Christmas train layout ideas

Well, yesterday’s Christmas post seems to have gone down well. The Christmas train layout ideas are still comning in:

And I’m thankful to say I have a few more few you.

I pondered over whether to post John’s. It’s a very touching read so I did check with him.

“Hi Al…

With Christmas fast approaching, those were some very special stories. Here’s mine.

There is a beautiful story and song that is a bittersweet Christmas classic. It is about a Child wanting to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother — A final Christmas gift. Events of 2020 have given that song new meaning in my life.

Christy and I were married in November of 1985.

On our first Christmas I gave her an animated doll. It was a Christmas doll meant for outdoor use and yet it has never been outdoors.

She had wanted a doll like that for many years — And the one I gave her was the best I couldn’t afford.

The same Christmas she gave me an LGB garden railway set I had wanted for many years. — That said, Apartment living meant there was never a real garden for it. That gift to me was the best she couldn’t afford.

Together these were a real life version of O’Henry’s “Gift of the Magi”.

Through time and many moves, both of these things went into storage. They languished in their boxes almost 20 years. Life often makes plans for us that frustrate our dreams.

In June of 2019, I lost my mother (she was 100 years old). In that loss, things long stored were removed from storage. The Christmas doll I had purchased was one of those things (as was the LGB set).

Christy’s health was failing also — And in November I knew she would not last through 2020. Last Christmas, 2019, I made sure that the doll I had given her for our first Christmas, the doll that had been part of each or our first 10 Christmases together was on display for her to see.

Through the years of our marriage, Christy got me a train related item every Christmas and for many birthdays as well.

Some were Hallmark ornaments, others were models. We often went shopping together and Christy made note of what interested me — Often what I wanted but would not buy for myself.

Last year, as Christy was losing her ability to leave the house, Christy discovered Bradford Exchange. She made two Christmas related train purchases so that I would have her traditional gift.

Had she been in better health, she probably would have made different decisions BUT the choices she did make were a reflection of her true “child like” nature (the part of her that really brought life to me) AND her love for me. (Sadly, I lost my beloved Christy, my “funny grrlz” in January of this year, 2020.)

Here is a picture of the first gifts Christy and I gave each other.

So far, this is the only Christmas stuff that I have set up this year.

In the doll’s right hand, the hand with the candle, is a small urn on a chain —

The doll is holding what it can of the one to whom the doll was given.


And now on to Gloria and Dave:

“My husband and I bought a Dept 56 Christmas in the City building on every wedding anniversary.

Last year we were up to 30 pieces and decided to incorporate a train. We got excellent advice and service at H&R Trains in Pinellas, Florida and went home with The Polar Express and all the “pieces parts” to run it.

David build a long platform and made shelves to fit into the windows. The back wall is covered in sequined fabric over twinkle lights; I made the elevations and tunnels. He did wiring and lighting.

Our city is vintage New York with Times Square, parks, an airport, New York Harbor, Ellis Island and Lady Liberty.

Our city now has trains, planes, automobiles, trucks, boats and a kid on a tricycle.

We are wishing a happy and safe holiday to each of you.

Gloria and Dave

Orlando FL”

“Hi Al!

Just wanted to wish all your readers and contributors whichever part of the globe they are in, a very Peaceful Christmas and healthy 2021.

This is the Hornby Santa Express, loco and trucks (extra guards van for Santa himself!) fitted out with suitable LEDS, small button cell battery with switch in each, ideal for under the Christmas tree. The Grandchildren love it of course.

Best wishes to all.

Brian, Wokingham, UK”

Christmas train layout ideas

Christmas train layout ideas

Christmas train layout ideas

Christmas train layout ideas

Now on to John with his Christmas train layout ideas:


this is my Christmas tree table layout in O-27.

I put it up around Thanksgiving, take it down about the end of February. It sits in an atrium facing south getting sunshine for most of the winter.

It takes 4hrs to erect by myself. This past summer I modified the legs and frame with cut-outs to reduce weight and ease assembly. The 2 end panels are fastened to the frame by 8 bolts into T-nuts in the panel bottoms.

The middle panels have the electrical connections to the track and turnouts, wire harnessed to the control panel.

Traditionaly I start running the ore trains, NP and GN, with changeouts to passengers, freight, work, and a Santa special on 23 thru 25 Dec.

It’s a double mainline oval with crossovers and a single siding. The mountains and snowshed help hide the fact that most trains are chasing their own cabooses(i). And give me a place to park the trains out of the sunshine.

Because it is disassembled and stored, I have been slow on landscaping details. Even brown paint for the ground or green for foliage. My river cut is still just layered plywood cutouts.

I run some oversized trains for the tight 27″ radius curved track, the outside main has straight sections for each curved, making for a more gentle sweeper turn.

Kinda clutsy, but it works.

John, Auburn, USA”

Christmas train layout ideas

Christmas train layout ideas

Christmas train layout ideas

A big thanks to both Johns, Gloria and Brian for sharing their Christmas train layout ideas.

If you’d like to share a Christmas story or pics, please just email me.

Or if you’d like to wish John a Merry Christmas or add to the post, just scroll down below to the comments section.

That’s all for today folks, please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget, the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to take your first step towards your own layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

27 Responses to Christmas train layout ideas

  1. geoffrey kerr says:

    Beautiful. Love in my heart.

  2. Stephen Dean says:

    Thank you Alastair,
    I like yesterday,s and today’s photos. All very good.
    Seeing that red and black loco in today’s photos, reminded me of a similar looking red and black, live steam, large “O” scale, tank loco, my late father left me.
    Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

  3. James Marek says:


    Touching story which I enjoyed, but nothing like THE GIFT OF THE MAGI…no surprise ending…no irony that O’Henry was known for.


  4. A very Merry Christmas to you Al , and all the members of your Blog site
    Dangerous Dave

  5. Cary B says:

    Another awesome Christmas post. Thank you for sharing these Al,
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all
    Cary B

  6. Greg Schaefer says:

    What a great column. Thanks to all of you today. Have a wonderful holiday and a healthy New Year.

  7. NJ Mark says:

    It is amazing how, for many of us, Christmas and model railroading are connected. I received my first train set 65 years ago, and like many have said, I put my hobby on hold for my family and a career. So when I see a train zipping around a Christmas tree or a beautiful set up like those shown today, I am a kid again!
    Thanks to all a a very Merry Christmas and a Happier and Healthier 2021. Cheers! NJ Mark

  8. Bob Amling says:

    My heart goes out to you, stay strong and continue to set up that set in your wife’s honor.

    Gloria and Dave, what a magnificent layout. Some of the details remind me of the NY Botanical Garden Christmas display. Dave you are a lucky man to have your wife share your hobby.

    Brian, your Hornsby looks great under your tree!

    John, That’s a well planned table for your great Christmas layout. I share your operation of changing out the consists throughout the season.

    Bob in Colts Neck Crossing, NJ

  9. Rob McCrain says:

    This is great Al, a Christmas themed blog. Nice going, it is helping me to get into the mood. Rob McCrain – Farland Howe

  10. Mark T. Pianka says:

    John, Sorry 4 your loss, I wish You the best in 2021 Great Stories from all , Outstanding Job to Al for making this all to Happen!! God Speed!!

  11. Thanks to all, especially John, who shared their Christmas train posts today. Merry Christmas and wishing a Happy and Healthy 2021 to all.

    Kevin Oakdale MN USA

  12. george zaky says:

    Thank you Al for this great site.
    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, happy Kwanza, happy Ramadan, (all included ) and a Healthy New Year to all who share such awesome aspects of the hobby we have in common. John, Gloria & Dave ( awesome layout), Brian, and John thanks.
    Tough year, but by sharing the fun things we can have a moment of happiness and have hope.
    All be well & safe
    George from LI, NY

  13. Jim AZ says:

    The wonder of Christmas and trains and all the fond and sometimes sad memories are forever connected during this time. I’m sure we all can reflect and relate to seasons past and smile and feel grateful to have had some joyous and happy times too. It was great to hear some of them today.
    I wish everyone a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year.

    Jim AZ

  14. Joe Gennari says:

    thanks!!! merry christmas!!! ho ho ho!

  15. Ron Nelson says:

    Thanks to all who have contributed this year its great to know alot of us are having a great time with our love of trains. Merry Christmas to all . Ron from sunny Fla.

  16. Ben Olson says:

    John, what a wonderful way to honor the memory of your wife, Christy. It’s a reminder we should be thankful for all we have, in the moment we have it. And when change comes upon us, to honor the memory. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you all the best.

    And Al, thank you for all you do to keep the rest of us talking, sharing, thinking, and learning. Judging by the posts, it’s clear that to many of us, this is more than a just a hobby, It’s an extension of our past, filled with memories, joy, family and friends. Thank you for helping us make and keep that vital connection.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all!

  17. Dave, ON says:

    And another “Merry Christmas to All” from the snowy Algonquin region in Canada. Santa is outside, preparing the sleigh !

  18. Greetings One and All!
    I, too have a lengthy Christmas/train story to share and will submit it as an Email. The stories presented here are very beautiful, nostalgic and bitter-sweet. This will be my first Christmas without my Mother. She passed away on 17 June 2020 at age 104 and a-half. I am 82. She, too loved my trains and the HO scratch built structures that I made. Mom was especially fond of my Ukrainian-style church (which existed in real life in Mundare, Alberta), my grain elevators, the Standard Gasoline station, and a small horse barn. My interest in trains goes back to my beginnings. The great steam era and electric heavy interurban cars. Memories and tears! I also re-celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January with the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox world.

  19. Gloria bullman says:

    Bob A.,
    Thanks for compliment on our New York layout. My favorite city but have never been to the Botanical Garden. David chuckled at your nice compliment that he is lucky to have a wife who shares his hobby. I am the lucky one in reality. I wanted to add the train to our city and he made it happen. He had trains as a kid but never did scenery. He raced his train with his brother’s. We are train lovers in our travels and have been on some wonderful journeys.
    Happy holidays and stay safe

  20. Berniedoc says:

    I dont know if they will have the NY botanical train display up this year. The last few were magnificent. Bernie.

  21. David W Pittsfield, MA USA says:

    What a wonderful Christmas post.
    John, as I read that story, I had a tear in my eye. What a beautiful way to remember your beloved. My heartfelt thanks for sharing those wonderful memories. May God truly bless you this Christmas season.

  22. Garry Schneider says:

    Thank you for hard work you do assembling this site, day after day and year after year. To you, and especially to John for his beautiful story, which must have brought tears to his eyes as it did to mine. Today was one of those days when I had become depressed by external events and needed a reminder that what matters is those near to me. Thank you both, and Merry Christmas. Garry in Maine

  23. John T. Meyer, Sr. says:

    I received my first train 81 years ago for Christmas ….and it still is.
    Merry Christmas to all!
    Naples FL

  24. Thank you to everyone who sent stuff in christmas is a special time of year.Weather enjoying family and friends or remembering special times with loved
    ones who have pasted on don’t ever lose the christmas spirit we got when we where childeren.Call those people you have’nt talked to in years,help at your church,give a person your change when they’re down on their luck this and
    other things will pay you great rewards now and later
    bob from kissimmee florida

  25. Nothing like a train Christmas. Have a Merry Christmas!

  26. BARRY LIPTON says:

    What would all of the holidays be without TRAINS!!!!!!!!

    May all your days be circus days and enjoyment


  27. Larry Baucom says:

    Beautiful photos thanks for the fond memories you brought back to me

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