Christmas Train Garden Tradition

Ever since our dating days, I can remember my husband (then boyfriend) talking about the train garden he had as a child. His eyes would light up as he would describe it to me in detail. Down to the arrangement of houses around it, to the salt they used to pour to look like snow, to the fake brick paper that lined the table it rested on. I’d say it’s one of, if not THE greatest memories he has of his childhood Christmases. He’d spend hours just sitting in front of it, watching the trains zoom by. Every year at Christmas, he reminisces about it, and how much he’s looking forward to creating these same memories with our kids. For the past 5 Christmases, we’ve had at least one very small munchkin crawling around the place, and a train garden was definitely not feasible…until now.

This is the very first year we have kids old enough to handle having a train garden in the house without worrying they’re going to destroy it, and so we went for it. This has been 100% Paul’s project. He’s been like a little kid with all the details – it’s been quite fun to sit back and watch. He spent some nights doing a little googlin’ to try and find the right trains. Then he spent some hours working on the right table. Then he spent some more time setting up the houses around it. And now…I have to say, it’s been worth every minute and every penny spent.

Ha! of course there’s a chalkboard in the background, right?! Forgive me, I should have erased or cleaned it up a bit before I shot these pictures…oops. Hey, it adds…er…character, right? 😉

Let me backtrack a little and show you how this labor of love began…
Once our exciting train package arrived, Paul set up the track to see how large it was. (And because our kids spotted the box and were DYING to test it out – or was that Paul who was more excited? Yep. I’d say Paul). Then he brought home a large piece of plywood from a scrap pile at work that would serve as our table. He picked up some 2x1s and mitered the edges, to give the wood a lip. He used a little liquid nails on it, then clamped them into place while that dried.

Once that dried, he flipped it over and drilled in wood screws to secure those pieces. Then, he screwed four blocks underneath the table. The reason for these blocks is so that the crates we’re using as legs have something to keep them in place.


It was given a couple coats of white paint and that part was done. Then he drilled holes for all the cords of the houses.


Once he set up the trains, houses and all the accessories, he pinned brick paper (just like way back when) along the sides of the table, to hide all the extension cords, crates, etc.


We thought we were done at this point. But we found a large piece of white felt in the Christmas bins, so Paul laid that down underneath – he added a piece of electrical tape under the track piece that held the wiring, just to be safe. Then of course, had to top it all off with fake snow. The kids had fun with this part!

He has thought of everything – he keeps a straw next to the table, and blows the “snow” off the track when we want to turn it on. Smart AND handy – lucky girl, right? 😉
And our very first Train Garden is complete!






The kids are in HEAVEN, but I think Paul’s enjoying it the most this year. The smile on his face as he turned the train on for the first time, and watched it zoom by was priceless. He said it’s just like the one they used to have. I can picture the little boy in him, spending hours just watching and watching…probably looked a lot like this…

My husband has brought his family’s Christmas tradition back to life once again. If our children look back at their childhood Christmases with the same fondness and magic as he does, well, I can’t think of any better gift. Well done, Paul. Your mom would be so proud.

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