Every year, I build a village under our Christmas tree from scratch, using different materials and themes.

2009 Tanner Christmas Tree

For many years I used LEGO to create such villages as 'Pirates of the Christmas-be-an', 'A Tour of Jackhannesburg', and 'Christmas on Hoth'.

All aboard "Clue: Murder on the Boddy Express"

I then shifted to a couple other building systems including old-school Hot Wheels track for 'A "Cars" Christmas' and last year's Lincoln Log-inspired 'Frontier M&M's Christmas'.

Video: Take a tour of the Clue village

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This year I went a bit more abstract and built a village using elements from my vast Clue boardgame collection. Given that Clue is a rather two-dimensional game, there weren't a lot of props like buildings and people to use in this setting.

Yes, we even have Boddy Mansion

However, I was able to lift the mansion backdrop from Clue FX to be the anchor, followed by various flat houses from Clue Mysteries. A couple of editions of Clue also came with pawns that were miniature sculpts of the characters, so they were the "people" in the village.

Look, a tunnel!

Finally, I pulled out cards from various editions showcasing the traditional suspects as well as some "extras" and mocked them up around the village to literally give the setting some character! At one point, I did a tribute to Miss Scarlett showcasing all the different visual interpretations that character has received over the years. And of course no Clue-inspired village would be complete without murder weapons spread all over!

Tribute to Miss Scarlett

As always, I had my LEGO train set running on a loop through the village, complete with a tunnel. The train is an anchor of the village every year… and we just somehow rewrite the storyline as to why it exists in a Clue-inspired world. This year, the obvious "Murder on the Orient Express" overtones made it pretty easy.

Travel Clue and notepads on side of tunnel

It was a quick-and-fun theme to do this year… but I don't think it sets a trend. I'm not doing "A Connect Four Christmas" next year!