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Department 56 Display Tips



Here are a few tips to get you started thinking about your display --


The Base


We think the best base for our Department 56 display is white styrofoam. It can be purchased in long sheets and is used to completely cover the table. We like this styrofoam because it is white (for snow), allows for hiding cords, and allows things to be pressed into it for extra support.


These sheets (or boards) can sometimes be found in an home improvement store since some are used for insulation. Craft stores may also carry it. Some styrofoam boards are 4 feet long, 13 inches wide and an inch thick


To begin, make sure the whole table is covered with at least one layer of foam and then start building from there. You will want to elevate some parts of your display higher than others for an added effect.

When cutting smaller sections of foam for elevating your houses, make sure you cut them big enough for one or maybe two houses.

Department 56 Display Tips - End base


Determining Elevation


A flat display, looks just like that – flat. A flat display with no valleys or peaks can be pretty boring. So one way to give it some ‘life’ is to elevate a variety of pieces. This is simply done by placing extra layers of foam around your display to elevate your houses and accessories. However, before you do this, you first need to get a picture in your mind of how you want the arrangement of  houses to look.

It’s best if you elevate more towards the back of your display and make the front more level. Don’t just stick a big elevation onto a flat surface. It will stick out like a sore thumb.


Also, it’s better to elevate gradually, working up to your higher peaks.

After making your initial layout, look it over and move the pieces around to your liking. It is better to do this now, than later.

 Department 56 Display Tips - End elevation



Making and Placing Bodies of Water


Bodies of water are always nice to have no matter which collection you are displaying.


There are many ways to make water. We use wax paper and Reynolds Wrap for both rivers and waterfalls. To do so, tear off a long piece of wax paper and then crumple it up to produce lots of little creases. Then unfold it and wrap the wax paper around the Reynolds Wrap. This can be used as a stream bed or water falls.

Other ideas to use with your ‘water’ -- Use bridges and small rocks to keep the river in place. Line the edges of the stream with small rocks. This makes it look like a wall.

When your display is complete, use your ‘snow’ to cover little imperfections.

 Department 56 Display Tips - End water




Your accessories can make or break a display. So here are a few ideas –


Don’t just line up your people and wagons and animals in front of the houses. Create action in your display. Think where they could be going or what they could be doing. The pieces really help us in doing this since they’re designed to be doing something.

Just because they come in the box together doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to stay together in your display. Some will naturally go together but you might want to try mixing them up.

Place your vehicles first or at least have an idea where they might go since they will need more room.


Be creative in your placement. Just because we don’t usually see a sleigh coming down our town square doesn’t mean that you can’t have one.

 Department 56 Display Tips - End accessories



If you enjoyed these tips, please see our Dept 56 Display Tips e-book for over 100 more ideas or tips.









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