Mike makes a U-Bild Santa and reindeer lawn display from scratch — vintage plans still available today

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn SetReader Mike is wowing his neighborhood — he had a carpenter build and install this U-Bild Santa and reindeer lawn display on his front lawn. Mike used vintage plans he found on ebay, but guess what: We can still get these mid-century plans (and more like them) made new today by the same company — in business since 1948 — 66 years! This is over the top fantastic! 

Mike writes:

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn SetBackground:  We purchased our 1950 house from its original owner in the winter of 2010, and within a month of signing the contracts I bought a vintage U-Bild kit (Santa, sleigh, eight reindeer) on eBay for around $50.  I don’t really remember how I stumbled upon it or what what prompted the search; I just knew when I saw it that it was the kind of thing that very well may have stood on our front lawn at Christmas 60 years earlier.

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn Set

U-Bild is still in business today, with many of their most popular vintage plans still available for purchase.

Where to buy these plans for DIY Santa displays and more: 

Mike’s story:

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn SetThe kit consisted of high quality paper posters (reindeer done in 5 pieces).  Each piece had to be cut out, glued to plywood, cut out with a scroll saw, assembled and varnished.

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn Set

We had the Santa on our front porch when I was a kid, so it’s very nostalgic to now have the whole set on the front lawn of my own home.

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn Set

Fast-forward 4 1/2 years, and I determined to find someone to finally assemble this for us.  I lucked out when young carpenter Kyle Reckman answered the ad I had placed on kijiji.com (similar to Craigslist).  He was establishing his own business and was looking for jobs, and he was willing to guarantee completion within two weeks.

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn Set

Kyle was very enthusiastic about this unusual project, and he offered to complete every step of it himself: picking up the plans from me, purchasing the necessary construction materials, gluing the patterns onto the plywood, cutting all the pieces out carefully with a scroll saw, assembling everything with screws and wood glue, sealing the finished products with a protective coat of urethane, and delivering them and installing them on our front lawn.  The project ended up costing about twice what I had budgeted, but given its scope and Kyle’s terrific execution it was well worth it.

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn Set

We set it up on the lawn with two strings of old-school C7 lights serving as reins, and two flood lights positioned on the lawn to illuminate it sufficiently at night.

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn Set

Our neighbours are already raving about it! I plan to purchase one more reindeer kit so that we can add a Rudolph (complete with red lightbulb nose) to next year’s display!

1950s U-bild Santa Lawn Set

Jingle Bellzapalooza, this is amazing! We’re gonna guess: Not only are the neighbors all along your street jealous — everyone in Retro Renovation World is, too, today. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Mike — including another great new/old resource: U-Bild. We are already in touch with the company about doing a detailed profile.


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  1. Betsy says

    I have been having a great time with all the light up molded plastic (made in USA, yet!) made in old molds holiday decorations that are coming back around on the market. I asked for a ghost for my fall birthday as compensation for the Halloween lawn inflatable my son earned for good behavior (let me be clear, for the record, that this is the ONLY inflatable that we will ever own!). I figured that if I was going to have tacky, I wanted retro tacky. I just bought a pair of NOEL candles for my front lawn, partly to keep said son from complaining that we don’t have Christmas inflatables. Way cool.

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        Oh, yes, we all have something others find horrifying. 🙂 But I think Betsy’s son will be super good this coming year, and you might have a lawn full of inflatables by the time he graduates magna cum laude! Then, in 2030 or so, he will be back picking through your garage looking for those old inflatable decorations, which will be retro by then.

    • carolynapplebee says

      hey, we had those plastic NOEL candles, I had forgotten all about those. my brother would put the flame part on his hands and pretend to be the Human Torch!!

  2. Kelly says

    Love love love! That Santa is so jolly and gorgeous. We bought our mid-mod house 3 years ago and I’ve been decorating to the era with the old multi-color large bulb lights found at a garage sale and the tinsel tree from eBay, etc. his dedication to the cause is very admirable! Merry Christmas everyone!

  3. Marilyn says

    Yes, this company is great. About 12 years ago, I purchased a manger scene pattern from them and built it myself. Unfortunately, I had it stored in one of our buildings that we lost in a fire a couple of years ago. It is simple to do, if you have the tools. The most expensive part is purchasing weather proof boards. The being patient as well as careful with gluing the full color pattern to the boards…can be a little tricky….but turned out beautiful….Wish I still had it.

  4. Pamela Byrd Berard says

    OMG! This is right up my alley. Congrats – wonderful; terrific!!! Your carpenter should be commended; skills = 2nd to none! Thank you for sharing!

  5. says

    I have a wood cut-out Santa, paper over board, that is either old or vintage. It stands about 4 feet tall and looks very similar to the one in this design. It HAD a real sack that was held in Santa’s hand…until, while I was on my lunch break Thursday, our custodian spotted it and decided to drill holes in it and mount it to our roof IN THE RAIN. I got it down before it was completely destroyed, but now nobody can find the sack, and I am trying to find a picture to show what it looks like! Is there anyone who might be able to identify it if I send them a photo, and tell me a) where/when it might have come from, and b) whether the sack was fabric or vinyl or some other material (I didn’t put it out this year, and now I can’t remember, which is part of the problem – and, that’s even assuming it was the original sack)? My work e-mail is ajones at ci dot alamogordo dot nm dot us – please put “Santa” in the subject line, so it doesn’t go to spam. Thank-you!

  6. mike says

    Dear friends and readers!
    I am looking for the book to order the patterns to make this display!I made this in 1986. Set it up and it was vandelized. Made the front page of the local newspaper due to the fact so many local christmas displays were vandelized. If a reader to this know of a way I could get the original order book “u can do it ” or information to obtain the display I would be most greatfull!

    • pam kueber says

      Mike, this story includes a link to the company that makes the build-it-yourself plans. Look for the link toward the top of the story — it’s in bold blue.

  7. mark huddleston says

    I found Santa and it has holes for lights like the pic with the sleigh and reindeer. I also have frosty and a snow woman. Who is she? Is there any value in these items?

    • Heart says

      Lucky find! Great MCM item, would look great in front of an Eichler Home.

      According to the 1976 “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland” TV special, Frosty’s wife is named “Crystal”. (sequel of sorts to the original 1969)

      Regarding Value: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. You could check ebay’s ‘completed listings’ October-November-December.

  8. Bob Machwoski says

    Hi, I was just looking to see it anybody had made this display recently and found this story. I have had these plans for 17 year and never built it beause I was not sure what glue to use and what sealer to cover it with. I now have MDO plywood which is made to be smooth and weather proof adn I’m going to start. Since your’s came out absoulty perfect could you share what brand of gule ans sealer was used?

    Thanks, Bob

    • Nate R says

      I just purchased and U-bild told me to use Titebond II glue and Varathane Spar Urethane. Hoping to get mine started this week, I will try to get back on here to post some updates on my own.

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