Behind the … workshop walls! (Part 1)

Do you sometimes wonder what goes on around Christmas Place when you’re not here?  How do we elves spend our long winter days while Santa is away at the North Pole, or maybe the South Pole (or maybe even Florida, we can’t say for sure)?

Why, we do the same things you do in the winter!  We clean and we straighten up.  Check out this pristeen display of personalized family Christmas ornaments, just waiting to be discovered.

Personalizing Department wall with family ornaments on display.

And sometimes we move the furniture around.

Personalizing Department with sun streaming across empty floor space.

And we love to hide stuff from Santa!

Santaland Sports area with no merchandise.

Where has it all gone?  Why, here it is, right over here!

Old Spice wall of collegiate sports gifts.

Our “Old & New Spice” area is getting a new look with the sports department moving in this year.  Of course, we’re heavy on the SEC collection, but we carry other collegiate souvenirs as well.  We just may have your team here.

And sometimes, we even move walls, if we’re really feeling a burst of energy.

Fresh, white wall installed in the Gift Gallery to create a kitchenalia area.

Remember me? I used to be in the Floral Department!

Gift Gallery new wall, with empty shelves in front.

Oh, yes, there are major changes in the works around here .. some of which will just be in place in time for your next visit.  Now where did the village go??

Department 56 Snow Village display with no lighted houses at all, being reworked for the next season.

Here’s a sneak peek at one special area – look at these gorgeous new flower shop displays.

Row of assorted flowers, all dark red in color.

LOVE!  LOVE!  LOVE!  Gorgeous colors, and the profusion of silk flowers and stems look so sharp in their new, shiny black displays.

Assortment of flowers on display.

Assortment of dark gold-toned flowers on display.

Assorted silk flowers on display.

“Yummy” comes to mind – all those delicious spring colors massed together.  It’s still a work in progress, and we cannot wait to see the finished product – bet you can’t, either.

Tune in for our next “behind the workshop walls” report, as the elves continue to play while Santa is away!  He’ll be back five days a week after Memorial Weekend, though you can catch him this Saturday & Sunday at the store.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  We wish the blessings of peace and freedom for all who may be celebrating Easter, Pesach, or any other special commemoration this month.

Is it time?

It’s a beautiful, sunny day here in the Smokies, nearing the end of February, and I just passed a car that is still sporting its red Rudolf nose – no, wait .. is it “still” .. or is the driver already anticipating Christmas 2013, as we are here at Christmas Place?!  Hmmmm….

For those of you who simply insist on putting the tree away for at least a couple of months each year, and since we have made it past Valentines, Gumdrop, and Presidents days, now might be the time to take down the Christmas tree.

Think about it for a moment, though.  Do you really want to struggle with making it all fit back into the original box, adding a 5th .. 6th .. 7th .. layer of tape, and then having to drag the big, unwieldy box through the house, wedging it through doorways and around end tables and furry family members who have no concept of what you are trying to accomplish without their assistance, thank you very much, and finally into a storage area (probably up or down stairs, or even outside)?

No, you don’t!

Look no further, sweat and struggle no more.  We are pleased to tell you that we have the perfect solution for you right here.  You must get one of these marvelous tree storage bags – not just a bag, but a bag with wheels.  How fabulous is that?

Christmas tree storage bag, with wheels, for 7 or 9 foot tree

Portable, lightweight, flexible, stuffable, handles for easy transport .. where’s the cup holder on this thing??  Room to store your power strip and extension cord(s) right in the bag, so you don’t have to hunt them down next year.  I don’t know if there’s a Facebook fan page for it yet – but it seems like there ought to be!

You also need bags for your wreaths, to keep them free of dust and other potential off-season mishaps.

There, the last part of Christmas 2012, taken care of in a most convenient way.  Now you can sit back and wait for the new trends and styles in Christmas decor to form themselves into your perfect decorating scheme for 2013.  We’ll be right here to help with that, too.  Don’t you just have a wonderful feeling of peace and calm and preparedness for next Christmas, you lucky thing.

Good for you, because, well, Christmas is only 309 days away.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Speaking of next Christmas, the new Snowbabies and Department 56 pieces are available for pre-ordering already!  If you’re a fan of the National Lampoon movie “Christmas Vacation”, this is the year for you – remember Cousin Eddie’s RVIt’s here! 

Elves at Work!

See, we don’t ALWAYS wear our fur-trimmed hats, green tights, and curl-toed shoes!  But we ARE always looking for ways to do things better – here we are, brainstorming efficiency improvements in inventory management – so you’ll see even more quickly the best new merchandise our buyers select this year.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Extra credit if you can point out the two most unexpected elves in the room…

…and then it flooded .. just a little ..

We were very blessed to be spared the worst of yesterday’s weather, but there was plenty of rain over the mountains.  Leaving work Wednesday night, I drove as close as I dared to the raging rapids behind the store.  It was dusk, and still raining, so I must apologize for the quality of these images, but I think you’ll get a feel for what was happening.  On a normal day, the water would not even be visible from this vantage point – did you even know we have a river running behind the store?

It’s amazing to see the water surging around our picnic tables and into the lot!  By the way, I did not use a special lens or any computer manipulation – the special effects here are just raindrops on the camera lens – kind of interesting, I’ve decided.

Just to compare, here are pictures I took Thursday – the day after the flood.  If you are familiar with the area, you can see that the water that surged into our lot left a bit of a mess in its wake.

You can’t even see the water in the river today!

Oh, wait .. here it is – still surging – but down several feet from yesterday.

Okay, yes, a few feet of river water rise is quite an event for January in Pigeon Forge!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Beautiful snow on the mountain peaks – more on the way this weekend.  It’s okay if it stays up on the mountain peaks – camera range will be quite sufficient, thank you.

Inventory!

Yes, believe it or not, we even love taking inventory for Santa around here.  I mean, just look at all these smiling faces.  Clearly, it is a joyous time of year for us all!  (The sugar cookies with icing and chocolate sprinkles sure did help a lot, too.)

All this elfin fun happening behind the scenes here at the store – would you believe it?!  Now, someone, please bring me a sharpened pencil and another roll of tape, thank you…

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

2012 Trees – Snowy Woodland Bear Tree

I love making up my own names for the trees in the store.  Here’s a 12′ tree, flocked and filled with woodland kinds of ornaments, black bears, and beautiful red accents.  It starts with two almost-life-sized bears, dressed to keep warm for the winter.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this one, so forgive me if I’m repetetive here – I have {mad love} for the decor on this tree!  You’ll find many of the items on this tree in our Woodland Theme collection, and you might want to mix in some Cabin Theme, too (We have put together 132 themes on our website this year.)

 

Smoky Bear on skis!

 

I love those red-red-red pine cones!  They have just a touch of glitter, and look great with a little snow on top.

 

 As always, you should be able to click twice on the pictures to see them full sized (not a double click, but click again on the next screen) – I like to make them as large as possible, so you can see more of the details.

 What theme are you working on this year?  I have more to show you!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Don’t forget our two artist signings this weekend (November 17th & 18th, 2012) – Mario Tare, the Christopher Radko Company designer on Saturday from noon until 2 p.m.; and R.J. McDonald with his Santa pictures on both Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Come and see all the new lights we’ve added to our courtyard & buildings this year – it’s quite beautiful!

Have you put up your Christmas lights yet?

On the road I travel each day, there is a house that has been displaying Christmas lights since early October.  I say, two thumbs up!  It’s such a pick-me-up to enjoy those colorful lights on a night when I’ve been at the office later than planned…

Well, we’ve done the same here at Christmas Place – this has been a week of lighting up the courtyard for Christmas!  I don’t have any after-dark photos yet, but here are some just-at-dusk pictures I caught yesterday.

Look at this handsome rig we have added below the clock.

Santa & Reindeer all a-glow!

You’ll also see some new elf friends alongside our reindeer.

I'm not sure he's feeling all that merry today, what do you think?

 Now check out our lights.  Okay, you may have to squint a little for this picture – the wreaths & the garland are lighted, as well as all the rooflines.

I mean, don’t we all have our own cherry-pickers so we can light up the house and yard??  Hope you come down to see our lights, as well as the Winterfest lights that are on display all the way from Sevierville through Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. May I share one more photo?  I had the priviledge of attending a Salute to Veterans luncheon at the Dixie Stampede today, and was even seated next to the guest of honor, Sgt. Ed Douglas from just up the road in Morristown.  His battalion cleared 2,500 miles of roads in Afghanistan last year, without any loss of life, even though they were bombed many, many times.  (They also got to enjoy 8″ of snow for Thanksgiving, which we did not.)  This Sunday is Veterans Day, and we hope that you will thank a veteran when you have the opportunity.  Sgt. Douglas said that it is not a burden, but an honor to serve the U.S.  The burden is in being away from family and friends.  Thank you, Sgt. Douglas and all veterans!  (Dad, two uncles, my sister, two brothers-in-law, and many personal friends – and now children of my friends – thank you!)

Sgt. Ed Douglas

What’s New on a Monday?

Yuuuuummmmmyyyy fudge, that’s what!  Our newest flavors:

Candy Cane Swirl

Red Velvet

Hurshel's Kisses

We’re shipping fudge for the holidays – just call 800-445-3396 or go on line to order.  Our Pumpkin Pie fudge tastes just like the real thing – and don’t forget Chocolate Cherry and Peppermint, along with the standard favorites.

New colors and bags just released by Vera Bradley:

"Barbara" Frame Bag with leather trim in Dogwood

"Caroline" Bag in English Rose

We carry the best selection in East Tennessee – all bag styles and colors, along with matching accessories of all kinds – beautiful gift ideas for stocking stuffers and under the tree.  Call The Boutique at extension 122 and we’ll help you locate the perfect piece.

We have a new Gourmet Shop in the Christmas Gallery – filled with Christmas kitchen accessories – mugs, plates, placemats, trays, oven mitts, towels, and more – as well as a selection of fun candies that will make great stocking stuffers or party gifts this Christmas.  We have a new collection of paper goods for your party 0r open house, too.

Party Paper Goods

Perfect Stocking Stuffer Treats!

Sweets for Grazing

Christmas Peeps! Who Knew!

I think it's just cotton candy .. let's just say it's cotton candy ..

More Christmas Treats

And since I’m just having fun with pictures from all around the store, two more.

A most elegant Santa

UnderSea Tree

How cool do those bubbles, fish, and seahorses look, drifting up towards the ceiling?!  This is from our Beach Theme – did you know we have coordinated 129 decorating themes on our site to help make your shopping a breeze?  Check them out – you’ll find lots of inspiration there.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Tent Sale starts Tuesday, November 6th!  Our cashiers will take an additional 40% off already-reduced prices at the register.

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.

Christmas Inspiration from Around the World

We’re happy to share our first guest post with you today, from Erin Levine at PaperStyle.  What do you look for in the ideal Christmas card?  Erin suggests looking to the traditions of other cultures as well as our own for inspiration.

Everyone loves to make the most of the holiday season with their friends and loved ones in their own little corner of the world. It can be fun to break outside of the box and think about all the fun traditions people use to celebrate Christmas around the globe. There are plenty of fun and creative spins on Christmas traditions that we can all use to make Christmas crafts for our own home or implement into Christmas cards for friends and family. This year, as you sit down to create unique greeting cards or holiday-themed crafts, inspiration from various cultures around the globe just might spark an idea.

Aussies Heat Things up at Christmas Time

Forget about Frosty the Snowman. For Australians, Christmas actually falls during the hottest time of the year. They experience the holiday season during what is the equivalent of summer vacation to those of us in North America. For this reason, Australians enjoy conducting their Christmas celebrations outdoors. One of the most popular festivities is evening candle-lit processions. Twinkling candlelight is enough to inspire the holiday spirit even during a heat wave.

France Brings the Frosting for Christmas

The French are renowned for their delicious dessert delicacies and un-ending love affair with fine foods. It should come as no surprise that they bring out the culinary love in full force during the Christmas season. Children in France wait all year to long to finally dig their teeth into a rich buttercream cake called “buche de Noel.” A traditional buche de Noel is a beautifully decorated cake made into the shape of a yule log, covered generously in chocolate frosting. This fun and delicious dessert is simply iconic, and artwork featuring this treat makes a wonderful decoration for things like wrapping paper and Christmas cards.

Holidays in Holland are Sweet

Holland is another nation that famously parades out special dessert during the Christmas season. Families in Holland are known to carry out the tradition of baking a special letter cake. A letter cake is a cake created in the shape of the first letter of a family’s last name. The cake is a symbol of family pride and togetherness – not to mention being just plain delicious.

Mexico’s Christmas Piñata Tradition is Simply Smashing

Each year at Christmas time, many Mexicans jubilantly celebrate what is called Las Posadas. The word Posadas means “lodging.” Las Posadas commemorates the journey of Joseph and Mary as they searched for lodging on Christmas Eve. One of the highlights of the celebration is the breaking of the piñata. Beautifully-crafted and intricate piñatas are a great source of inspiration for anyone searching for artwork to use in their own Christmas decorations or Christmas cards no matter what nation they call home.

Americans Love Mistletoe from Head to Toe

Mistletoe is one of the most heralded signs that the Christmas season is upon us. This naturally beautiful leaf, though highly visible during the holidays, is a mystery to most Americans. The popularity of mistletoe as a symbol of Christmas didn’t begin until the 18th century, though it isn’t precisely clear why it began at all. In many American homes, mistletoe is hung in doorways, promising enduring love between any couple caught kissing beneath it. American mistletoe is actually an evergreen shrub that is native to the United States, though there are different species that are unique to Europe. The crisp green leaves and striking red berries are an enduring symbol of the warm feelings of the Christmas season.

Keeping an eye on the traditions and lore from cultures around the globe is a great way to gain inspiration for your own person Christmas crafts. Nothing speaks to the spirit of the holiday season more than embracing the traditions of people everywhere. You can find Christmas decorations and collectibles that represent holiday traditions from all over the world online at Christmas Place!

Erin Levine is a guest author from PaperStyle, an online retailer of wedding invitations, holiday photo cards, and stationery.