Welcome to the Villagemaking 101 minisite brought to you by MyScaryHalloween.com. Creating a Halloween village display is a ghastly and satisfying hobby. Getting started is easy but like most hobbies it requires an investment of time, new skills, and often costly materials. The following is an overview of what I have learned over the last decade of mostly self-taught villagemaking. As with all arts and crafts, there are no rights and wrongs, just a fun hobby that you can customize to your bloody heart's content.
Shopping for a Village
The first step is finding the Halloween village pieces you like. The little houses and buidlings are typically made of porcelain/ceramic, highly detailed, painted by hand, and include some sort of light source, whether it's a light bulb inside or more elaborate LED lighting. They range anywhere from $30 to $150 so it can be an expensive hobby. These are considered collectibles with limited circulation and availability, and can be hard to find. Every year new pieces are introduced and some are "retired" making some pieces highly sought after in the collectibles market (often selling for hundreds of dollars over their initial price).
There are two main companies producing quality village buildings and accessories: Department 56 and Lemax. Each year new pieces are announced early in the year with availability later that summer. Few stores carry these kinds of collectibles but there is some availability at Michaels, select Hallmark stores, and independent retailers. Ebay, and other online stores are your best bet and some reputable stores are listed on the Village Resources page.
Building a Display
Once you've acquired your village pieces it's time to unshackle your imagination and let it run wild. Consider where you will put your village, your access to electricity (with no cords to trip on), and how you want viewers to interact with your village. Are you telling a story? Or just setting up some frightful sights? There are several ways to create layouts for your village from simple vignettes on a table or mantle to more elaborate platforms carved from styrofoam. Most collectors build temporary displays but some create year-round displays that expand every year. Whether it's small village or a large one, make sure to consider storage since collections typically multiply quickly with each passing year. The next section How-To Tricks & Tips will go into greater depth on where to go next.