the dining room starter set

The mantle madness started with an inherited grouping from my husband’s Aunt Vertie. Livertie was an avid Christmas collector. She and I share that trait, though we never met.

After she passed, her daughter (my husband’s cousin) Kimberly Sue gathered up Vertie’s Christmas figures and brought them to a family gathering. Knowing my obsession with holiday decorating, my husband asked me to look them over and then he laid claim to a group of figures.

I didn’t think much else about the set that first time I dressed our mantle with them, filling out the space with other glittery holiday cheer.

The Dining Room Set:

The Dinner Table is an elaborately decorated piece that captivated me from the start. It has a lot of information.

The candlesticks are loose pieces that set in recesses on the table, making a fun little puzzle to find which recess lets which candlestick stand upright. Everything else is cast with the table.

Meet the Family: Mr. and Mrs. Bell.

All of the pieces in this series are decorated in the round, many details never being seen in most manners of display. This is why I built the turntable displays.

Mrs. Bell’s skirts hide stacks of presents under her chair

The platform for this vignette is set directly on the mantle. It doesn’t turn, so many of the hidden details are out of view on this pieces.

Mr. Bell has just given Mrs. Bell her gift as the family gathers for Christmas dinner

Nicholas and Spot.

Nicholas is sneaking a cookie to Spot the dog. This is the piece I scattered across our hardwood floor the second year I set them on display. I super-glued him together for that season. This piece led me to find the rest of the series online.

So, Vertie’s Nicholas shattered to pieces, and I was heartbroken. So I replaced him, and soon after snapped off his chairback struggling to get him out of the packaging. So I replaced him.


Spot the dog wasn’t with Vertie’s grouping, even though he vividly remembered Spot from Aunt Vertie’s display. I’m glad Spot came with the replacement Nicholas (times two, so we have a backup).

The Natalies.

Natalie, Nicholas and Spot were released as a set, so each time I replaced Nichols (and added Spot), we got an additonal Natalie. The extra place settings inspired me, and my husband enjoyed the Shining-esque identical twins. (Vertie’s Natalie stays in safe-keeping. Since skintones vary greatly due to handpainting, I use the two replacement copies that were the closest match.)

Aunt Martha and the turkey.

Aunt Martha has a lopsided face mold but brings with her the main attraction of the family’s dinner. She stands in front of the diningroom sideboard, which I added in the series expansion.

The sideboard is double-sided, backed by a kitchen sideboard (that I’ll feature in a future post). Both sides are packed with details, in relief with angled perspective.

There are two more figures and one set piece that came from Aunt Vertie. I’ll point them out in the appropriate vignettes in future posts.

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