Department 56 Dickens Village Display

Materials needed to build a basic 4’x8’ display:

The displays are made from materials that are easily acquired. The boxwood hedges and fencing are can be easily replicated or you can choose to use fabric, bead board or other materials that suit your style. Here are the basic supplies you will need:
  • 2 pieces - 48”x96”x1/2” (thick) plywood
  • 15 pieces - 2”x4” studs measuring 36” long
  • 3 pieces of 4” thick - 48”x96” styrofoam
  • Floral pins to hold down cords from each building
  • 18” Floral picks to hold styrofoam layers together
  • Power strips; quantity will vary based on the number of buildings and accessories you have in you diorama. “Village Multi-Outlet Plug Strips” are available with 6 outlets. In the dioramas shown, you will need a minimum of 10 and up to 25 strips for each diorama.
  • Extension cords as needed (3 prong grounded)

Boxwood Hedges and Fencing:

The boxwood hedges and fencing wrap around the display. The display is 4’x8’. The boxwood hedges or materials of your choosing need to be slightly larger than the display measuring 4’1”x8’1”x4’1”. The fencing needs to be slightly larger than the boxwood hedges measuring 4’2”x8’2”x4’2”. The boxwood hedges can be dusted with flat white spray paint with additional accents as desired. You can be creative and pick up materials at any home improvement store to reproduce the look and feel we have achieved here.

Finishing touches:

Use General Village Accessories, trees, lights, animated products, backdrops, mountains, landscaping, platforms, roads and snow to create the season you are trying to portray.

Creating the Foundation

  • Lay one of the 48”x96” pieces of plywood on the floor. If on a hard floor, cut 4” square pieces of old carpet and staple on all four corners and center to help slide the display and avoid scratching the floor.
  • Attach the 2”x4” studs to the 48”x96” plywood so it looks like an upside down table. Each corner should have two 2”x4” studs meeting at a right angle for additional stability. Place one 2”x4” stud in the middle of each side 24” in from the back). Evenly space three 2”x4” studs along the front 32” apart). Finally, place two 2”x4” studs in the center for support and to attach the power strips (24” in from the back and 48” in from the sides.).
  • Attach the other piece of 48”x96” plywood onto the 2”x4” studs, creating the top of the display.
  • Cut random holes in the top of the plywood for easy access to the power cords.
  • Attach power strips to the center (and back if needed) 2”x4” studs for easy access after the display is complete.
  • Place the first piece of 4” thick Styrofoam on top of the plywood to start elevation. Cut holes for the power cords matching the holes you cut in the plywood. Add the next piece of 4” thick Styrofoam, placing it 1/4 of the way back to add the next level of elevation. Again, cut holes for the power cords. Place the last piece of 4” thick Styrofoam towards the back of the diorama for the last layer of elevation. The power cords can be drawn the back to the last layer.
  • Attach the boxwood hedges or other material to the front and sides leaving the back open. Dust the boxwood hedges with flat white spray paint to give it a snowed-on look.

Adding Buildings and Accessories

  • Before adding the buildings and accessories, you’ll want to cut the foam into glaciers, mountains, ice blocks or anything else you can imagine to add to the creativity and dimensional depth of the display.
  • Add the buildings and accessories. Position the buildings in a way that they interact with each other to help tell a story. A Main Street might have shops, diners, pubs and the accompanying accessories showing people shopping, dining or enjoying the city streets. A neighborhood might have houses, schools, churches and the appropriate accessories showing family fun.
  • Next add some General Village Accessories, Trees, Lights, Animated products, Backdrops, Mountains, Landscapes, Platforms, Road and Snow to create the season you are trying to portray.

You’re Almost Done!

  • Slide the display into a fitting location. Assemble the fencing, if appropriate, and paint as desired. Once dry, place the fencing on the front and sides of the boxwood hedges. You can attach the fencing using 3 1/2" drywall screws if you choose.