a growing village.

Well, I made it home from Mexico.  We had a great time, the weather was absolutely perfect.  I’ll be sharing a little bit about the trip later in the week, so stay tuned for that.  I’ll also be sharing who won my blogiversary giveaway later, as soon as I get to it.

In the meantime, today I thought I’d share my growing Department 56 Dickens Christmas Village.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Department 56, it began in 1976 as part of Bachman’s and is still headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

The Original Snow Village was the only village offered initially.  The Dickens Village came along in 1984.  These days they have six core villages, and 12 Licensed villages like the Disney village that my sister is collecting and the Harry Potter village (and I have to say, if you’re a Potter fan this one would be amazing to have).

I have to admit, although these villages were all the rage back in the 80’s and 90’s, I think maybe the Dickens one has fallen from favor.  Or maybe it’s just that the people who collected them back then are all downsizing as they age.  Whatever the reason, they seem to pop up at estate sales, garage sales and thrift stores on a fairly regular basis.

The new pieces are priced at $100 and up, with the most elaborate priced at $250 or more.  I do want to note here that the quality of these pieces is much higher than the cheaper, generic sort of ceramic pieces you can find out there, though.  So I’m not saying they aren’t worth those prices.  However, my pieces have all cost less than $20.  This past summer my sister and I came across a garage sale where they were selling dozens of pieces for $10 each.  So my Tower of London piece, which is selling for $249.99 on Amazon, cost me $10.

As did the Kings Road Post Office.

I certainly was never planning to collect (or should I say non-collect) a Christmas village.  I did not hop on board with this trend back in the day when it was immensely popular.  But back in 2016 I shared a tour of my friend Amy’s house and I fell in love with her little village vignette.

The juxtaposition of the giant books with the lighted village on top was perfect.  So when I saw a few pieces at the thrift store, I decided to pick them up.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

When I find pieces at prices like $10 each, I just can’t help myself.

Last year I displayed the village on the Welsh cupboard in our dining room …

But I needed to expand this year.

So I went back to the pine cupboard in the Q branch …

as well as the top of the rooster cupboard in the same room …

and finally I displayed Victoria Station on the stack of suitcases next to the pine cupboard.

Those of you who are Christmas Village pros are probably already savvy, but I thought I’d share a few q tips on displaying a village for those who are newbies like me.

My first tip is to layer your display.  Just like on a buffet table, use props to place things at different heights.  I achieve this using vintage suitcases and old books.

I set these up first to create a stage for my village.

Next up is electrical.  I just discovered that you can buy strings of multiple lights for the villages from Amazon last year.  You can light up three, five, or even nine buildings with just one string to plug in.

I also purchased a remote control outlet to plug them into.  Now with one touch of a button I can turn them all on and off.  Well, technically I have two buttons.  One for the group over the pine cupboard and one for the group over the rooster cupboard.

One more tip for today, on adding trees.  When I was at Gertens a few weeks back, they had some fabulous faux flocked pine trees in their village display.  Unfortunately, they were $49.99 each, yowza!  Granted, they were lit.  But I also thought they were just a tad too large for the village.  So I didn’t buy any.

Then later, while perusing the Christmas décor at Target I came across these trees.

They are very similar to the Gertens trees, but about half the size.  They aren’t lit, but they also were only $3 each.  So I was able to get 10 of them for less than just one of the Gerten trees.  And I’m OK with them not being lit, that allows the village to be the star of the show.

I think they make for a very realistic looking snowy looking background.

I get the most enjoyment out of my village at night.  I leave all the lights off in the room, and just light up the village.  It’s so pretty!

I suspect I’ll continue watching my village grow over the coming years.

How about you, do you have a Christmas village?  Leave a comment and let us know.

31 thoughts on “a growing village.

  1. This is so charming and the thrill of the hunt is fun too. I agree that seeing it lit at night would be the cherry on top! I collect all white little buildings and have them under a forest of fake trees that I string fairy lights all over. And I strongly suspect that after I’m gone, someone will be buying them at a garage sale hosted by my children 🤣🤣.

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  2. I too have my collection due to rescuing pieces at thrift shops. Saw a beautiful church a few years ago and kept to church’s, for the most part. But alas, I saw a darling cobble stone shoe shop and and then a bakery. Got a bit off track. I do love them too.

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  3. I gave my village to my daughter, and it looks wonderful on her mantle – I just don’t have anywhere to put a village anymore. I did keep 1 piece – the first one I bought. Alas, this year I won’t be decorating for Christmas as a broke my ankle and I am non-weight bearing for 6 weeks. I love how you put your village in several different locations!

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  4. Linda, yours is enchanting! I gave mine to my granddaughter. She was thrilled. I now use Putz like houses. I also have my sisters church from her first Christmas 1948. My most treasured piece is my great Aunt’s 1893 leather embossed The Night Before Christmas. Wonderful illustrations.
    Looking forward to hearing and seeing about your trip!
    Smiles, alice

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    1. This collection is so colorful…makes you smile just looking at it. I love your varying the height with books too. I bought clear plastic display stands to elevate my “Santa” collection collection, and that worked pretty well. My display cabinet might just have some books next year instead though – love your ideas!

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    2. The Putz houses are adorable … and so much smaller and lighter than the Dept 56 villages. It sounds like you have some fabulous nostalgic bits of Christmas décor!

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  5. Your village is wonderful and the trees look perfect. I agree that the unlighted trees let the buildings be the focus. Great tips for displaying a village and really for many displays. I don’t have a village, but do have a small display of a non-collection of snowmen!

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  6. That is one thing I never got on board with – thank goodness!! I collect waaaay too much stuff 😉 I always liked the look of them, but never collected them. Yours look amazing!

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    1. LOL, that’s exactly how I felt until I purchased those first couple at a thrift store a few years back. You’re probably better off just avoiding them all together 😉

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    1. Putting them back away is a bit of a chore. I have the original boxes for all except two of the pieces, which makes it easy to stack them for storage. So far I can fit all of them except the two bigger pieces in my front hall closet on the shelves under the stairs. That space is getting full though!

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  7. Oh Miss Quandie I love your display! I began my Dickens Village collection when my son Martin was about three years old and wanted him to be surrounded with that magical feeling of Christmas and he loved it. Then my collection BALOONED when my husband kind of went nuts buying them for me every Christmas. I had to call a moratorium on any additional buildings! This Christmas most of them are boxed up and buried in our garage when so much stuff is stored in preparation for our eventual move into our new house. (How long oh Lord?111) Anyway, I just put a few this year on top of the piano……..and, as always, it’s like a little happy beating heart! Your finds at garage sales are astonishing……I love the trees that you found and they might just be sending me to Target cause mine are looking a little ratty! PS: I really like your Tower of London, I hadn’t seen that one!

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    1. That was the thing about these villages, they created the perfect go-to for ‘easy to buy’ Christmas gifts. Husbands everywhere were on easy street for picking out a gift each year! It’s going to be like Christmas all over when you can finally dig your pieces out of storage and set them up in your new house!

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  8. Oh how I love your villages. I had a large village but gave it to my grandaughter. Now I have a much smaller one lit up. I lost my husband last year and my heart just wasn,t into but now I have tried to pull myself up. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas…Betty from, Ontario in Canada…..love to your Mom and sister.

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  9. I love villages. I have one that I painted. The houses, shops and churches are all reminiscent of a small town in Victorian times. They are some kind of bisque fired material, possibly even just Plaster of Paris. I painted them with acrylic craft paint and then sealed them and they’ve been displayed every Christmas for 30+ years. I stack different levels of books and magazines along a buffet cabinet and a small gateleg table, cover the books with white batting for snow and string lights inside the houses. I, too, like to turn off the room lights and leave the village lighted.

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  10. Yes, I’m a collector of the Dickens Village, have been for years. I love to look at it at night when the lights in the room are out and all you see are the lighted houses of my little village. It really gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling and welcomes me into the Christmas spirit. Happy Holidays!

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  11. I found a Lemax Feed store lighted item at a thrift last year for $3.00. Since I used to have a horse it is perfect for me. I have it under my Christmas tree with a some vintage horse statues. Wish I had more room for these so this will probably be my only one!

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