Occasionally someone asks me to recommend an HO scale holiday village or HO scale Christmas village. The big-name villages are too big for HO scale trains, generally speaking, so I understand. There’s no big-name HO scale holiday village but there is a very affordable one.
I recommend Cobblestone Corners, available at Dollar Tree. Old stock is easy to find on Ebay as well.
Dollar Tree sells Cobblestone Corners buildings and figures around the holidays. The figures are too big for HO scale. The buildings are perhaps a bit undersized for HO scale but they’re close, and they’re cheap. They cost a dollar.
When looking at the buildings, pay attention to the door. Real-life doors are between 6 and 7 feet tall. It just so happens that a nickel is about the size of 6 feet in HO scale. A quarter happens to be about the size of 7 feet in HO scale. So if the building’s door is the size of a nickel or a quarter or somewhere in between, it will look fine with HO scale trains.
Dollar Tree also sells battery-operated lamp posts and trees. Also be sure to look in all of the aisles in the seasonal section. They usually have fake snow and other useful items for scenery as well.
You have two options with the figures. The figures are oversize but only by about 25%. So you can use the Dollar Tree figures anyway. Or you can use actual HO scale figures intended for model trains. They are plentiful and not especially expensive. Get some figures suitable for the time period you wish to invoke, along with some vehicles, and you’ll be able to create a very inexpensive holiday village with the sense of nostalgia you seek and just enough whimsy.
I have no idea whether Dollar Tree chose HO scale on purpose or if it was just a happy accident. But it’s good to know that HO scalers don’t have to feel left out when it comes to holiday villages.
Also, don’t ignore the other stores. The other scenic items intended for bigger-name holiday villages may be useful. The cobblestone roads, for example, are way oversized but look the part. You may want to use them anyway.