OYLC Part II: Sorting Sets

Welcome to Part II of OYLC (Organizing Your Lego Collection)!
This section covers sorting out complete sets from bricks. If you finish or if this is not what you're looking for, feel free to browse the other sections of the series:
Part I: Sorting Bricks
Part III: Sorting Sets (Special Cases)
Part IV: Storing It All

To perform this step properly, all of your Lego bricks should be sorted, as directed in Part I. Next, find all of your instruction books and pick one to sort. If you don't keep your instructions, all you can do is see what pieces you recognize and look up instructions online (Brickset.com is an excellent resource).

It doesn't matter what set you start with, though you may wish to start with a small one while you get used to sorting. When I first started, I made the mistake of beginning with a massive set, and I quickly abandoned it in favor of a smaller one (I eventually finished the first, though).

The sorting process is simple, but very tedious and painstaking. All you need to do is follow the instructions and build the set, searching for each piece one at a time.
Note: It will take FAR less time if you previously sorted your pieces as discussed in Part I.
 If you cannot find a piece, feel free to move on and find the rest. However, make sure to write down every piece you do not find, so you know what set the piece goes to once you find it (or replace it).

This is my Discovery Mission to Mars set (7469), which I just recently sorted after ten years of being incomplete.
Another way to do this is to gather all pieces found in the inventory in the back of the instructions. While it is much more difficult to keep everything straight, it does work. This method is discussed more in Part III (link above).

As with most steps, you have some freedoms. You may keep all of your missing part lists in one place, or with each set. (You could also not document them at all, but I don't recommend doing that). If you get tired of working on one set, you can set it aside and work on another. How you work is up to you, but you must know that this step takes the longest of all, and it won't necessarily be easy.
When a set is sorted- either completely or partially- I recommend storing it so it will be out of the way. You can use a bag, a box, whatever works for you. I have stored sets in everything from shoe boxes to Ziploc bags to Clorox wipe containers. As long as they are out of your work space when not needed, it works.You should be fine if you have your bricks and instructions in one place.

Most importantly, don't get discouraged! This step can be VERY FRUSTRATING. If you need to take a break, do so whenever necessary. Try watching a movie or listening to music while you work. Good luck and happy building!

Lego Winter Village

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, I deem it acceptable to put up Christmas decorations. My biggest contribution to the decoration at my house is my Winter Village Lego sets. My collection currently consists of the Winter Village Toy Shop (10199), Winter Village Bakery (10216), Winter Village Post Office (10222), and Winter Village Cottage (10229). Over the last few years, the collection has grown more and more spectacular. The Cottage is the newest addition, acquired only a month ago. I do not yet own the Winter Village Market (10235), since I buy one per year and I'm a year behind. This is due to the fact that the Toy Shop completely sold out in the first year of its running, so I couldn't get it until the following year. To this day the Toy Shop is extremely desirable, fetching anywhere up to two hundred dollars or more online.
The display as seen from a low angle

The Post Office (left) and the Toy Shop (right) behind the
skating pond and massive Christmas tree.

The Cottage, flanked by an army of skiers and carolers

I love the Winter Village sets because they have such a festive feel, and each contributes something new to the setup. Each set (with the exception of the Market, which isn't exactly a "building"), includes a yellow light brick, which casts light through the windows and further enhances the atmosphere. In its current state, the display has everything from a community tree to an ice skating pond, with swarms of child minifigures running about.
Saxophone and banjo players occupy the gazebo from the Post Office

Legs stick out of a snow bank on the ice pond from the Bakery,
which was advertised to include "7.5 Minifigures".

Presents from multiple sets adorn the Toy Shop's tree

The Cottage, with its shed, igloo, and snow plow

The Cottage's shed features a firewood pile and chainsaw

Skaters enjoy the pond while a minifig with a snowball prepares
to ambush his unsuspecting prey

I threw in the Christmas Tree Stand, which was a promotional
set for 2013

The horse-drawn carriage from the Bakery delivers a tree

Another shot of the Toy Shop's tree

Four skiers: two from the Toy Shop, two from the Cottage

The mail truck from the Post Office

All in all, I think the Winter Village sets are a very worthwhile investment. When displayed together, they are quite a spectacle and will enhance the festivity of any setting. However, you may not want to shell out for a Toy Shop, as they are extremely expensive. (The same thing happened with the modular buildings; I don't think I'll ever get Cafe Corner). Be sure to enjoy your holiday season, and happy building!