It's Puzzle Season @ Department 56

If you were to step inside our Minnesota office today, two things may strike you: one, how much the drifting cherry blossom petals resemble snow, and two, how much the team here enjoys puzzles. The ones in progress scatter the breakroom tables, the ones complete become art on our warehouse walls, and the ones in waiting are piled neatly on a shelf nearby. It’s a bit of a tradition that teammates add a piece whenever they pass, but it’s also the perfect metaphor for what is happening behind the scenes as we prepare our 2025 collections.

If you look at each year’s launch as a puzzle, our 2025 launch is currently sitting as just a border. We’ve defined how many SKUs we anticipate introducing so we know how many pieces our puzzle has. Complicating the process further, we’ve begun our 2026, 2027, and even 2028 puzzles concurrently. We place a puzzle piece for 2025 that we know will grow to 2 pieces in 2026, maybe 3 in 2027, etc., all the while looking back at the puzzles we’ve launched in 2024, 2023, 2022 to ensure the pattern flows.

Department 56 Puzzle Piece

Some pieces are so popular that they carryover from one puzzle to the next. “THE GRISWOLD HOLIDAY HOUSE” is one such piece that has been carried over since it debuted in 2013. When we consider what piece or pieces should fit next to this for our 2025 introduction, we brainstorm dozens of options considering fit, price point, complexity, whether we’ll be able to secure approval from the licensor to make the design, etc. I can unveil we have 2 pieces planned for 2025, including one titled “ELLEN AND I WANT TO HELP” that commemorates one of our favorite scenes from the film.

Then there are pieces that we know are going away, like our Limited-Edition pieces in 2024. One of those pieces, “NO. 4 PRIVET DRIVE” may be worth investing in now because in 2025 we’re introducing “WIZARDS & MUGGLES”, a set of 5 exceptional figures designed to bring more characters to our Harry Potter Village like we did this year with our “FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS” sets. One of the figures in the forthcoming set, featuring Dudley and his mother, Petunia, is designed to coordinate perfectly to “NO. 4 PRIVET DRIVE”, provided you have the house, that is! 

Department 56 Puzzle Piece Blog

Some of the puzzle pieces we’re mulling are purely fun, like a few designs that are customizable, a nostalgic throwback to Lilliput Lane, and a fresh new technology in the Original Snow Village. Others are so obvious, so important, that they’re like the corners of the puzzle. Case in point, 2025 is the 35th anniversary of our North Pole Series. We knew we wanted master artist, Paul Lundberg, to puzzle in some pieces in celebration of the milestone, but what he created is so “BLING-TASTIC” that you may want to grab a loupe when you see them!

The pile of puzzle pieces that don’t fit is exponentially bigger than the ones that do. We always keep our brainstorms in case they fit for future launches, but I can share some of the items that did not make the cut this year were pieces like a neon demon house for Trick-or-Treat Lane, introducing Pete the Cat in Mickey Mouse’s Christmas Village, and relaunching Rudolph in its own subseries. The reasons are myriad and fascinating, but we mull every SKU for months until we’re confident in what we’ve fit together.

Inevitably, there are moments every year, with every puzzle, where we hold a blank squiggly cardboard shape in our hands and ask ourselves “Is this the year? Is it time?” It’s a moment that all creatives from Department 56 have faced in the past when they’ve considered launching a new series, and this year we said “yes” and dropped not one, not two, but three blank pieces into our 2025 puzzle.

I can share that two of our new series will be branches from the astounding popularity of Snow Village Halloween. Maybe people love master artist, Scott Enter, maybe they love Halloween, likely it’s both, but all analysis tells us that you’re ready for more and we’re answering the demand!

The last new series will remain a surprise, but when we took a step back and looked at the big puzzle that is Department 56 – the one that looks like a quilt comprised of 50 years of individual puzzles – we saw an overlooked opportunity that we’re happy to be addressing in 2025 … rather, addressing in 2025, y’all!

I have faith that you’ll love what we have in store for you. From carryovers and expansions to fresh series and incredible licenses, my vision is that Department 56 has a home for everyone. I look forward to sharing more peeks inside soon, but in honor of this month’s theme, I encourage all of you to grab a puzzle, a pitcher of tea, and gather your family or friends for an afternoon of catching up and working on the big picture.

Until we gather again …

Tim Haney, VP of Product Development

Tim Haney, VP of Product Development @ Enesco / Dept 56

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