Sarah Seippel | December 25, 2023

Lemax Caddington Christmas Village Collection Lighted Building
More than just a decorative ceramic piece, Christmas villages help us step back in time and relive the magic of Christmas. Discontinued pieces like these can be rare yet affordable, like this Lemax Christmas Tree Shop that was sold on eBay for $35.00 in 2015.
Image Source: WorthPoint

The charm of a Christmas village is incomparable. While the joy of holiday lights and outdoor decorations is undeniable, the Christmas village’s intricate details set it apart, making each home a unique collectible. Some showcase their villages on the fireplace mantle, others on the dining room buffet, but my father, Will Seippel, chose a grand ten-foot train table.

In my childhood, I spent countless hours maneuvering my dolls through his Christmas village. The twinkling lights in each house and my father’s moving train collection brought the town to life, creating a magical backdrop for my youth. As a carefree child, everything during the holidays felt enchanted. My father taught me that growing up doesn’t mean losing the magic, and ever since, it has become my mission to recreate Christmas’s enchantment in my own home.

All I Want for Christmas Is … Another Village, Please

Since growing up in a home adorned with magnificent village displays, it’s been a dream of mine to emulate my father’s artistry in my way. In pursuit of this goal, I’ve scoured discount stores, visited local collector’s shops, and browsed through various online retailers to recreate the nostalgic charm of my childhood. If, like me, you revel in the excitement of the hunt and the allure of discounted prices, you might prefer exploring discount stores and online retailers.

Despite investing hours in the search with minimal success, I eventually turned to my father for guidance. Surprisingly, I discovered the key to my quest was right under my nose.

On a quiet Sunday morning, my hopes of recreating a nostalgic Christmas village setup in my home seemed dashed. Refusing to give up, I dialed my father’s number, hoping he might offer guidance on where to continue my search. Being a notable Christmas village collector, he shared valuable tips and unveiled what I consider a one-in-a-lifetime discovery.

During our conversation, he revealed he had recently visited the Salvation Army Depot as part of his work with WorthPoint. For a mere $200, he acquired a bundle of miscellaneous Christmas decorations, and within this haul were over fifty Department 56 Christmas Village pieces. Many were still in their original plastic wrap, never seeing the light of day outside their boxes.

Whether because of his generous spirit or the fact that I happened to be his favorite daughter named Sarah, he insisted I come over, pick out what I wanted, and borrow them for the season. The Christmas spirit practically courses through my runs, so I was overjoyed. This experience serves as a reminder that, while thorough research and visits to unusual spots are valuable, sometimes the least likely location holds precisely what you’re seeking.

Unboxing Time

Christmas village set buildings Department 56
While some people opt to choose each village piece for their displays meticulously, others may find joy in the delightful surprise of purchasing lots.
Image Source: Sarah Seippel

After peeking in the back of my father’s truck and hand-picking my favorite houses from his collection, I eagerly drove back home to set up my display. Taking care not to damage the original packaging, I carefully opened each box, unveiling a delightful array of Department 56 Christmas in the City designs: Hollydale’s Department Store, Spring St. Coffee House, Music Emporium, and Arts Academy. Surprisingly, I discovered the Boarding and Lodging School from the Dickens Village collection.

As I mentioned earlier, the joy of collecting lies in showcasing the items and uncovering a good deal. Although this acquisition wasn’t directly mine, I couldn’t resist wondering about the cost savings my father enjoyed on this gift. Consulting the WorthPoint Price Guide, I learned that the retired City designs typically sell at or under their original price. For instance, Hollydale’s Department Store initially retailed for $85.00, yet in 2022, the highest-selling version on eBay went for $70.00. On the flip side, the piece from Dickens Village commanded a higher price than its original cost. Introduced in 1993 with a price tag of $48.00, this Boarding and Lodge School fetched $53.00 on eBay in 2022.

Santa’s Favorite Toy Shops

The nostalgia of the classic Christmas village is like no other; however, with a vast range of styles, everyone is bound to find one that fits their home. When determining the value of a Christmas village item, it is essential to consider the age, rarity, condition, and completeness of the sets. It is also important to note the item’s brand and manufacturer.

Department 56 Christmas Village Music Emporium Terrys Towing Tow Truck 2 Piece Set
Breathe life into your Christmas village display with the charm of miniature figurines. Christmas Village figurines are valued at a broad price spectrum. In 2021, a similar two-piece tow truck set was sold for $19.99 on eBay.
Image Source: Sarah Seippel

Certain brands are highly sought after and can command higher prices. 

Lemax Village Collections, celebrated by collectors and holiday enthusiasts alike, are renowned for their meticulous craftsmanship and various themes, such as Caddington Village and Santa’s Wonderland.

My favorite source of Christmas village sets is Department 56. Established in 1976, Department 56 is a prominent creator of collectible Christmas village houses and figurines. With over a dozen distinct village styles in their repertoire, including the Dickens Village Series, A Christmas Story Series, and various Disney-themed pieces, Department 56 provides a rich array of options. The company’s village pieces within the set are sold individually, allowing the buyer to mix and match pieces across various collections. While some collectors opt to keep sets intact, others prefer to curate their display by selecting favorite pieces from different sets, adding a personalized touch to their holiday villages. Smaller pieces within collections may sell between $40 and $50, while larger standard designs sold in lots typically command from $200 to $225. Huge lots can trade in the thousands, with rare and highly collected pieces costing several hundred dollars on their own.

While Lemax and Department 56 tend to be pricier, exploring more budget-friendly alternatives is worth exploring. You may find discounted pieces from these brands through secondhand sellers, but other options will keep the bank strong. If you’re working within a budget to create your Christmas village set, consider Kurt Adler. St. Nicholas Square has excellent and affordable alternatives. And if you have been good this year, consider writing a letter to Santa. If you’re lucky, he’ll hurry down the chimney and bring you exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Department 56 Snow Village Halloween Black Cat Diner
As of late, my father has been collecting Halloween-themed and Pokémon-themed village homes. In 2023, this spooky Department 56 Black Cat Diner piece sold for $150.00 on eBay. There really is a niche for most tastes.
Image Source: WorthPoint

Happy Hunting!

Whether your holiday preferences lean towards the classic, Halloween-themed, or even Harry Potter-inspired, there’s a perfect Christmas village theme for everyone. While not everyone may have Santa Claus as their father, getting your tinsel in a tangle is unnecessary. A plethora of high-quality listings await on both online platforms and physical stores. Who knows? The beginning of your festive display or that elusive piece you’ve been hunting for years is within reach—maybe even five miles down the street. So hitch up your reindeer and find that piece you’ve been waiting for.

Love holiday-themed collectibles? Check out Sarah’s exploration of Halloween and Thanksgiving memorabilia.

Sarah Seippel is a freelance writer and finds much of her inspiration in her father’s unique collections. In her free time, she enjoys hunting down the best cup of coffee and pursuing for vintage deals.