SMITHFIELD, Utah — Verna Trappett’s Christmas village collection began in 1989 with a chapel. Now the gift the Smithfield woman received almost 30 years ago is part of a tiny town of more than 400 structures that permanently reside in one of her spare bedrooms.

“I have stories with just about everything,” Trappett said. “How I got them, where they came from.”

A small nativity scene from Guatemala was given to Trappett by a friend. One of the lighthouses she has was left on her porch.

A hand-painted collection of homes came from a woman who didn’t want to display them in her house anymore. A homemade park was created for her by one of her sons and named Hancock Park, after Trappett’s maiden name.

Trappett said as she has built her collection over the years, most of her pieces have come to her as gifts or have been bought at thrift stores.

She used to only display the villages during December, but as the collection grew it became more work to put out.

“Three years ago I woke up in the night,” Trippett said, “and I thought, ‘Why not use that room you aren’t using?'”

Trippett moved the collection into a spare bedroom where it is now permanently housed. She said this is when the collection really took off and became what it is today.

A sign on the door to this room now welcomes visitors to Tiny Town. A guestbook outside tracks those who have stopped by. Trappett welcomes not only her family to visit the collection but neighbors and other community members as well.

She said she has had youth groups come for activities and couples stop by on dates.

Trappett’s daughter-in-law Donilyn Leary said she remembers years ago when the collection first began and the village pieces were set up by the Christmas tree in Trappett’s living room.

“Over the course of the last 30 years,” Leary said, “it has grown from one table to two tables to three tables to it outgrew the living room and it could no longer be displayed in the living room, to what you see today.”

One of the things Leary loves about Tiny Town is the connections it has to all of Trappett’s family.

“My daughter a few years ago got a little Yorkipoo puppy,” Leary said. “Not too long after my daughter got this little dog, a new little dog ended up in Tiny Town.”

Leary is a teacher and loves the schools in the town. Leary’s husband likes hunting, so a specific area of the town has been created to be a hunter’s paradise.

In Tiny Town there is a herd of moose because they are a favorite of one of Trappett’s daughters-in-law. A granddaughter loves horses so there is a heard of those too.

“She really tries to figure out how she can incorporate everybody’s interests and everybody’s life in there,” Leary said.

The inspiration for the street and neighborhood names come from Trappett’s children and their spouses and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. All of these little signs were made by one of Trappett’s sons.

Leary said the town is something everyone loves to explore when they come to visit.

“My children are all grown and raised now,” Leary said, “but even when they go back to see Grandma, they still want to check out Tiny Town, and they want to see what Grandma has put new in there.”

Leary said people often talk about keeping Christmas all year long, but her mother-in-law has epitomized that idea.

“Not only through the little Christmas village,” Leary said, “but that spirit of peace and kindness.”

Information from: The Herald Journal,