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Department 56 Village Collecting Guide

Are you new to Department 56 Village collecting?  Maybe you're a seasoned veteran looking for some tips.  We'll be developing this collecting guide throughout the season to add interesting tips and information for everyone.  Some of our upcoming topics will include:

  • Getting Started - How do I pick my first village buildings?
  • Display Tips - From beginners to masters...
  • Lighting Tips - What are my options and how do I hide the cords?
  • Replacement Parts - how do I replace missing signs, burnt out bulbs or other missing parts?
  • Protecting Your Village - The main culprits seem to be cats and kids!
  • Reselling Your Village Collection
  • Village Groups and Resources

Getting Started

There are so many Villages from Dept. 56 it can be overwhelming deciding how to get started.  It's a good idea to have an idea of what you'd like to collect before you get started.  Dept. 56 Villages are organized in different series of buildings that are meant to go together.  While most people pick a particular series to start out with, others like to choose their favorite buildings and display them together regardless of whether they are from a particular series.  Others try to recreate a certain city, such as Boston, New York or Chicago.  Some people prefer a collection of historical landmarks around the world, and others focus on certain themes such as buildings around water.  Think about what matters most to you and go with it.  There are no set rules you need to follow - it's YOUR collection!

The Village Collections

I'll introduce the various Village series from Dept. 56, and let you know which ones go well together.  We'll start with Halloween, then talk about the holiday Villages.  There are a few buildings that are general Fall or harvest styles that can go beyond Halloween, and a couple that are specifically for Thanksgiving.  All of these will be found in the Halloween section.  When we get to the holiday section, there are some buildings that do not have snow or holiday decorations, so they can be displayed year-round.  There are others that are actually designed for Spring or Summer displays.  All of these are grouped in the normal holiday section under their respective Village series.

Lighting Tips

Each building comes with its own light cord or battery pack.  The older buildings simply have a cord with a light bulb that fits in a hole on the bottom, but many of the newer pieces have the standard cord with the auxiliary attachment as well.  This helps run either animated parts or the small LED lights that are sometimes used for colored and exterior lighting.  As your village collection grows, you'll find that all those cords start to become quite a challenge!  There are a couple of solutions to this.  Dept. 56 offers single cords with multiple lights, spaced the average distance from one building to the next.  These are available in strands of 3 sockets or 6 sockets.  More recently, Dept. 56 introduced the building and accessory lighting system.  This system includes a custom power strip that is more compact because its special cords plug in with one small prong rather than a traditional plug.  It comes with both lighting and accessory cords, and you can purchase more of either one separately to achieve the balance that fits your collection.