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.

  1. 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

    1. 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.

  2. Mark Parkins says:

    It is absolutely fantastic that this is still available. Check out this motorized version that I video taped 25 years ago. I just ordered the kit. In 2016, we will attempt to duplicate this classic design. Merry Christmas everyone!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Erin, I am not the seller — refer to the retailer profiled in the story. All bold bright blue text = hotlinks. Good luck.

  3. Donna Desmarais says:

    Good Morning Pam, My husband Gary and I are one of your “mystery readers”. We purchased our 1949 built home in July of 2013., with all of the contents. You have been inspiring us since Gary went to the internet for advice on renovating our pink lavenette. When you posted Nathan’s story about U-bild, he said “we have one of those, too!” His first attempt with Santa was devastating. He used the wrong glue and when he tried to reposition the paper….well, he killed Santa. I ordered a new one and signed up for U-bild’s newsletter. Unfortunately Santa’s workshop and the soldiers are no longer available and they are starting to discontinue some other patterns because they are so expensive to print. We do have others in the original mailers in our “archives”. We can take some pictures and send them to you if you like. We feel an obligation carry on the history of this home and the treasures it holds. It is an adventure everyday.

  4. Margaret says:

    This is wonderful and perfect for a mid century home, but I can’t resist a nitpick: those are not reindeer. They don’t look anything like reindeer. Google an image of an actual reindeer and compare it. They mostly look like whitetails but the antlers aren’t right. It always bugs me a little that most Christmas decorations can’t make reindeer actually look like reindeer!

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