Christmas Tree Decorating Idea Ladder Display Shelf

10847826_10203373172190989_4256777734212661934_nThis is a little different but is such a unique idea. For those with limited space you can create a space to display your Christmas village scene, nutcrackers, music boxes, etc. A simple old ladder will do to give a nice rustic look or use a wooden ladder and paint it to sit your design. Wood planks were cut to width to fit between legs of ladder to rest on foot steps of ladder. Here they covered with lights and lined each shelf with white ‘snow’ to create a village scene.


Kristin and Paul submitted their great design – guys it turned out really nice – so glad you are continuing to display and collect what was passed on to you. It makes it that much more special!



Sue and Steve McDonald from Maryland sent in their project that is really beautiful. I love the natural light coming from the back which during the day I bet gives the village a daytime appearance that feels and looks natural. Then with the light coming from the village and those coming from the Christmas lights in the front the nighttime appearance is equally impressive.

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Here is another beautiful display by Elena Pita – Love the display and they added decorations around are great also – really makes it feel like you are home for Christmas.



This is a design by Daniel Geis – He writes: ‘Thanks for the idea. I talked to the guy I bought it from and he said it was 1970’s era ladder. It needed some work and sanding. The wood for the shelves I got for free and all I did was sand, cut, and stain. Here are the pics and hopefully they send in order.”


 Terrie Coleman  sent in the following photos and text: ‘The pictures of the ladders are wonderful. I have been looking at them since last Christmas and knew I just had to do this! I found my wooden ladder at a thrift store for $12.  Purchased the wood for the shelves at Home Depot and I had someone cut it. I stained the ladder myself. But I didn’t put stain on the shelves since I was going to put snow on them. I already had most of the villages but I did get a few more while thrifting.  I have received so many compliments on my ladder. I plan to continue expanding and perfecting it. I hope you can see the pictures clearly and I do hope you post them.  Thank!’

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92 Responses to Christmas Tree Decorating Idea Ladder Display Shelf

  1. Anonymous says:

    Where can you find a wooden ladder?


  2. Cindy Burkey says:

    Is it possible to purchase this ladder from somewhere or someone? I have no way of building it.


  3. Kathy H. says:

    What is the length of each shelf cut?


  4. Mark says:

    We found our ladder on Craig’s list and are sanding it down and staining it. My wife collected the Precious Moments village as a child and it will be displayed on the ladder. I am also going to build a board for the ladder to sit on with an H.O. scale train running around the ladder base.


  5. Judy Artz says:

    This is awesome! We are creating it for a live auction item to benefit PAWS a no kill non profit animal adoption center. So excited to find this – got the ladder donated when we told someone what we were doing. Question: What is at the far right of the middle shelf and at the far left on the shelf next to the bottom? They appear round – but I can’t quite distinguish the details. Thanks for the very great idea!


    • Those are large glass ornaments put there as filler but adds come splash of color. I am so excited to hear about your project. When you are done I would love for someone to submit an article with pictures for a full story and I will through in links for you as well. Can’t wait to see your final project!


  6. Anonymous says:

    I really want to try this, did you drill holes for the lights attached to the house or just run the wires under the snow, I see the ones around the ladder think I can handle that lol, I also have lots of nutcrackers from around the world,not sure if it would work for them because of the different heights


    • Nutcrackers would look really neat – the taller ones could go towards the base in the front to display – I have several myself and love your idea – the lights were placed on the shelf going across using a staple gun that is equipped with the option to leave a space under the staple which allows a cable to be put down with the staples and not cut into – but you could use cable holders (the ones you would use to secure the cables of things in your home along baseboards) – send a picture of your finished design – can’t wait to see it


  7. Mary Jo Brough says:

    My wooden ladder does not have a corresponding step on the other side. How do you secure the wooden shelf on the other side?


    • If the wood that you have to go across is the exact width of the inside of the ladder you could use corner brackets with one end on the inside of the ladder and the other side on the shelf – I think that would be all you need as long as the screws are nice and tight – send pics please when your display is all done


  8. Dana says:

    I love this idea, I’m doing it for every holiday. it looks really cute with the goblins and pumpkins and ghost and the colored lights for Halloween, and for Easter with some eggs and grass and bunnies.


  9. Kris says:

    I saw this awhile ago and have been holding on to the photo for a while. This weekend we found a 4ft ladder (could have gotten a 6ft but 4 was enough for us) at a barn sale for $5. We used wooden dowels for the back of the ladder. It was missing a rung and 2 of them were off from where I needed them. Bought wood at Home Depot and made them 46, 51, 58 and 64 inches, then painted it all red. Just need to wait until thanksgiving when we pull down the decorations. We will use it for my late mother in laws Christmas village that we plan to add to.


  10. Marlene says:

    I love this…just found a six foot wooden ladder at a thrift store for $5.00! Can not wait to start decorating!


  11. Natalie Macintyre says:

    Hi I was wondering what type of wood you used for the boards and also what the width and heigth is?
    Thank you so much what a wonderful Idea I am making this for my mother in law for christmas!


    • I used pine as it is soft and easy to use. As for the dimensions you would measure inside the ladder (parts going up) the rung going from one side to the other. This way the boards you purchase will be easy to assemble to make this great display.


  12. Laura Thomas says:

    We are making one of these from your picture. Painting is almost finished. We did not have this page until now (11/1) so only had the pic. But it’s going to be fine. Might cut our shelves a bit shorter after the holidays. Can you tell me what you used for snow? It looks very full and I’m wondering if it is good old rolled cotton.


    • You are right – we used rolled cotton and pulled the edges to ‘tear’ it to size. It was a little time consuming but the end result did not give us a uniform design which I did not want since we wanted a bit of a rustic design.


  13. Gina says:

    I love this and just purchased everything I need to start….Quick question though….Did you use Kilz on the ladder before painting it? What color/kind of paint did you use…(paint vs spray paint etc). Would love to know all the tips….. I can’t wait to finish


    • Hi, It does not show well in the picture but we wanted it to be slightly rustic. So we dry painted directly on wood with several coats until we got desired effects. We wanted a painted barn weathered look if that makes sense? If you wanted a clean painted look I would paint several coats of non-gloss enamel right to the wood. The two coats will soak into wood but third will start building up and give you the clean finished look you might be wanting.


  14. My Pastor at church asked me to decorate one of these. Could you please give me some more suggestions on what to use for the snow? Where did you get the cotton you pulled for yours?


    • What we used was pulled cotton we got at (I think) JoAnns. You could use batting from the snow that is made for under villages that runs for like 4.00, rolled batting etc. It looks better if you take the time to pull off all of the edges so you have no straight edges which makes it look bad (in my opinion). Hope this helps – and when you get it done send pictures so we can show others.


  15. Janet says:

    I am one of many that think this is a great idea! Just talked my Dad out of an old wooden ladder he had in the barn…can’t wait to get to work on it this weekend for my Christmas village display. One of the best ideas I have seen. Great job with your decorating.


  16. Devin says:

    how do you hide all of the chords that go to each village?


    • I used a staple gun which has the option to staple over cables and provide a little indent so the cord won’t be crushed! I put them to the back of the ‘shelf’ they were on and stapled them to the back edge. I then pulled them to the one side of the ladder and stapled them to the ladder going down. In other words the cords were kept to the back going all the way to the ground. When I do this again (especially a Halloween village) I will get the small strobe lights that can be kept on steady and fit them into each house. Since they run on batteries – no cords. They also have the tealight candles that run on batteries – this would mean no cords as well. Hope this helps!


  17. Pat Farley says:

    I created this ladder for displaying my Fontanini nativity. I painted the ladder brown and used burlap strips instead of snow (of course!). I would post a picture but can’t find a way to do that on this site. For my first ever wood working project, it turned out pretty well! I love the idea and it’s great for saving space!


  18. Angela says:

    Is each plank the same width on each step or do the get wider top to bottom?


  19. Carol Falcone says:

    I have my ladder and boards ready to start painting. What do I use for the rustic look?


    • If you want it to look rustic like barn wood on the raw wood use a dry brush dip into paint color and then brush a piece of cardboard/board that is scrap. You don’t want to put a lot of paint on so the original color shows through. Then brush the ladder and wood with the brush.

      You might want to stain the new lumber and ladder a similar color to give some unification to the project before – you could also solid paint the wood shelves and ladder and then proceed to the first paragraph.

      Hope this helps!


  20. Lisa says:

    I have my shelving and ladder ready to go. Two questions, how can I hide the metal piece that locks the ladder sides? Did you fasten the shelving to the ladder rungs for security?


    • Yes we pre-drilled two holes for each rung of the ladder. We hand screwed screws into the holes. We know these villages can get costly and we would not want them falling. By the way where the ladder hits the floor we used a two by four to go across from side to side (same direction as the rungs of the ladder) to give the ladder less chance of falling back or coming forward. It came four inches to either side to give it a set of feet. To cover the metal I would suggest enamel paint close to the ladders color or latex with a polyurethane coating. If you are going for a rustic ladder you might think burlap ribbon or wrapping twine around and around to cover. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.


  21. Kasey says:

    Wonderful idea! I ordered my 6 ft. ladder today from True Value and they offer free ship to store- can’t wait to get started! I cannot find the size of the base spread to buy a cute Christmas rug. Do you have that measurement? Thank you for the great idea!


  22. Susan McDonald says:

    We are making this today! Soooo excited to see it finished! We had our own very old wood ladder. Its going to have so much character… Will post pictures.


  23. Anonymous says:

    Got my ladder painted. Will post after it’s decorated


  24. Finished our ladder yesterday. Sent photos to the email address you previously provided. It turned out amazing! Thanks again for sharing your idea… Merry Christmas!


  25. Joan says:

    I am putting up my village. Did you use 2 strands of lights? If not how many? I love this idea. I have been looking for a good idea. My husband lived putting up his village.


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  27. Donna Hill says:

    A friend of my husband used this picture to make me a ladder like this for my Christmas villages. It’s all painted and I just strung the lights on it. It didn’t turn out as deep a red as this but I figured we can repaint it for next year. What color of red paint did you use? Valspar classic is not deep enough. I will send a picture as soon as I finish decorating it.


    • I am not sure what color we used but I was going for more of a painted barn red color so it looked rustic. We painted on a raw wood ladder so it had no polish on it which allowed the paint to soak into the wood. I usually buy the standard brand of paint from Lowe’s as I really enjoy the quality of it but not sure of the brands name. Can’t wait to see pictures.


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  29. Clair Borgioli says:

    we just got our 6 ft ladder and my husband sprayed it green for me..I am so excited to see the finish project. I do have a question, did you paint all the boards going across and if so both sides?


  30. Daniel G says:

    I’m a 17 year old kid and I got the ladder on Dec. 15th and I just finished it today on Dec 18th so it’s a very easy project. My mom showed me this a couple months a go and I decided to surprise her because there is never enough room for a full village. It required about 15-16 hours of work depending on the condition of the ladder itself. Luckily I also got all the shelf wood for free. My ladder was is a poor state which is why it took so long. Overall it came out fantastic and was a great idea. I took pictures step by step if you are interested (just send an email)


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  32. Jeff Sapp says:

    My steps are uneven. How do I level the shelves?


    • Can you send a picture? How uneven are they? Would shims work on one side to bring it up? I have leveled items before using those cheap wood yardsticks you can buy in the paint department. If you think that would work glue sections of the yardstick to the rung of the ladder until you get a decent leveling. You could cut this with an old steak knife if you have nothing else available! Let me know if I can help further!!!


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  35. JR BENDEKOVICS says:



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  37. Annetta McCallister says:

    We have a aluminum ladder. Why couldn’t we use it.


  38. Raymond Valled says:

    I have done this for a few yrs now


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  40. maria cruz says:

    Love I never saw anything like it is gorgeous congratulations to


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  45. Barbara Daniel says:

    We are wanting to do this is there directions for size of boards and how to attach. Also want to maybe use an aluminum ladder.


    • Hi,
      The width of the board depends on the area you are placing it. On a six foot ladder with six step and a top we used (from bottom to top): 6′ 5′ 4′ 3′ 2′ 1′ and on the top we used 3 quarters of a foot. The depth of course is measured from the inside step width. We used wood that was 3/4″ thick and used 1 1/4″ wood screws to fasten. Drill starter holes so wood does not split. If you are using an aluminum ladder you will want to drill through the wood and aluminum step and attach bolt and nut long enough to go through and give it the ability to fasten tightly. Aluminum ladders can have less weight then wooden. On our wooden ladder we screwed the bottom of the ladder onto a piece of wood that extended six inches on all sides. We covered it as well with snow material. This gave us a better chance of it not falling. I would definitely do this with a lighter aluminum ladder. Hope this helps!


  46. Liz says:

    Can I get the dimensions of the boards for the ring? Is it easier to spray paint of paint? What kind of paint did people use?


  47. Carolyn says:

    In the process of getting ready. I purchased a display unit with 3 shelves, will add a couple more. I will display the replicates of the 1930 type cardboard buildings. Can’t wait to see it finished.


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