Deck the Halls

A yuletide build from Gemini Tay!

Happy Holidays! What are you and your family celebrating? I personally will be enjoying Christmas - which can be fantastic, but it isn’t half stressful. Whether you’re the type to eat your own body weight in meat-wrapped meat, or to fall asleep in front of the fire and wake up with slightly charred socks, it’s a day that always leaves you feeling exhausted by the end - even if all you’ve done is contribute to a rapidly-growing pile of shiny paper on the floor that the cat is very upset by.

Now, it’s not that I hate Christmas, but I’m thinking that perhaps all of that would be slightly less exhausting if I lived in a mansion. Just imagine: a different carol playing in every room, a ten-foot tall tree in the hall, and perhaps I could just chuck a few extra coins in the gardener’s pay packet to get him to decorate the trees with tinsel and lights, since, you know, he’s already out there.

Alas, I do not live in a mansion. But if I did, it would look something like Gemini Tay’s festively festooned build, which is a Christmassy update to a previous build, based on the Vigo County Courthouse in Indiana.

“I don’t live in a mansion,” Gemini says, “but that doesn’t mean we don’t have fun candy cane lights, snowmen, and garlands decorating the house!”

With pine trees almost as tall as the building, a light dusting of snow and candy canes either side of the path, it’s safe to say that this meets my very strict Christmas standards. Good job, Gemini.

Gemini tells me that building this winter wonderland was all about creative thought. “Starting off I simply added a snow layer, and then started thinking about what would be different if the build was cold, the fountain for example, would be frozen, and the flowers would be gone.”

Once the ground was hidden beneath a blanket of the cold stuff, Gemini set out to add a veritable bucketload of decorations, enough to rival Santa's grotto. There are lots of snowmen - and not just your regular basic snowmen, either, but an entire family of snowpeople, with a snowmother decorating the tree, a snowfather with holly-topped hat, and teeny weeny snowchildren.

The archway at the entrance to the mansion, topped with an archer, was given a wreath of holly and plenty of garlands to transform it into a Christmas archway - and the archer himself was given a lovely Santa hat. As sweet as it is, none of it is overbearingly Christmassy, as Gemini points out - “I tried to keep a general theme throughout the build by using similar decorations on all the buildings, and just having small variations to keep it interesting. My goal was to bring in the Christmas theme without taking away from, or over-crowding, the original build.”

The mansion before it got 'Christmassed up'. Not so festive, but still impressive!

Once you’ve passed through the archway and made it to the main path, you’ll notice the tinsel on the trees, the candy canes either side of you, and the beautiful, iced-over fountain in the centre, and beyond that, the mansion itself. Gemini has added some enormous sandstone candles in the windows, again with little holly garlands around them, to make the mansion extra cosy.

“Don’t be hard on yourself when it doesn’t look flawless right away - you are always going to be harder on yourself than others.”

But, of course, the centrepiece in this Christmassy diorama is the gigantic Christmas tree, complete with gigantic pile of gigantic presents underneath. It’s apparently “very difficult” to build a realistic-looking Christmas tree from blocks, from making the branches look fluffy to adding a star on the top that actually looks like a star, and not like a big yellow square.

“If you want to add those extra details that really bring a lot of life, and interest to the build, you need to be able to make larger ornaments, and presents, having room to add in the details that you want is important.” That’s the reason Gemini decided to go with a huge tree - “although the scale does not fit with the build, it works well as a centrepiece and really brings the theme together.”

Though the Christmassy theming is obvious, what might not be apparent about this build is that the mansion itself was also entirely rebuilt to match the theme. “It was a completely different colour,” says Gemini. “Every block in the mansion had to be changed out to be bone, spruce and blue colours.”

Here's some handy side-by-side shots so we can see how this build got a Christmas makeover!

Here's some handy side-by-side shots so we can see how this build got a Christmas makeover!

It might sound like a lot of work - and it is - but redesigning and revisiting old builds is a good way to get better, Gemini says. “It allows you to reflect on your growth as a builder, and improve upon things. Not only can you improve, but coming back to a build allows you to include new ideas, that perhaps you had not thought of in the past, that make the build more interesting.”

If you’re looking for real-life Christmas decoration tips from Gemini Tay’s build, here’s what I’ve learned so far: rebuild your entire house, make sure your Christmas tree is ridiculously large, and don’t let your snowman get lonely. As for Minecraft tips? “Pick something that you are not so good at,” says Gemini. “Don’t be hard on yourself when it doesn’t look flawless right away - you are always going to be harder on yourself than others.”

And with that, I’m off to drink eggnog and rattle presents until I know exactly how fragile they are. Merry Christmas!

Written by
Kate Gray

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