One Christmas evening, a group of friends set off to enjoy a dinner of celebration at a small country inn nestled in a quiet river town. As they rounded a bend in the road, they saw the small, old-fashioned village decorated for the holidays. The lights, like fairies, glowed and sparkled amid the freshly fallen snow. All evening, the conversation was full of Christmas memories and the visions the tiny town had evoked. Amidst the jovial banter and magical memories, the idea for a lighted Christmas village was born. That spark of an idea became a reality when, in 1976, Department 56 introduced a series of six hand-painted, ceramic buildings.

Department 56 began as part of Bachman's, a premiere retail florist in Minneapolis. Bachman's used a numbering system to identify each of its departments. The number assigned to wholesale gift imports division was, you guessed it, 56.

Leader in giftware industry

Now headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Department 56 has become a leader in the giftware, collectibles and holiday decorating industry and is best known for our hand-crafted lighted villages, Dept 56 snowbabies figures and extensive lines of holiday & home decorative items.

Updated: 26 November 2019

Department 56 forum

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Comments (3)
Mike - January 26, 2011
St. Paul winter carnaval had a ice castle one winter and dept 56 made a ice castle for the collection.
Jde - December 13, 2010
I do not know what the product name is for me to begin a search to purchase Department 56 \"message vases\" (white milk bottle with a colored inside blue, yellow, green, red, pink, etc...with messages like \"Merry Christmas\", \"Snow\", \"Star\", \"Happy Holidays\" etc... Any chance you know the product name?
Gavin - September 13, 2010
Please can you tell me how i can obtain new bulbs and fittings for the for the houses to light up, mine now need replacing, and i can't find them anywhere on any site. thank you. Gavin.
You can find info about replacements & parts here: