Reader 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!
Update: Since this story was first published in 2014, U-Bild’s inventory has shifted. Check their website for the latest.
Background: 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.
U-Bild is still in business today, with many of their most popular vintage plans still available for purchase.
Where to buy plans for DIY holiday displays and more:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.