First Comes Halloween

Yes, here at Christmas Place, we do Halloween too – we do it the Department 56 way, with lights and animation and only the occasional scream from the ghosties and beasties!  Sure, there’s a bit of headlessness, and you’ll find a witch and a bat and a black cat or two.  Oh – lots of skeletons, not to be forgotten!  The amusement park attractions – hmmm, more amusing to some than to others .. but it’s all in good fun.  I only wish we kept the display stocked with bowls of my favorite, candy corn!

Take a tour of our [Halloween village] – there’s poetry in the day for you, too.

You probably saw a few houses and accessories you’d like to add to your own village.  We’d love to help you dream up some creative ways to display your spooky favorites this year!  The newest product that hasn’t even shipped yet is labeled “out of stock” on our website, but you can still add it to your cart – we’ll backorder and ship it to you later, no worries.

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S. Our Department 56 Signing weekend is November 5th & 6th – mark your calendar and make plans to come meet one of their talented designers!  Do we have to mention door prizes and the secondary market?

Department 56 is Now Under Construction

We’re already wrapping up day three four of our construction adventure, and the results so far are spectacular!

Jill Shlung, a designer who works with Department 56 on their showrooms and other special projects, is in the store through Saturday.  She’s rebuilding our Dickens’ Village and North Pole displays, and giving tips to guests all along the way.  We’re also drawing door prizes every day this week, and our already-reduced Department 56 merchandise is an additional 10% off through this Saturday only.

On Friday night and Saturday, June 6th and 7th, she will give three free seminars to our guests!  Friday from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. she’ll talk about “Waterfalls, Tunnels, Caves & More.”  Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon her topic will be “Creating a North Pole Village.”  Also on Saturday, from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m., she will share “Village Techniques.”   Late breaking update:  due to travel plans, the afternoon seminar will have to be cut a bit short, so come early so we can get plenty of info before Jill has to leave!

Come and learn more about creating displays with your own favorite collectibles.

Here’s a little photo gallery of our progress, from our staff gearing up for a week of construction to Jill’s results through early Thursday afternoon.

You are now entering the construction zone!

Monday morning, Dickens’ Village is nowhere in site.

The elves are appropriately attired for the construction zone in hard hats – but with a little elfin flair, of course!!

Clearance collectibles are ready to fly off the shelves!

And the reconstruction is well under way…start by gathering a few miles of Styrofoam and some knives for cutting, as well as some interesting props – notice the decorative suitcases stacked in the corner, to give height variations to the display.

Add a couple of days of labor, and look what you get – a glowing display of narrow streets lined with houses and people and all the architectural and landscaping details that depict life in Charles Dickens’ time. I happen to really like the streaky, atmospheric light effects on the trees…my colleague says I just need to clean the camera lens.  What does he know.

Take special note of the wreaths back-dropping the village – the clocks in each one are a new addition from Dept. 56 this year – the time on each one is set at 5 to 6, of course.

Later on, we’ll have detailed instructions and photos showing how the sparkling stream and waterfall were created – and I believe Jill will be sharing this technique on Friday night, too.

Now, on to the North Pole.

And a few more miles of Styrofoam.  Hey, who’s that paparazzi photo-bombing my shot??

Jill is always happy to take a moment to describe what she’s doing, so be sure to ask if you have any questions.

We’ll be video taping the seminars to share later, but if you have the chance, we know you’ll enjoy coming in person to watch, learn, and ask questions (and maybe we’ll pick your name for a prize).  If you can’t come, though, feel free to send us your questions via Facebook, Twitter, or even e-mail to santa@christmasplace.com – we’ll be sure to get answers for you!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  You’ll find more pictures of the event on our Facebook and Instagram accounts, so check them out – and we’d love to see YOUR pictures, too – just use #MyVillage or #ChristmasPlace – we would like to share them with our community.

P.P.S.  Remember, click twice on a picture to see the full size image.

Snowbabies!

It has been more than 25 years since Kristi Jensen Pierro first revived the Snowbabies collectible with her simple, sweet drawings and bisque figurines for Department 56.  In the tradition of figures dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, she draws inspiration from her own life experiences, photos, and stories expressed through designs reflecting the activities of small children.  Many years later, her designs continue to gain popularity as her themes have kept up with modern society – like “Spa Date” and “Zero Calorie Cupcake” – wouldn’t we love both of those in real life?!  Here are some photos from releases this year.  In addition to updated themes, Snowbabies now frequently come with colorful knit accessories and glittering accents.  The Snowbabies themselves are generally about 3″ to 4″ tall – don’t be fooled by these larger-than-life photographs.

"Flash Drive"

Wedding Snowbabies

Snowbabies celebrate a very classy Christmas!

A Very Deer Pair

SnowDreams - adding a little glitter for the holidays!

Animals are often featured in the Snowbabies collection – especially the polar variety!

This snowman is lit from within for a warm glow on a winter's night.

Snowbabies Baby - we can personalize many of these for a new wee addition to the family!

Snowbabies also come from many popular children’s stories and personalities, such as The Wizard of Oz, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Cinderella,  Winnie the Pooh, Kermit & Miss Piggy, Mickey & Minnie Mouse, and more.

The Tin Man

You will also find Snowbabies around at Easter time with decorated eggs and cute little bunnies.

"Somebunny Special"

Snowbabies are also made in a wide variety of ornaments (many of which we will personalize for you here in the store!).  The glittering shadow box series is new in red this year.

Shadow Box Ornaments

You’ll often find Snowbabies collections on display year round.  Made from porcelain bisque with hand-painted faces and hand-applied detailing, each is meticulously crafted – and very charming!  Those unique “snow crystals” are made by a process of forcing a clay mixture through a series of increasingly fine screens until the right shaving stage is achieved.  Each figure is then painted with a bisque slip and the shavings are carefully applied in the proper areas.
The variety of styles in both figurines and ornaments, including many angel-themed pieces, make Snowbabies a wonderful gift for so many occasions – new baby, girlfriend fun, family events, and, of course, at Christmas.  There are also several varieties of accessory trees in colors to compliment the Snowbabies series.  Take a closer look at these delightful babies and their friends – you just might meet a new friend yourself!
Keep it snowy!
~Janet @ The Christmas Place
P.S.  Don’t forget our Department 56 artist signing on Saturday, November 2nd, with Scott Enter.  Although he designs primarily for the village collection, as a representative of Department 56’s creative team, he will sign Snowbabies on request.  Details will be posted on our Event Calendar next week.

Boo!

Did I scare you?!  Well, Halloween is only 92 days away!

Yes, I know we are a Christmas store .. but some of the other holidays still sneak in on us, too.  One of our most popular displays is the Department 56 Snow Village Halloween – a dark little corner of our store upon which Elf Yvonne has lavished much loving care and attention.  Take a look.  (To see the full-size picture, click on the image two times.)

I know what you’re thinking – “if we could just get rid of that pesky desire to eat at a table/sit on a sofa from time to time, wouldn’t the dining/living room be just the perfect spot to create our permanent Halloween village?!  Best use of space.  EVER.”  Yeah, we get that a lot.

We can’t really help you with that, but we’ll keep showing you what could be!  There are several series within the Halloween Village, and here are the latest haunting additions.

Haunted Rails "Jack & His Lanterns", powered by the Engine in this collection.

 

Witch Hollow - Three Witches Cauldron Haunt - the cauldrons change color!

 

Trick-Or-Treat Lane - The Pumpkin House - lined with Jack-o-Lanterns.

Haunted Rails - Blood Creek Jailhouse - Population recently reduced to 13...

 And the Haunted Rails Grain Elevator, highlighted by a rat on the roof and more munching on the grain and generally enjoying the run of the place.  Ick.  Just ick.

Featuring the art work of Travis Louie, Dolly's World of Hypnosis

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Dolly, sister, you have got yourself some issues!

Now, for the sake of a certain elf who shall remain nameless (Penny) but who has a well-documented clown phobia (Penny), I am refraining from showing here The Clown House of Terror.  I’ll just say that it includes one scary-looking clown face (sorry, Penny)!

The Department 56 Halloween collection includes the most whimsical (if not some down right freaky) accessories, too!  Witches, skeletons, The Grim Reaper, The Headless Horseman, tombstones, crypts, and the versatile Foggy Point Platform that generates a ghostly mist – details like these will really bring your village of the dead .. to life.  Can I say it that way?

As the catalog says, here’s hoping you “Scare up a perfectly decorated Holiday” – with shivers of Halloween delight!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

 P.S.  It’s only 146 sleeps ’til Christmas!  If you’re shopping for a new Christmas tree this year, we’re offering FREE SHIPPING to U.S. continental destinations – but only for a limited time.

 

So Many Pictures, So Little Time!

Just about every week, our Department 56 elves are reporting the fun of helping families begin new Department 56 collections.  Parents are encouraging their kids to each select a village to collect – and with eight official “villages”, collections within villages, Winters Frost, and classic brands like Mickey’s Christmas, A Christmas Story, Peanuts, The Grinch, and the newest – Christmas Vacation and The Simpsons – there is quite a lot from which to choose… and I could go on.

Here are some of the beautiful collection photos taken by Department 56 for their 2013 releases – many of these houses and accessories are already here in the store, and the pieces that won’t be delivered till after September are available to order now.  You can even order from our online store and tell us to hold them for the artist signing on November 2nd – we added this new feature to the site just last month.  (More about the signing down below.)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Yes, I still own a strand of those big, super-hot Christmas bulbs!  And in homage to that infamous trip to pick out the tree….

Snow Village Harley Davidson - new Roadside Cabins

Coca-Cola Collection - love that classic Santa Claus!

This spectacular model of the famous Chrysler Building in New York City is one of the largest pieces Department 56 has ever made, at over 22″ tall.  Featuring chrome plating on the top spire and both interior and exterior LED lighting, you’ll keep this one on display year round.  The Chrysler Building, completed after a competitive race to build skyscrapers in 1930, still stands today as the world’s tallest brick building.

The Chrysler Building, Christmas In The City - staged on a mirror for added drama - ingenious.

 From the New England Village, The Dirty Owl tavern is wonderfully detailed and colorful, with a very warm glow about it.

New England Village

Dickens Village - love the blue pebble stream!

 There’s an ever-so-slightly-haunting subseries to the New England Village called “Salem Willows,” depicting some of the history of Salem, Massachusetts.  I kinda like these spooky-ish houses.

New England Gables

My favorite is next – this glittering collection is the easiest to display, as trees and accessories are all mounted together on one base – just plug in and enjoy.

Winters Frost - enough glitter to keep me happy!

What about the more whimsical collections, you ask?  North Pole Village has some of the cutest little pieces this year!

North Pole Village

Grinch Village

Disney Village

Don’t forget one of the most enduring classics of Christmas – Rudolph!

Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer - with Rudolph, Clarice, Sam, Bumble, Santa - but wait, where's Yukon Cornelius?!

And one of the more recent classics…

A Christmas Story - we have that lamp .. with a red shade!

Now, back to our fall artist signing event – on Saturday, November 2nd, designer Scott Enter will be here at Christmas Place from 12:30 until 3:00 p.m. to sign the houses that you purchase – and a few Snowbabies, if you like.  Scott is the creative force behind The Original Snow Village and many other pieces.  We will have so many pieces for him to sign that weekend that we must limit him to houses, not the smaller accessories (like people).  It’s always fun to talk with the designer about his inspiration and vision for the villages, and to swap ideas with other collectors as well.  You will also want to enter our drawings for door prizes each hour.

On both Saturday and Sunday, November 2nd and 3rd, we’ll host our annual Secondary Market Sale in the courtyard.  This is where collectors rent tables and sell retired pieces from their own collections – and it’s a great opportunity to hunt for those elusive pieces that will complete your own collection.  You collectors know how much fun it is to get together with those who share your interest in these beautiful lighted houses – and perhaps pick up some new display tips along the way.

If you would like to rent a table for the weekend, please contact Teresa Hughes at 1-800-445-3396, extension 148.  She has all the details about the Secondary Market sale.

So circle the first weekend in November as an important date to visit Christmas Place!  If an in-person visit is not possible, then shop on-line with us and you can still have your houses signed.  You can also give us a call at 1-800-445-3396; our Guest Services team would be happy to help you with a mail order.

Building a family collection and working together to set up a holiday (or year-round) display of your favorite pieces is a rewarding way to spend time forming those family traditions that will be treasured for a lifetime and beyond.  These beautiful houses are definitely to be shared from each generation to the next, and can be the foundation for many of your most treasured holiday memories.

Happy collecting!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Tomorrow – the Halloween collection!

Animated Specials from Department 56

Animated Toy Stores

Long-time Department 56 collectors will be expecting to see special gift sets in the mid-year collection, but they’ve done something different this year.  Instead of sets, they are offering the cutest animated toy stores for three villages – Snow Village, Dickens Village, and North Pole Village.

“Toy Town Toys” in The Original Snow Village is brightly-lit, and animated with a rotating miniature Christmas tree visible through the shop’s windows.

“Tegan’s Toy Shoppe” in Dickens Village has a rotating display of Victorian toys suspended from a tower in front of the store.

The colorful North Pole Village addition, “Jolly Fellow Toy Company,” shows its wares on a rotating carousel visible through the shop’s brightly-lit windows.

Christmas In The City

The most striking building Department 56 has introduced to date, in our humble opinion, is the over 22″ tall Chrysler Building, a masterpiece of Art Deco architecture.  This reproduction is highlighted with chrome plating, and LED interior lighting and exterior spotlights enhance the building’s famous terraced spire – a very glamorous look, this would be grand as a stand-alone piece!  Before completion of the real structure in May 1930, the spire was secretly added by pushing it up from the inside – a bid to win the race to build New York City’s tallest skyscraper.  It held onto this status until the completion of the Empire State Building a year later.  It still stands as the world’s tallest brick building.  (Figures shown in the picture are sold separately.)

 New!  “The Simpsons” Collection

Fans of the longest-running adult animated sitcom will be delighted to find Homer and family hanging out with Department 56 this year – just in time for their 25th anniversary in 2014!

Snow Village Halloween

The Halloween village collection is one of the most popular lines for Department 56, and with so many colorful, creative, and ghoulishly-whimsical pieces, it’s easy to understand the appeal.  “Jack and His Lanterns” is the latest car added to the Haunted Rails series, powered by being attached to the engine.

Nov. 2nd Dept 56 Artist Store Visit

The best thing is that you can pre-order any of these buildings, and we will hold them for you until our November 2nd signing with designer Scott Enter, and ship them after the event!  Signed houses have a much higher value over time.  (We do not offer signing of accessory items such as the people pictured here.)  Of course, if you’re in the area, we want you to come to the store and meet Scott in person – he enjoys talking with collectors about the pieces and displays that most excite them.  We add to the fun with hourly door prizes and our annual weekend Secondary Market Sale in the courtyard, where other collectors sell retired pieces from their own collections.

There’s a lot going on in Department 56, and we are enjoying helping many families start their own collections, a tradition that will be passed down through the generations and make each Christmas (or Halloween) a more memorable time.  Come see what’s happening, and get in on the excitement!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  We’ll be adding artist signings to our calendar soon, so check the “Visit Us – Event Calendar Page” for information.

Department 56 Signing {Updated}

It’s happening tomorrow, November 3rd!

Scott Enter, building designer, will be in the store from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. to sign Department 56 houses and collectibles.  We’ll also have a village display expert, Jill Schlung, on hand with expert tips for setting up your perfect village.

Dickens' Christening Holiday Gift Set

Door Prizes!

Both Saturday & Sunday, we’ll be drawing for {hourly} door prizes, too.

Secondary Market Tent Sale

Private collectors will be in our courtyard with their own collections of retired houses, selling to the public.  Have you been looking for some older houses to add to your collection?  Now is the time to shop – none of these items are in production with Department 56, they are only available through private sales like this.

Come and meet the designers and fellow collectors, take photos and gather ideas for your village or Snowbabies collection, and maybe you’ll be one of the winners going home with a door prize, too!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. All our Department 56 displays have been refreshed this year – I am personally a fan of the Winters Frost collection, and you’ll love our gorgeous display!  There is a signed Cottagewood Bungalow in my near future…

P.P.S. – This entry has been corrected – I mistakenly listed yesterday that you have to make a purchase to enter the door prize drawing – but you don’t.

Department 56 Snow Village

Our Department 56 diva has begun setting up the new village pieces for 2012.  I thought I’d offer a sneak peek at what she has been up to, starting with Snow Village.  Please don’t tell her I did this, because I know she’s not totally finished yet and she may try to hide my beloved camera from me for this!

(It helps to have some terrific artists on staff for the backgrounds.)

We know that some of you keep your villages on display all year round, too, not just at Christmas.  If you’ve had fun with a particular display, share your tips with us and the rest of our readers.  It’s amazing how creative you can be with these lighted houses and accessories.  I’m a fan of the tall bookcase with houses interspersed among books and other collectibles on the shelves.

We’re planning to film a brief video demonstration of each village collection (brief, ha!  Have you ever gotten that girl started talking about all she knows about D56?!) to offer to our viewers in a few weeks.  If there’s something in particular you’d like to know more about, leave your request in the comments and we will put it on the production list.  She’s promised to share some designer secrets that you can easily do at home.  Then you can send us your own village pics for our customer scrapbook (over on Facebook).

And speaking of Department 56, the date has been set for our artist signing this year – Scott Enter will visit the store on Saturday, November 3rd, from 12:30 to 3 p.m.  We’ll also have our Secondary Market tent sale for retired pieces on Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3-4th.  If you’d like to rent a table and bring your collection to sell, call Teresa Hughes at 800-445-3396, extension 148.  There is still space available right now.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Remember, please don’t tell her that I showed you these pictures – but feel free to steal any of our ideas!

Are you ready for the weekend?!

We sure are!  It’s going to be super busy here at Christmas Place.  I think we’ll have something for everyone this weekend.

  • Department 56 Signing with Barbara Lund, lead building designer.  Have you checked out the exclusive Partridge & Pear?  The design was based on our very own restaurant!  The signing is Saturday from 12:30 to 3:30 – the first 50 customers to purchase a Department 56 collectible will receive a free gift!  We’ll also have two door prizes – a set of 5 mini Dickens village houses (ornaments) that have been introduced and retired this year, signed by Barbara; and a copy of “A Christmas Carol” signed by the great-great-grandson of the author, Gerald Charles Dickens.  Total value – $250!
  • Department 56 Secondary Market, Saturday & Sunday in our courtyard.  56 collectors will be selling retired pieces from their own private collections – it’s a good way to fill in the gaps with your village collection.
  • TrollBeads Trunk Show – The Boutique at Christmas Place is holding its second fall trunk show – lots of bead, clasp, and bracelet specials.  They offer a universal bead, too, that fits many popular bracelet styles.  Shop today through Sunday!
  • Radko Ornament signing with Mario Tare.  Christopher Radko, the founder, has been gone from the company for several years, and Mario was his designer for several years even before Christopher left.  Mario is a really charming and delightful designer – you’ll love this opportunity to meet him and get his signature on the newest Radko ornaments.  Meet Mario from 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Byers’ Choice Carolers – Bob Byers, current president, will be here on Sunday & Monday for a signing of his company’s collection of delightful caroler figurines.  He’s also bringing a very exclusive giveaway with him – a Polish Star Santa caroler that is not available in the market place, and is signed by Joyce Byers, the founder & Bob’s mother.  Meet Bob on Sunday between 3 and 5 p.m., and on Monday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Meet Gerald Charles Dickens, the great-great-grandson of the literary master Charles Dickens!  Gerald will be in the store on Sunday and Monday to sign copies of “A Christmas Carol.”  He is also performing in 3 shows at The Inn at Christmas Place.  Sunday and the Monday matinée shows are sold out, but we still have tickets available for an 8:00 p.m. Monday night performance – call MJ Pappas at 800-465-9644 to purchase show tickets.  Better yet, purchase Dinner & Show tickets!  Have dinner at The Partridge & Pear Restaurant then enjoy Gerald’s one-man enactment ofA Christmas Carol.  It’s an evening you will not want to miss.  This is Gerald’s second appearance at The Inn at Christmas Place – and we plan to welcome him again next year for the 200th anniversary of A Christmas Carol.
  • Floral Demonstration – on Saturday afternoon, our amazing floral design team will host another demonstration session, on how to decorate a mesh box.  I think they include a little tutorial on bow-tying with this demo.  Get ready for Christmas decorating!

We’re also having two sales here at the store right now – Decorative Christmas Lights – buy one, get a second for half price; and Decorative Garland – buy two, get a third strand free!  Also, while they last, every purchase over $100 receives a free gift.

If you’re anywhere in the area this weekend, be sure to come on in – you know, we’re also giving free steam engine train rides on our miniature train in the parking lot this weekend – I almost forgot!

Okay, after all that, I’m gonna need about a pound of fudge to regain my strength .. the Candy Kitchen is now making their famous Pumpkin flavor .. See y’all later!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

What’s New? A Lot!

When you come to the store for you next visit, you may not recognize us – except for all the beauty, of course!  We’ve got that and are adding more every day .. but the elves have been so busy this winter & spring rearranging, it’s like a new store!

Just a teaser of a couple of pictures to start things off .. here’s my new favorite tree in its “naked” state:

Have you ever seen one this white and lush?  When you come, it will be transformed into an undersea vision of Christmas!

Over in Department 56, we’re getting in lots of new products as well.  Here’s one tiny peek into how the process begins when we rebuild a display from the ground up.

Lots of possibilities.  Does it fill you with anticipation to see the finished display??  I think this is the new home of North Pole Village.

Here’s another favorite of mine – the Winters Frost collection.

Look at how our designer, Kristy, has amplified the cool factor by filling a crackled glass urn with icy white lights and using it as the base for a house.  She did it again in this scene for the new Snowbabies “SnowDream” collection – Snowbabies highlighted with vintage silver glitter.  A  mirror framed in silver and used as a table top reflects the sparkle and brilliance of these figurines, and two votive candle holders turned on end display a couple of charming Snowbabies at different heights so each is a standout – copy this trick at home!

Here are a few more SnowDream pieces displayed on glass bricks (hmmm, we just pulled several of these bricks from a house- now I know why we need to keep them around!).  I love the Dream Glitter House, Barn, & Church accessory sets – each set includes a building, one tree, and an accessory figurine.

I’d better not show much more until the designers are finished with their handiwork – the final displays will be brilliant, though, I predict!  Next week I’ll show some pictures of Santa’s newly redecorated performance stage, including the animated reindeer flying overhead.  The kids will be enchanted!

Happy Collecting!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place