Department 56 Build Your Own Village in Your Home

Build your own village in your home with the help of a nearby SoCal garden center.

Written by David S.

If you are new to Department 56, then prepare to get excited. They are a US-based company that focuses on holiday items and collectibles. They are widely known for their lit Christmas villages but also make and sell ornaments and Snowbabies. While the focus seems to be Christmas, they have plenty of fun items for Halloween and Autumn. They are a popular company that offers holiday decor with lighting and authentically styled pieces. They are well-known for holiday villages and historical buildings on a scaled-down version suitable for decoration.

What’s New in Department 56?

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a spook-fest with village pieces such as Dalton’s Dolls or the Wick-Ed Wax Works. You can also avoid the fright and focus on more traditional items such as the pieces that make up their Autumn Village. Collect them all or design your own set by selecting pieces that celebrate the traditions of autumn. 
In 2019, they added a host of new pieces under an array of themes that feature well-known icons such as the Chrysler Building or the re-enactment of the American Gothic painting. For the holidays, add their Skate Party, which is complete with an ice rink. There is also a selection of holiday Snowbabies too. 

If you are into collections, they offer limited edition pieces. For 2019, only 2,019 pieces of each item is manufactured. Their limited edition pieces are excellent ways to make your village unique. Some pieces are made for a specific village, but all are limited. 

The fun is designed for people of all ages, and their 2019 new villages include a 56 Street Brewery Village, including a Craft Beer building. Some pieces are made for existing sets while others are boxed sets. 

The list of new for 2019 is long and worthy of checking out. The pieces or sets are lovely as gifts, even if you are given yourself a present. The list of themes is equally long, and there is something here for everyone. 

Village to Scale and Lit

Each building is lit so that it is enjoyable at all times. The buildings come with lights pre-installed, and replacement parts are available should a bulb burnout. You can buy replacement lighting kits, which can then be added to your DIY village. 

The DIY Side of Department 56 

All kits come ready to use, but there is a huge community that likes to design their own pieces for Department 56 buildings and features. A good example would be snowy mountains as a backdrop. Because the villages are to scale, it can be a lot of fun to create a more realistic scene to enhance the village. 

People use a variety of items, but block foam works well for snow. The buildings are made from resin to give them an authentic look, but you can use foam board or other products to design and build your own units. Most people glue pieces together but you can also interlock them. 

A good tip is to keep in mind that not all glues work well on foam. Be sure to read the label when you choose an adhesive. 

Now that you’ve made a building, it is time to paint it. Krylon brand craft paint works well on foam, and for bigger projects, they offer a craft version of spray paint. In fact, there are a few brands of paint that work on foam, and most are craft-grade. That is important because craft products are generally safer to use for most ages. 

To make more detailed work on the building, you can find electric tools that work well. These include engravers and hot knives which cut or melt right through foam. Many YouTube videos walk you through the process of making things like faux water for your village. 

So, while village sets are awesome, there is a way to add to each set on your own. In fact, there is a huge community of people who live and breath Department 56 products and innovations. 

Here is a video on how to use a hot knife to cut foam:

Here is an example of how to create water in video form:

The ability to find resources to help you in your DIY Department 56 projects makes it easy for you and your family to dive in and create scenes that inspire, touch, and celebrate the best times of our lives. 

The Selection 

The selection of villages is large, and there is something here for everyone. Villages are a great way to link generations or create new traditions. A good example would be a grandparent teaching their grandchildren how to carve foam with a tool. Those are the bonds that keep families close and methods by which one generation inspires and teaches the next. 

Green Thumb Nursery carries Department 56 Village and replacement parts. The selection varies by location, but there is an array of options available. 

Do you have a favorite holiday you’d like to celebrate through decorations? If so, be sure to check out our selection of Department 56 villages. We also have pieces and products so that you can rediscover a favorite place or historical landmark. 

With the DIY option, there is almost nothing you cannot re-create, or maybe you would enjoy designing a future world or village. The options are almost endless and the fun is limitless. 

If you are on the hunt for a specific village or item, be sure to call ahead. Our inventory of these very popular items varies daily. You can call us, visit us online or just drop by. We have five locations throughout Southern California and are happy to find the village or building you need. We carry limited-edition pieces too. 

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