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.



Share This Post!  Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Santa’s Big Catch

Ever wonder how Santa spends his “off-season”? Like many of us, Santa does get a little down time to pursue his favorite activities – hunting, fishing, and gardening. And after all the years he’s been in this business, he’s entitled to a good long vacation!

With his busy fall and winter schedule the jolly old elf does find time to get out and enjoy a little fly casting and trout fishing at some of his favorite fishing spots. Christmas Lake in Oregon is his favorite, but he also likes Holiday Lake in Iowa and has been known to spend some time at Santa Claus Lake in Maine and Elf Lake up in Ontario, Canada.

You may not recognize him in June, July or August because he’s traded his red stocking cap for a bucket hat, and waders for his shiny black boots, and may even be seen with his feet up on the cooler. What’s inside you ask? We’re pretty sure that the missus has packed him a healthy lunch, and a few cold ones! This time Santa looks like he snagged a wrapped package and not the perch he was hoping for!


Mrs. Claus usually can talk him into a few days of R & R at the beach when the weather at the North Pole gets to be too much for them, and you’ll find Santa dipping his toes into the sand and relaxing in a surfside beach chair. 


Another activity that Santa enjoys that may surprise you is that he’s a pretty good cook! Mrs. Claus lets him into the kitchen on occasion to whips up one of his favorite deserts – chocolate mousse cake with chocolate frosting! Yum! (And you thought he got that waistline by eating carrots with Rudolph and the other reindeer!)



All of these pieces are part of the “Possible Dreams” collection of Santa figurines by Department 56. Designed by artist, Ann Dezendorf, these Santas appeal to everyone who loves Christmas, and the use of mixed media adds to the artistry and charm. This collection has been crafted with an emphasis on individuality since 1985 so no two pieces are exactly the same.

Share This Post!  Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Holiday Centerpiece Decorating Ideas

The fun in holiday decorating your home is that it can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be depending on how much time and creativity you have. A centerpiece is not limited to a table; make it the focus of an entry way table or living room end table, kitchen island, or bookshelf. Below are some tips on how to successfully create a holiday centerpiece that will rival any decorating veteran:

  • Consider the size of your centerpiece. Knowing how much space you have to work with is really important. This will dictate how the centerpiece might interfere with the function of your table. Large or square tables may look better with a larger centerpiece but a narrower table may look better with smaller, longer accents that draw the eye down the length of the table or through an entry way.
  • Think about color. Having specific colors keeps the scheme of the centerpiece focused.
  • Candles will add a touch of warmth and light to any centerpiece. They’re also a great and easy way to add height variation! Try to incorporate battery operated candles that sometimes come with a remote for ease of use.
  • Adding real or faux seasonal natural elements in your centerpiece can really tie everything together while also adding a seasonal and festive touch. Consider natural accents like poinsettias, fir or pine branches, birch branches, or log tea light holders.
  • Include your personality! It is your centerpiece after all. Don’t be afraid to incorporate a quirky element that reflects your sense of style into your overall design.

For the traditional decorator:

Turn your table into a heartwarming scene created with Possible Dreams “Gift Exchange” Santa. The traditional colors of Christmas paired with the playful snowman and feather earmuffs add extra holiday cheer. Add acrylic or glitter snowflakes on the table to set the scene.

Possible Dreams Santas

The Snow Dream Collection from Snowbabies offers the traditional decorator the opportunity to include glass cloches filled with ornaments as a backdrop. Add a string of small battery operated lights inside the cloches to create a beautiful glow. Be sure to keep the battery pack outside of the cloche for easy access.

Snowbabies SnowDream

For the contemporary decorator:

Begin with a base of your favorite holiday table runner. Using something such as a wooden box, tray, or wine crate to add height. Adding a contained element makes the items in your centerpiece feel intentional. Build your centerpiece around colors or textures keeping in mind to add some objects with varied heights.

Christmas in the City Series

For the Village collector:

Create a meaningful centerpiece with Christmas Sweets from Department 56. This is a special holiday 2016 collection with a focus on the joy of giving and receiving chocolate. They all feature a beautifully lit display inside that will capture your attention immediately. Add a dash of “real plastic snow” and you’re set!

North Pole Series

For the minimalist decorator:

Start dreaming of a white Christmas on your table! Start with using the varying heights of our birch branch trees and fill in the spaces between with pinecones or ornaments, faux snow, or varying colors of sisal trees. Still craving a splash of color? Consider accents of icy blue or red.

Village Accessories – Trees
First Frost Series
Share This Post!  Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Here Come the Holidays: Christmas Mantel Decorating Tips with Department 56

Now that it’s officially December it’s time to start the holiday decorating! After you’ve found your inspiration, you want to start actually planning how to set up your mantel display. Seeing beautifully decorated mantels on social media can be intimidating to recreate. Here are a few Christmas decorating tips to make setup more fun! We’ve also included some Department 56 inspiration based on your decorating style. All items can be purchased on our website!

  1. Create height variation. One of the easiest ways to add dimension to your arrangement is with a vase or candle.
  2. Add greenery or organic materials. Embrace the fun of the holiday season by using fir or pine garlands, birch branches, or poinsettias. (live or artificial)
  3. Candles add ambiance. Their warm light draws attention and adds to the atmosphere.
  4. Personal touches are important. Add a cherished item or picture on the mantel. It’s important to still reflect you as a homeowner.
  5. Use repetition, such as hanging stockings or placing votives throughout your creation. Some consistency across the long surface expertly ties in all of your mantel décor elements.
  6. Keep it simple. Sometimes less really is more!


For the traditional decorator:

pd-mantelCreate a scene on your mantel that even Mrs. Claus would envy! This “Christmas Traditions” Santa has a basket of greens in one arm and a delicate dove of peace nesting on his other hand. The elegant sleigh and gift bag with small metallic accents bring a little sparkle to the display. Cut a piece of glitter wrapping paper as your mantel runner. Add Santa’s backdrop to complete the scene.


For the contemporary decorator:

christmas-tweets-mantelDon’t be afraid to embrace the sparkle! Choosing a bold red with gold accents is a perfect start and the texture of the feathers are a playful addition. The whimsical bird nutcracker breaks the conventional mold and ties in perfectly with the feather trees.


For the Village collector:

village-mantelVillage accessories can tie your collection together as well as add a personalized touch to your mantel. Don’t be afraid to mix pieces from different collections! Looking for something special this year? Consider adding one of our 40th Anniversary pieces before they’re sold out!


For the minimalist decorator:

village-mantel-gnomesSometimes simple is best! Add natural touches by incorporating elements of the outdoors such as oversized mushrooms and glittered pine trees to add height. Bring out your lighthearted side by adding cute outdoor friends, like Santa’s elves dressed as friendly gnomes.

Share This Post!  Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail