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How to Create a Halloween Village: Chapter 3

Designing a Dynamic Layout


Developing the initial layout for your village display if often a daunting task. Consider the village pieces you own, the pieces you’d like to highlight, and arrange them in a flowing manner. Sure you can line them up in a row, plug them in and call it day, but more likely, you’ll want to create dynamic, creative, and engaging layouts.

Creating differing levels helps make your display more interesting. You can simply stack a few books or boxes and overlay them with fabric, however, many collectors build temporary displays by carving foam bases. These can be made from styrofoam found at craft stores, but it’s much better to to use polystyrene insulation foam from the hardware store.

First, let’s consider how buildings could sit together to create dynamic layouts.

Focal Points

Choose a few of your new or favorite pieces. These will be placed in two key areas: the center and the extreme left (or right). We read left to right, so most people will also view your display left to right (just like reading a book). Once your focal points are set, it's easy to cluster a few buildings together.


Rather than trying to envision an entire village display, begin clustering buildings around your two focal points, then work outwards creating other nearby clusters. Add cluster by cluster in an asymmetrical manner leaving pockets of space in between until one area is complete (later you will fill in the pockets with accessories). Then move to the next area. By working with only one cluster at a time, the task won’t seem as daunting.

Vary the Levels


Now that you have clusters, you will want to separate them into different levels. Levels can effectively draw the focus up or down or towards certain areas. Buildings on top will be seen first then the eye will flow down to the lower levels. Also, these buildings are highly detailed and solid backgrounds will clarify the intricate rooftops, fences, colors, and lights.

Background vs. Foreground


Just like a painting, the subject matter in the foreground will be considered more important that what is happening in the background. The smaller buildings and accessories will be better displayed toward the front, while the larger or flashier buildings should remain in the background or higher level.

Examine the Flow


Buildings are three dimensional objects so when placing houses in a display vary the angle that they face out. Some can point towards the center. Other clusters can face away from the center. Some could even go around the bend and face another direction entirely. This kind of flowing placement adds significant interest, enticing the viewer to move from one end to the other to see the fronts of buildings.



Accessories like trees, figures, and fences can add a great sense of depth and interest to your display. When creating your layout leave pockets of empty space in between. Once the buildings are in place, add an assortment of accessories. Trees add height, fences create borders, and moss is great for hiding imperfect edges and cords. Of course, no village is complete with some sort of eerie cemetery and pumpkin patch.

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