areas get the fluffy snow batting.  Once lights and power cords are in place, the fluffy stuff is used to hide the infrastructure.

My plywood base looks like Swiss cheese as I'm always cutting new holes for lamp cords and accessory power.  I don't try to run wires under the base batting layer but cover wires with another layer of batting where needed.  Cutting holes after the batting is in place is doable but the batting has to have a window cut in it to drill the hole.

Track screws like to wind up the base batting but firm pressure on the track to keep the batting from moving while screwing in reduces the problem.

Finally, a dusting of artificial snow (the Dept 56 is best) goes on selected areas that get a lot of visual attention.  Keep it away from track.

WRT artificial snow, one of our show's layouts uses a lot of it and the owners have a mini shop vac dedicated to collecting the snow for reuse.Festival of Trains 2015-4853


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I got rid of the  glittered cotton as glitter was getting into the switches. You have to replace it every couple of years too. But everyone that's seen it likes it.  The white paint will make a big difference too.

I have so little clearance to the bottom of the tree, that increasing the height of the boards will create an issue. So, I have to run the wiring on top of the boards and under the batting. That's another reason I use the cotton, it's more fire resistant than polyester.

I also use it to cover the control panel and transformers when the train isn't being used. Looks neater and my wife likes the look too.


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Last edited by Quietman

Ski, I have used 2" foam, painted white and then used the batting as Tracker John did.  Sometimes I lightly sprinkled the flakes you buy at Walmart over the batting to give a bit of a shimmer.  It sticks to the batting, so doesn't mess with engines.  Here are a few variations over the years.  I don't know what to do this year.  I started these when our first daughter vacated her room when she got married.  Now my wife has pretty much taken over both daughters' former rooms for sewing projects and storage.

2014-12-12 21.33.082015-12-19 20.56.082015-12-19 20.56.372016-12-18 16.44.192016-12-18 16.45.102017-12-15 10.35.492017-12-15 10.34.532018-12-23 16.04.062018-12-23 15.19.252019-12-27 11.27.072019-12-27 11.27.00


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I use heavy white felt from the fabric store as a base.  You can use this on upper levels too, or use the cotton snow blankets.  The problem with those is that they are not very wide, so you may need several rows of it.  Then just let it drape over your upper level platform and cut to shape as needed to meet the main level.  For the upper level I use plywood with 2x6 on edge for supports, which give 5" of clearance below if you want to run trains under the platform.  Also get the fiber fill material which you can use for some small hills or under the fabric/mat to give it some shape.  You can see my village in run 315.  Another tip, if the rubber brick streets don't lay flat due to being rolled up, hit it with a hair dryer.


0A8A20CA-0240-4704-AB3B-C96DDD46381AI have been using Buffalo Snow Flurries for several years, and I have not had any trouble with it getting in my locos. I do try to keep it from inside the track. I just spread it with a Big Gulp cup. I tried the spray on stuff once, and it started corroding track almost instantly.

I have a Christmas village on my permanent layout, so I got these 6 light cords to light the buildings. Fewer plugs that way. I got some at Home Depot, and have one from Lemax if a need another.


On my Christmas tree layout, I use a mix of Dept. 56 and traditional buildings from Lionel and MTH. I pre-wired terminals, so I can just hook up the wires. For the Dept. 56 buildings, I use these lights I got from my local train store. That way, everything runs off the transformer, and keeps things simple.


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BTW, here's another idea for you. That's a $13 bluetooth speaker in the gondola between the trees in the car. last year was a "proof of concept". Going to put it on a flat car this year. The music is being played on a smartphone through the speaker.

The candy cane logs are actually pencils with the erasers cut off. The presents in the twin dump car are little styrofoam blocks with wrapping paper and metallic twine I got from Michael's real cheap. They get dumped at the Toy's for Tot's  building on the inner track where the Marine Corps bear collects them. Need to make a hot chocolate factory for the milk cans to be unloaded at.


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MIke and speaker

I too used rigid foam insulation (painted white).

I gave the foam a quick top coat of white latex with a roller.  Once dry, I sprayed the painted foam with 3M Super 77 contact adhesive.  Then I laid out low-pile quilt batting on the sticky surface.  Then, I painted the quilt batting.  I rolled out another coat of white latex right on top of the batting.  While it was wet, I sprinkled it with glitter.

I let it dry overnight.  In the morning, I took all the pieces outside and brushed them off in the lawn.  That was key.  A LOT of glitter came off in the lawn.  Later, I never found glitter on the trains or anywhere else in the house.  You have to get rid of the excess glitter!

Once the paint is dry, the low-pile batting is hard and underneath is rigid foam so no problems with figures.  You can use pins, wire, or toothpicks to brace them if you need to.  I didn't need to.  Make as many levels as you want with the foam and the quit batting.  A few pics from last year...



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Enjoy, John.  I've used the dense pink foam, shaped it with hot foam tools, paint it white, use a water and glue mixture and sprinkle it with the plastic clear glitter you can find at the crafts stores.  Like was previously stated, if you glue it down and shake it off, it generally stays glued on without causing a mess.  By varying the heights of the structures with foam you can get them all to be visible. ---MikeChristmas 2019


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Thanks again for all of the suggestions and pics gang. I'm getting excited about this project!IMG_6360

Attached are pics of the tunnel I just built (it's about 2 1/2 feet long), the Norman Rockwell/Stockbridge Village buildings and accessories I took out of their 25 year storage and misc materials and supplies I've already accumulated. Also the two Lionel PreWar O gauge sets I plan on running there.


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It’s hard to capture in an image on my antique iPad, ....but I just painted my base with semi-gloss white paint, and then while the paint was still very wet, I sprinkled craft store glitter all over it....I used a bunch of different colors to give it that shimmering affect...( my daughters an artist and she suggested that) it really gives it a cool affect, looks like ice when the Christmas tree lights reflect off the glitter...



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