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 – 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.

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.

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.

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!

Gerald Dickens is Back!

We’ve just finalized plans to have Gerald Dickens, great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens, return to The Inn at Christmas Place for a second season – and this year, for 3 performances of his one-man enactment of A Christmas Carol!  We are already accepting bookings for our hotel-dinner-show and hotel-show packages – follow this link for details.

Gerald Dickens

Performances will be on Sunday night & Monday afternoon, banquet seating (around tables) with refreshments, including a dessert from The Partridge & Pear Restaurant created especially for the event (plum pudding??); and Monday night, theatre seating.

Oh- the dates!  November 13th & 14th.

That same weekend, we’ll be hosting a Dickens festival at all three companies.  On Saturday, Barbara Lund, the lead designer for Department 56 houses, will be at the store for a signing.  On Saturday & Sunday (Sept. 12-13), our Department 56 Secondary Market, private sales of retired pieces, will be taking place in the courtyard.  We’re planning for other entertainment and special events at the store, hotel and restaurant that weekend, too.

Mark your calendars – and make your reservations now!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Department 56 2011 Collectibles

We’ve added all the new Department 56 collectibles to our web site for pre-sale – the items won’t arrive until later in the spring, but you can make sure to get just what you want by placing your order now.

Seems like I might be turning into a Winters Frost collector myself.  I just love the new church, Holy Night Church, with the nativity scene on the lawn, and the new cottage with a happy little snowman in the front yard.  The “Hidden Pond Warming House” is quite charming, too – I’m picturing hunters or ice fishers stretching their legs in front of a blazing fire inside .. yes, I know there’s a fire pit outside, but I’d still rather be INSIDE on a cold night!

Hidden Pond Warming House

Cottagewood Bungalow

Holy Night Church

Did you see the Snowpinions collection last year?  Cutest little snowmen ornament series – had to get one of each, of course … we have a lot of new styles this year, and some accessory pieces – mugs, cookie jar, and a set of four mini plates that are the best!

I see seven new houses in the Dickens’ Village collection – that’s enough for a whole new street, isn’t it?

There are many more new pieces in the line, and you’ll enjoy browsing our site for all the “New!” tags.  Also, we’ve added a Facebook “Like” button to all our items – so you can spread the word to your friends about the pieces you want to put on your wish list this year.

As always, we’d love to see photos of your own village display – share them on our forum or Facebook page, please!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Christmas Village Display

Do you go all-out with your lighted Village display at Christmas time?  Why else would you collect the houses if you didn’t intend to enjoy them yourself and show them off during the holidays ~ or any time of year? 

One of our long time associates here at Christmas Place, Miss Phyllis, brought in photos of her own Village collection as displayed in her home last year.  The display reaches almost to the top of her window frame, and includes an elevated mountain-scape above a train track.  She created the entire landscape herself, carving and painting the mountains, tunnel, and archways.  I think you’ll agree, she put together a really beautiful scene!

I think the skiers up at Whistler would be wishing for such snow-covered slopes!  I asked Phyllis if her family helps with this, and she says no, it is entirely her own project.  What a talented and creative lady she is. 

Thanks for sharing your photos and your inspiration with us, Phyllis!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Calling All Department 56 Collectors!

It’s new 2010 collectibles release time for both Villages and Snowbabies from Department 56!  Although they won’t ship the merchandise to us until early summer, we’ve seen pictures, and there are a lot of great new buildings, accessories, and Snowbabies figurines on the way.

We have a special offer for Christmas Place customers – pre-order your 2010 pieces now, and we’ll include a free gift with your qualifying purchase.  In addition, we won’t bill your credit card until the merchandise is ready to ship from our store!

With a $100 Village order of 2010 items, we’ll include a bag of Fresh Fallen Snow, a 3-socket replacement, and a 3-pack of replacement bulbs.  With a $50 Snowbabies order of 2010 items, we’ll ship a 13″ pine tree in a gold urn and the newest copy of the Discovering Snowbabies collector’s handbook.  These free gifts are only available while quantities last, so get your order in today.

We’re also offering free freight on all orders over $100, another Christmas Place perk of which you’ll want to take advantage.

Here are a couple of highlights from among the new releases.  Check out “SVPD Precinct 76″ police station, keeping the peace in Original Snow Village style.

From the Winters Frost collection that was introduced last year, “Winter’s Light” features a rotating beacon light in the top of the lighthouse tower.


“Better Watch Out” Coal Mine in the North Pole Series ~ almost buried under an avalanche of snow!

Snowbabies offers about 40 new figurines, ornaments, and water globes this year, including “Trust Me – Wear This”, as Snowbaby helps a snowman attach his carrot nose.

Nativity collectors will appreciate the charm of the “Babies in Bethlehem” tableau.

New for 2010, Department 56 is introducing a porcelain village collection titled “A Place to Remember.”  The intricately detailed and painted buildings range in size from just under 4″ to as much as 11″ wide side-to-side, but are only about an inch thick, and mounted to bases that are between 2″ and 3″ deep – perfect for display on a narrow shelf, mantle, or ledge.  There are three series in the introduction:  An Evening in Paris, The Hills of Tuscany, and Carmel by the Sea.  Below is the large An Evening in Paris piece, and it measures 9.5″ wide by 8.5″ tall (all three buildings are in one piece).

 Snowbabies collectors will be interested to know that Department 56 has upgraded the product packaging this year to match that of Villages, with a printed sleeve wrap featuring a photo of the figurine inside.  The photos have been enhanced to highlight the building or figurine, making it stand out from the surrounding graphics.  You’ll easily be able to sort your stored pieces, and keep your collection up to date.

 Follow the links, and place your pre-order today.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place