100 Greatest Gifts of the Century

As many of you may already know, Department 56 has been in gift business since 1976 when The Original Snow Village was first introduced and since then we have developed other Villages as well as many giftware lines that are popular among our collectors. It seems like a long time to us, but there are other companies who have offered giftware a lot longer.

Recently, “Gifts and Decorative Accessories” magazine, a leader in our industry came up with a subjective list of the 100 greatest gifts of the last century – celebrating the 100 year anniversary of this retail trade magazine. We are proud to share portions of the article that names the best of the best – and we are ranked #2 with Department 56 Villages and #5 with Snowbabies.

Perhaps you will find some of your other favorites on this list as well.

 

 

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

 

The movie “Nightmare Before Christmas” first released in 1993 has, over the years, acquired a huge cult following of fans of both Halloween and Christmas. Creator Tim Burton, a Burbank, California native expressed that “anytime there was Christmas or Halloween, it was great. It gave you some sort of texture all of a sudden that wasn’t there before.” It never left him.

There was always a thought in the back of his mind to expand on the dual theme.

1982 Burton, who was then-employed at Walt Disney Feature Animation, wrote a three-page poem entitled The Nightmare Before Christmas, drawing inspiration from television specials of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas. Burton intended to adapt the poem into a television special with the narration spoken by his favorite actor, Vincent Price who was known for his spooky spoken delivery. He also considered other options such as publishing the work as a children’s book. He created concept art and storyboards for the project in collaboration with Rick Heinrichs, who also sculpted character models for stop-action films and short movies. Initially, Disney thought the concept was a little too weird for their target audience.

Finally, in 1990, Burton worked out a deal with Disney to begin the project which was a huge success with the film being nominated for best Visual Effects.

Village Artist Tom Bates

In 2017, Department 56 has been granted the licensing rights to produce three-dimensional pieces from this popular movie, each hand crafted and hand painted in resin. Village artist, Tom Bates, enjoyed the project. He shared that he watched the movie with his daughter who loved the movie and” has seen it many, many times.” What he enjoyed most was watching the added features that showed how the Stop-motion photography was accomplished. “Each movement consisted of dozens and dozens of images put together to create a seamless action, and it they got it wrong, they had to start all over.”

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The History of Christmas in July

The first mention of the phrase, “Christmas in July” is found in Werther, an 1892 French opera with libretto by Édouard BlauPaul Milliet, and Georges Hartmann. It had an English translation published in 1894 by American playright,  Elizabeth Beall Ginty. In the story, a group of children rehearses a Christmas song in July, to which a character responds: “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.”

The earliest known celebration in the United States to make the phrase Christmas in July literal was in July, 1933 at Camp Keystone, a girl’s summer camp in North Carolina which celebrated with a Christmas tree, gifts, and a visit by Santa Claus. In 1935, the National Recreation Association’s journal Recreation described what a Christmas in July was like at a girl’s camp, writing that “all mystery and wonder surround this annual event.” It was definitely something that the girls looked forward to.

American advertisers began using Christmas in July themes in print for summertime sales as early as 1950. In the United States, it is more often used as a marketing tool than an actual holiday. Television stations have chosen to re-run Christmas specials, and many stores have Christmas in July sales. Some individuals choose to celebrate Christmas in July themselves, typically as an intentionally transparent excuse to have a party. This is in part because most bargainers tend to sell Christmas goods around July to make room for next year’s inventory.

People who love the season sometimes use “Christmas in July” as the kick off to start talking, planning and buying things they need for the upcoming holiday. It has become the official start — to the most wonderful season on earth!

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Addicted to Candy Crush

Ok, it’ true confessions time, who plays the video game “Candy Crush”? Show of hands? Who not only plays it, but is addicted to it? That’s better!

Ever wonder about how it came to be? Me, too! “Candy Crush” is a product of King Digital Entertainment, based in London, with studios in Stockholm, Sweden. The game’s inventor, Sebastian Knutsson, is credited with creating 10 of the company’s 15 worst games. I guess that means that it only takes one success to be remembered and the failures can long be forgotten.

Experts tell us that part of the fun comes from being able to play the game for free, although there are paid incentives to climb levels more rapidly. It must be a matter of patience to play the same level for hours before your capture all the correct candies.

Department 56, eager to appeal to fans, whether they be youngsters, or long time players of the game and collectors of Villages, entered into a licensing agreement for the rights to produce not only the “North Pole Candy Crush Factory”, and two adorable accessory sets, but a variety of iconic ornaments to hang from the branches of your Christmas tree. Look for “Mr. Toffee”, “Tiffy” and many of the brightly colored candies so familiar to players of the game.

What level are you on?

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