Aiming to build some tradition this holiday season for you and your family? A Christmas tree train is a wondrous start. These holiday train sets harken back to years gone by, and yet they are still amazing to watch for both children and adults alike. In this post, you'll discover more on these Christmas decorations, get a layman's guide to the right electric train scale for your tree, and learn about the prices you should expect at retailers.

Christmas Tree Trains: Moving Magic For Your Holiday

Lionel Polar Express Train Set - G-GaugeIt's a dream of many a child (and quite a few adults, too) to have a toy train set circling the Christmas tree. It's an old school wonder. Those adults might feel nostalgic over the memories of having a Christmas tree train back when they were a kid. And for the youngsters, Hollywood holiday blockbusters like The Polar Express and the Harry Potter series have given electric trains new life at Christmas time.

It shouldn't be surprising. There's a magic surrounding both trains and the holiday season. One that pairs up very well and, together, grows into something more. It's something special to see a child's face light up when the Christmas tree is all aglow and the Christmas tree train is slowly circling upon its tracks, loaded up with all sorts of miniature goodies. They are a great way to bring the family together during the holidays - from their set up to that morning run on Christmas day.

Christmas tree trains come in many varieties, from cartoony sets perfect for young toddlers to more realistic looking trains appealing to older children and adults. Given the shortness of the track around a Christmas tree, these sets normally top out at four cars to eight cars depending on the scale (more on that below). Some of the sets include classic train cars (like a car full of coal), while others are decorated completely for the season featuring cars frosted in white carrying miniature Christmas trees and other holiday decorations. The choice of types is really dependent on your child's age and your Christmas decor style as a whole.

Lionel Polar Express Train Set - G-Gauge
Amazon Price: $149.95 $99.49 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 31, 2016)

Holiday Santa Express Christmas Train Set, 35 PIECE SET, REMOTE CONTROL RADIO TRANSMITTER OVER 20 FEET OF TRACKS 37290Toy Train Sizes: Scale Explained For The Layman

Electric trains for many people are a major year-long hobby, and with any hobby of this stature comes a language all its own. For the folks simply looking for a good Christmas tree train, that can be a bit daunting and even scare them off.

Typically, it's the scale sizes of toy trains that are sometimes listed on the packaging that give people pause. N, HO, O and G - for most people they're just letters, but for the hobbyist, they are an important key. Really, it's pretty easy, so don't let the letters scare you. Scale just refers to the size ratio between the electric train and the real train it models. Trains of different scales won't work on the same tracks, and accessories will be different too to keep the size proportions correct.

Without getting too technical with numbers, here are some guidelines for helping you choose the right scale for your Christmas tree train:

  • A G Scale train set is the biggest of the bunch. They are a great size for Christmas Tree trains as they can be seen from all over the room and little kids will be more comfortable playing with them. If you've got a smaller tree, though, or not a lot of room, this train may be a little too big.
  • An O Scale train is also a larger variety of train. These also make good Christmas tree trains for youngsters. They are about half the size of a G Scale train, so they are often easier to run under a medium-sized tree. 
  • An HO Scale train is the scale you probably most often see. There are many accessories out there for this sized electric train, making it a great one to collect for year after year. It's a perfect size for small and medium-sized trees. They're also good for families with older kids as, with all the available accessories, you can get really intricate with the scene you create.  
  • An N Scale train is very tiny. It's the size that many hobbyists lean towards as you can lay lots of track in a realistic way even in a limited space. As a Christmas tree train, this size is great for a tabletop Christmas tree, but for a normal sized one, it will just be too small. 

Note that some Christmas tree train packages will not mention scale sizes at all. In that case, just use your best judgement for the right size based off of the size of your tree and the amount of space you have under it.

Bachmann Trains Thomas with Annie and Clarabel Ready-to-Run HO Scale Train Set
Amazon Price: $159.99 $76.39 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 31, 2016)

Christmas Tree Train Prices

Frosty The Grand Arctic Express Train

You'll find these electric trains vary in price depending on their size, the amount of cars in the set, and the realism of the design. You'll find many four car sets, no matter the scale, starting at $50 and ranging up to around $100. These are all perfect as Christmas tree trains that you set up once a year to brighten up the holiday.

More specialized and intricate sets can jump up to more than $200. If you're looking for realism or have a very classically decorated home for the holidays (and budget is no object), then these can certainly add to the motif.

However you approach your Christmas tree train, the smiles they bring to the holidays are the best part of all. They really add a layer of tradition to your holidays, making the season all that more special.