As your Christmas village display expands and progresses year on year, there will likely come a time when you will start to feel the need to move from the flat small town display that most people begin with and on to something more adventurous. It could be that restrictions on space place limitations on continued lateral development or perhaps it is simply an ambition to be more creative, to add more realism, variety and detail but chances are that sooner or later you are likely to begin thinking three-dimensionally. To build upwards as well as outwards.
The most simplistic solution to vertical building is through the use of ordinary boxes and shelves. In order to support weight, plastic boxes and tubs are likely to be more practical than cardboard ones. Plastic storages boxes and crates can be quite effective. Crates may even have holes that are useful for threading wiring through. Boxes of decreasing size stacked on top of one another can produce a simple but effective mountain shape. Once dressed with a sheet or preferably a snow blanket, add some lighted buildings and enhance with trees and figurines and the result can be a quite stylish, three-dimensional mountain village display.
There are also plenty of ready-made solutions available on the market. These can be a little pricey but have the benefit of being purpose built, often come with pre-cut holes for wiring and look the part straight out of the box or can be made to look pretty fantastic with a relatively small amount of dressing.
Perhaps the most extensive range of ready-made platforms and display bases are those produced by My Village. This Dutch company specialises in landscaping accessories, decorating materials, paints etc which are designed to be compatible with Christmas villages produced by Lemax, Department 56, Luville and other leading brands.
Unsurprisingly, a number of the Christmas village brands have also produced their own display bases and platforms. These range from basic shaped polystyrene platforms, intended simply to raise the level of lighted houses placed on them to more detailed, sculpted and painted mountain scenery.
Our preferred designs of these are those produced by Lemax. Again, a little expensive, these are at least rather attractive and quite realistic. The best models are sculpted and painted mountain platforms, crafted from polystyrene and adorned with snow and often complete with a set of trees to complete a polished appearance.
An alternative to to the pre-made platforms produced by the Christmas village brands is to go with something a little more custom made. There are a few suppliers in the US that are constructing Christmas village platforms and bases by hand and making them available for sale. We struggled however to find anyone in the UK doing the same to a good standard and on a commercial basis. What we did find was a US supplier that is willing to ship custom made platforms to the UK. The images below are of display bases produced by this supplier, clicking on an image will direct you to their store. Of course, shipping overseas is quite expensive but with lower unit costs, these custom display platforms come in at an approximate total cost of £40 – £75. Considering some of these are multi-level and quite substantial in size, this could still provide reasonable value. Many of these platforms also have the added benefit of being modular in nature which allows you to extend with additional units and create a truly unique display.
With a little creativity and raw materials, you could also produce similar results to these for yourself. Polystyrene is widely available and can vary significantly in cost. There is no real need to spend a lot but we do suggest using a modelling grade rather than packaging grade polystyrene. Our recommendation is to use high density 20g/ltr, as supplied by Mr Polystyrene which is priced very competitively. Additionally, we recommend using a hot wire cutter for cutting and sculpting and acrylic or water-based paints (other paints can melt polystyrene.) Further landscaping accessories such as paving, hedging etc are available from Christmas village manufacturers or consider modelling and model train suppliers as these often provide excellent detail and realism.