For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by little things. Smaller versions of what people normally use. First it was with Barbie and her teeny tiny kitchen items (dishes and glasses were especially fascinating to me). Once upon a time my father had built me a beautiful dollhouse, three stories, with its own storage cabinet. It was bright yellow with pristine white trim and shutters and...I barely played with it because you know who didn't fit inside. I could really kick that younger version of me.
One day in college, when a class was cancelled and I was hanging out with a friend, she invited me to join her at one of her favorite stores: The Elegant Dollhouse. I'd driven past the place hundreds of times; it was only five minutes from my house. But I'd never ventured inside. But I did that day and from then on, I was transformed into a miniature hobbyist.
Not so long ago, the hobby of dollhouses and miniatures was the second biggest hobby in the world after stamp collecting. It still might be. I haven't checked statistics lately, but it was categorized along with model trains. Makes sense. They kind of go hand in hand although they deal in different scales.
There's a definite oooooh factor for dollhouses, isn't there? Most people, old or young, tend to whisper and ask "how did they do that," or say "that's so tiny!". I did the same thing that first day and actually continue saying similar today. While I'm not as involved in the hobby as I used to be (it's quite time consuming), I did end up working at that dollhouse store for a number of years. I built my own dollhouse (the kit is called The Apple Blossom and it's made by Real Good Toys). I did everything I wanted to in this one house because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be doing another. I've done roomboxes, solitary scenes with different themes such as a vampire pub (I love all things paranormal), and a Greek outdoor cafe named after a hero from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunger series. I also made a "StarBooks" which is part coffee shop part bookstore with hundreds of little books lining the shelves. All these projects reflect who I am, my likes, my personality. You look at one of these and you can see me. I think that's part of what I love about this hobby. It's an art form and a way to express yourself. It's also the perfect way to get the house of your dreams.
You know what else is cool about a lot of dollhouse kits you can buy? A good portion of them are made in the U.S.A. It's also a fabulous family hobby. Imagine a family project of building a home...that fits in your living room (or anywhere else you'd like to put it).
Miniatures decorate their houses for the holidays. Halloween is quite popular, with lots of pumpkins, ghosts, and witches, tiny treats like candy apples on trays or little bags of candy corn sitting in a basket by the door. For me, I love doing up the Christmas big time including a tree in the living room, Santa on the front porch and lights strung and blinking on the wrap around front porch. In the kitchen? A gingerbread house of course along with lots of little odds and ends scattered throughout. Anything you can think to include in your real house you can find for your dollhouse.
For those of you who have already read The Christmas Wish (included in Heartwarming Holiday Wishes), you've been introduced to Plum Pudding Cottage, Christmas Town's own dollhouse store. In my mind, it's modeled after The Elegant Dollhouse (which first opened its doors in 1979 and is still run by the same owner). Hazel MacIver, just like my miniature projects, is a bit of a reflection of me, as she hopes to introduce shoppers and residents of the magic that awaits in building your own small worlds, where the only thing that limits you is your imagination (and perhaps your patience).
If you're looking for a unique and fun gift to give to your family this year, consider a dollhouse. You can find one that suits any taste and budget, from tiny two room houses to opulent Victorian inspired three story tower creations. If you're looking for where to start, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like Hazel, I'm happy to help you discover this wonderful, magical hobby.
In Heartwarming Holiday Wishes, Anna J Stewart contributed The Christmas List. Her latest Harlequin Heartwarming release is A Dad for Charlie.