6 Nostalgic Christmas Village Ideas for Your Holiday Mantel

We first featured these classic Christmas decorations in 1966, and they're still popular today.

Christmas is a nostalgic time of year, and holiday decor can often invoke fond memories and sentimental feelings. Holiday decor trends are always changing, but there are a few iconic decorating traditions that come back year after year. Classic Christmas villages have been used to celebrate the holiday for hundreds of years, and modern versions of the iconic miniature houses have become even more popular lately with the trend of nostalgic Christmas decor.

We first featured Christmas villages as a decorating trend in the 1966 edition of Better Homes & GardensChristmas Ideas book, but the miniature towns have been around for hundreds of years. The age-old Christmas Village tradition initially began as nativity scenes illustrating the Christmas story. Their biblical significance got lost in translation as they passed through different European regions and traditions, later arriving in the United States.

The whimsical Christmas village tradition we're familiar with today culminated with putz (or plaster) houses in the 19th century, and it’s these quaint displays we’ll be displaying on our holiday mantels this season. Deck your halls with Christmas nostalgia this year with a magical winter village scene. These are our favorite Christmas village ideas, ranging from modern to classic to nontraditional.

01 of 06

Winter Christmas Village Houses

snowy Christmas village

Adam Albright

Can you believe these pretty little houses are made from card stock? With so many options for store-bought decor, Christmas crafts sometimes feel like a thing of the past—but this homemade Christmas village is the perfect excuse to get out the crafting supplies. Start a fun family Christmas tradition by creating a Christmas village together, and adding a new homemade house each year. Flickering battery-operated candles, faux snow, and some miniature fir trees bring this mantel display to life.

02 of 06

Eclectic Christmas Village Display

white mantel with green garland and wood christmas village
Adam Albright

If you’re not already a proud owner of vintage putz houses, we suggest you start your hunt now before they fly off the shelves. To get your hands on the real deal, head to thrift stores or scour the web for vintage finds. A mix of wood, metal, ceramic, and paper houses makes for a fun, eclectic display full of rich narrative, with each house telling its own unique story. Line your Christmas village set along the sideboard in your entryway with a Christmas garland as a festive welcome for guests.

03 of 06

Cardboard Christmas Village Decor

diy christmas decor with cardboard village
Jay Wilde

One thing we never fall short of in the leadup to Christmas is cardboard boxes (thank you, Amazon). Instead of chucking them onto the recycling pile, why not re-home them on your mantel as Christmas village decor? Cut them into house-like shapes in various sizes and decorate them using a white pen or paper cutouts. This cardboard Christmas village blends seamlessly into this neutral rustic farmhouse decor. Anchor the houses on a bed of pine foliage and crown them with a simple evergreen wreath.

04 of 06

Gingerbread Christmas Village

gingerbread forest cookie woodland scene on tabletop
Jacob Fox

Why stick to a solitary gingerbread house when you could make an entire gingerbread neighborhood? Merging two iconic Christmas traditions into one gorgeous mantel display, these tiny decorated houses are too cute to eat. Adorn your creations with your favorite sweet treats and surround them with green gingerbread trees and cookie-cutter woodland wildlife. Finish them off with a sprinkle of coconut ‘snow,’ then sit back and marvel at your gingerbread Christmas village masterpiece.

05 of 06

Minimalist Christmas Village Display

wooden tree christmas village

Alice & Lois

If you fancy yourself as more of a minimalist, you’ll love this abstract tree village that's made from cut balsa wood. The natural wood finish suits a Scandi chic vibe, though you could easily paint them to match your existing color scheme too. Cluster them on a coffee table or make them the centerpiece of your dining table. Display them on a bed of green foliage to subtly allude to real Christmas trees and add some shine with a scattering of gold jingle bells.

06 of 06

Paper Christmas Village Silhouette

christmas mantel red green village wreath
Jay Wilde

DIY Christmas decorations like this paper Christmas village silhouette make your holiday that bit more special. As well as bringing the family together with a shared activity, you can revel in the knowledge your Christmas decor will be truly unique. All you need is a pair of scissors and some white cardstock, which means more cash in your pocket for stocking stuffers. Place your Christmas village on your mantel or display it in a bay window for the neighbors to admire. Hide a string of Christmas lights behind to create a cozy glow and make it stand out by surrounding it with pops of festive color, like red candles, baubles, and other holiday ornaments.

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