I put my snow village up. It goes on the mantle above the fireplace. I still can't believe I have a house with a fireplace. That was one of my dreams. I love the village. I've written about it before, once when I wrote about my grandma (many of these houses were hers) in 2005, again when I thought about ice skating in 2007. I always mean to show you how I put it together, even though it's very simple and you can probably guess. But this year I took photos to make it easier to explain.
We keep all the snow village supplies in one box all year, so when I pull them out I know I'll have everything I need. First comes a whole bunch of 4" foam blocks that I had cut many years ago at a foam cutting place (just try Googling "foam" and your city's name to find one near you). They've turned kind of yellow over the years. You could use boxes for this, too, as long as they don't show through the fabric too much. I stack them around at different angles.
Then I take some white lights on a white cord — I think this was 100 mini lights — and start draping them over the blocks here and there. I buy new lights every year since they don't seem to last from one year to the next (and once you get this put together, you will not want to take it down to replace the lights when they burn out halfway through the season). In the past I've used icicle lights and those actually work better because you can snake some out the back to pop into the holes in the houses to light them, but I forgot that this year. Ooopsie.
Then I drape everything in about 2 yards of 44"-wide white linen, folded in half lengthwise. Normally I wouldn't have used such a nice fabric for this — muslin would work just fine — but the first year I set this up, 2 yards of linen was what I had in my stash, so I just refold it and put it in the snow village box and reuse the same fabric every year. The linen is nice because it has such a gorgeous drape to it. Whatever you use, make sure that it is neither too thin (so that you can't see the boxes or foam or cord underneath) nor too thick (so that you can't see the lights shining through). I want it to feel like glowy snowdrifts.
Then I just start placing the houses and trees. My houses are a combination, collected over many years, of ones that were my grandma's, ones that I've picked up at antique stores and estate sales, and newer reproductions (Martha Stewart sold a few of these as Christmas ornaments several years ago, but I don't think they have them anymore). I've never made any of my own, but lots of people were making them on the blogs a few years ago, so if you know of a good link to those tutorials, please leave a comment here and we can collect them. (Also, I'd love to see other finished villages, too, if you have one!) The trees are called bottle-brush trees, and many of mine are vintage reproductions made by Bethany Lowe, whose items we used to sell in my store several years ago (when I had a store). The green ones were my grandma's and they are very old.
The church is really cool. I found it at the antique expo many years ago. It was kind of expensive, but I really wanted it, and I'm glad I got it. Every good snow village needs a charming little church, watching over everything.
When I get all the houses out there, I start hanging my snowflakes. These are glitered plastic (from any craft store) and straw (from Ikea), and I use fishing line to attach them to a bunch of little white cup hooks that are screwed directly into our ceiling and stay there all year. (You can't even see them unless you are looking for them.)
I like how the snowflakes make shadows on the sky.
I like how the heart-shaped pine-cone moon rises in the evening over the village.
It reminded me of the one we had last night.