How To Toy Train Layouts 10 tips for a better holiday toy train display

10 tips for a better holiday toy train display

By David Smith | November 20, 2022

Ways to get the most enjoyment from this season

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10 tips for a better holiday toy train display

With the holidays on the way, we at Classic Toy Trains wanted to share ways to have a better holiday toy train display. Here are 10 tips from hobbyist David Smith.

1. Traditional O-27 tubular track allows for more varied track plans in a small space.

2. An asymmetrical track plan with lots of curves adds interest and variety.

3. Use several half-straight and half-curved sections to create intriguing schemes.

Lionel no. 82982 LionChief Christmas Express train set
Smaller equipment works better on a small layout. Photo by Bill Zuback

4. Operate small, reliable locomotives and short rolling stock in this setting. You’ll thank yourself for doing this later.

hand holding two pieces of hardboard
White hardboard makes a great base for a holiday layout. Photo by David Smith

5. Use 1/8- to ¼” -inch hardboard for the layout surface and cover with it with fleece. Fleece is available at fabric stores and some big-box stores.

6. Add artificial snow in some open areas, but keep it 2 inches away from the track.

7. Try using all-white wires for electrical connections. They’ll be harder to see atop the snow.


Christmas tree with train layout underneath it
David Smith added white lights on the lower tree branches to help showcase the trains. Photo by David Smith

8. Illuminate the trains below by installing a string of white lights on the lowest tree limbs.

Model steam engine in Christmas scene
Gordon Hough uses bottle brush pine trees as decoration on his holiday layout.

9. Populate the display with plenty of inexpensive snow-covered “bottle brush” pine trees.

10. Put the display on the floor, like you did as a child. You’ll get the most enjoyment out of the display.

One thought on “10 tips for a better holiday toy train display

  1. I have been doing a winter, Christmas train layout for several years. As noted simple short trains work best especially if you add curves or a tunnel segment. My layout is relatively simple. I run on a 4×8 plywood base painted white with the addition of winter trees and buildings from the various ceramic seasonal building companies. One best bet for budgeting buy your buildings after Christmas when they are typically 50% or more off list price. While selection will be less you can get some you want. As for trains I run the Polar Express on Lionel fast track and have a bump and go trolley line running on 0-27 Lionel track that serves the train station and goes out to a ski and skating area as well as serving the town area. Have fun and enjoy your Christmas Winter train layout.

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