Want to learn how to make some quick and easy flatcar loads for Christmastime? You don’t need an heirloom set or holiday-specific cars to make your own Christmas train. With a little imagination and a trip to your local arts and crafts store, you can find Christmas cargo that will turn almost any piece of rolling stock into a holiday hauler. If you shop early enough, you can assemble an entire Christmas train using cars you have on hand for less than the price of a new freight car.
Most arts and crafts stores and dollar stores carry a selection of miniature holiday items, such as ornaments, Christmas trees, mini gifts, and bells, that are great for gondolas, hoppers, and even work cabooses. For this project, I found several holiday-themed items that fit perfectly on an O-gauge flatcar.
My favorite flatcar cargo finds came from the floral section. That’s where I discovered what are called floral picks, which are decorative items on flexible rods used to adorn plants and floral arrangements. For this project, I found floral picks with wrapped presents and red plastic pickups hauling Christmas trees. I pulled out the flexible rod from each item, placed two or three of each (depending on size) on a flatcar, and tied each one down. Florist’s wire in holiday colors (also in the floral section) works great for tie-downs, but the longer, wider twist ties that keep my dry-cleaning hangers together work just as well.
The arts and crafts store’s holiday section led to even more holiday flatcar freight. That’s where I found sleighs, plastic ornaments, and silver bells that are the ideal size to fit on a flatcar.
As I looked at my flatcar roster, I realized I could also dress up my existing freight for the season. Wrapping the small, red foil bows I found over my auto cargo turned a Lionel No. 6424 flatcar into a fun holiday car. (Who wouldn’t want a ‘64 Mustang for Christmas?) These bows can also wrap around smaller containers or crates, too. If your existing cargo is too large for foil bows, you can find other sizes of bows with an adhesive back that you can easily apply and remove after the holidays.
The best part about making your own festive flatcars is that the craft store inventory, whether in-store or online, changes every year and will vary between retailers. Plus, the big box arts and crafts stores will usually get their holiday items on the shelves before Halloween and offer it at a discount before the holiday rush. That means, with a little planning and some imagination, you find Christmas flatcar cargo to easily and affordably assemble an entire train of eye-catching holiday haulers to run under your tree!