This Charming Holiday Village of Block Houses Works in Two Ways—for Christmas and Hanukkah
As a décor idea, it doubles as an advent calendar and menorah.
Holiday décor seems to get more and more beautiful each year, but sprinkling in a few handmade items here and there will always be the best way to bring the cozy holiday spirit into your home. It's also a wonderful way to get your family involved in the tradition of holiday crafting—no matter their age. While creating this village with my four year old, she got excited at the "street lamp candles" we were placing on the menorah, and I loved hearing her take on the project. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on our neighborhood, and the idea that the candles are a sort of street lamp shining down on all the people we love.
First, create an assortment of miniature houses in various shapes and sizes for your village. You can purchase a set of wooden block houses ($16.49 for 15, amazon.com) and decorate them with Martha Stewart Family Friendly Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Craft Paint ($2.49, michaels.com). Paint each wooden house to your liking, then decorate using an acrylic paint marker ($15.99, amazon.com). For inspiration, try searching images of homes or cottages in your favorite cities.
How to Make a Menorah Village
To create a menorah, arrange the block houses to your liking then decide the placement for the nine 1-inch wood dowel caps ($8.99 for 12, amazon.com)—one for each night of Hanukkah plus the shamash candle that is used to kindle the others. Don't feel limited in your creativity: It's just as easy to glue the caps on the slanted portion of the roof as it is on the flat roofs. Place the candles in the wood dowels by gently twisting them down into place. You'll see a bit of wax shave off the sides, but that's how you'll get a good, snug fit. Once the candles are placed in the dowels, you can then hot-glue them to the rooftops or sides of the buildings.
How to Make an Advent Calendar Village
To create an Advent village, simply glue small numbered envelopes ($4.49 for 10 sets, michaels.com) to the backs of each building, folding the bottom portion of the envelope under if you need to make it smaller. Write out 24 different activities, challenges, or coupons for your family to read each day, and place in the envelopes. You can either put out one house per day or put them all out, and search for the number according to the day. Remember, you will need 24 houses in order to make this project.