How to Create a Lit Centerpiece with Dept. 56 Houses

Yesterday after sharing this table setting for Tablescape Thursday, I received a few emails and some comments from folks asking how I handled the wiring/lighting for the lit mercury-glass trees.

Christmas Table Setting Tablescape in Red Dining Room


Another question I received was regarding the little glowing orbs. Someone asked if they were actually lit or just reflecting light from the trees.

Holiday Table Setting Tablescape in Silver and Green


The lighting was actually really easy to do–nothing high-tech. But first, let’s look back in time to another table setting with a lit centerpiece.

Remember this Christmas table setting with lit houses from December 2009? To date, this is still the most fun I have ever had creating a centerpiece for a tablescape. πŸ™‚

Christmas Table Setting with Dept. 56 Lit Houses


The lighting for this table was handled in a similar way to how I managed it for the trees in yesterday’s table. If you missed this table setting, you’ll find it here: Christmas Table Setting with Dept 56 Lit Houses Centerpiece

Holiday Table Setting with Lenox Holiday and Waterford Crystal


So, how did I handle the lighting for this past Dept. 56 table setting and for the one yesterday with the lit mercury-glass trees and orbs? Let’s start with the glowing orbs, those were indeed lit and weren’t just reflecting the light from the trees.

Christmas Tablescape with Mercury Glass Christmas Trees and Cedar Garland


They were lit by LED lights, operated via a battery box tucked underneath a few layers of cedar. That’s all that was needed for those. I just tucked all the cords for the lights down into the cedar garland, as best I could. Super easy!

Battery Powered Globes


For the lighting of the mercury glass trees,

Christmas Table Setting Tablescape with Mercury Glass Trees and Silver Glitter Deer


I placed a separate strand of lights up inside each tree. Notice the cutout on the right side. These Pottery Barn lit trees are designed to accommodate lights…not all mercury glass trees are. So if you want yours to be lit, make sure you buy trees with open bottoms and trees that are designed to handle the heat from the lights.

Lighting Inside of Mercury Glass Houses


I ran the lighting cords from the trees underneath the cedar garland to a crack I left between the leaves in the table.

Space between leaves for wiring


Here’s how it look underneath the table, all three cords piggy-back plugged into each other and plugged into an extension cord.

Under Table


So, this meant I had one cord running out from under the table to an outlet that’s located under the sideboard/mirror. I created this table for Tablescape Thursday but in the past when I’ve created a table with a lit centerpiece where folks were actually going to be dining, I put tape over the cord on the floor to make sure no one tripped over it.  It’s such a short distance from the table to the sideboard in my little dining room, that this works fine.

If you don’t want any electrical cords coming out from under your table or you would have to run one way too far across a room to make this work, I’m sure you can purchase battery-operated lights for your trees. I haven’t shopped for those but I’m sure they are out there.

Holiday Table Setting Tablescape in Silver and Green


This is very similar to the way I lit the houses when I created the Dept. 56 centerpiece. Each house is lit individually. As I recall, I plugged each cord from each house into its neighboring house, piggyback style. The cords all ran behind the houses down the center of the table out of view of my guests. I had left just enough space along the back side of the houses to accommodate the cords. I also cut greenery from the yard to create two little “trees” and that helped to camouflage the cords even more.

Christmas Table Setting with Dept. 56 Lit Houses


Again, I left a crack between the leaves of the table to accommodate the few cords that needed to go through and I plugged those into a single extension cord under the table, running it to the outlet under the sideboard. You can see the size crack needed to accommodate the cords there to the left of the knife. It doesn’t take a very big space.

Christmas Table Setting with Lenox Holiday China and Dept. 56 Lit Houses Centerpiece


Hope you found this post helpful for your lit centerpieces. You’ll find the table setting with the lit Dept. 56 houses here: Christmas Table Setting with Dept 56 Lit Houses Centerpiece. There are lots of close-ups so grab a cup of hot chocolate and be prepared to enter another world. πŸ™‚

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  1. Juanita in OH says

    WOW, WOW, WOW!!! This is the most spectacular and beautiful tablescapes I have ever seen…it is like wonderland and takes me back to such an innocent time in life. TFS!

  2. You know I love this, Susan. Sparkly and Special. You are welcome to link your holiday posts with us for Pink Saturday this month.β™₯

  3. Wow! The most beautiful table scape of all. Do you put your Dept. 56 up every year? I just learned of a site I wanted to share with you, The Grommet. Search wine glass shades. They are amazing to me. Have you heard of it? Kay

    • No, not since my son is grown and gone. I’d love to find a way to display them year around. It’s kind of shame to have to put them up. No, I don’t think I’ve heard of that site. Will have to check it out!

  4. Susan, you have outdone yourself. Both are gorgeous.

  5. Love, Love, Love this post. I do plan on using some of the clear (white) battery powered lights this year. I have used the colored battery lights for several years. They do keep improving them every year. I will have to check the bottoms of my mercury trees and see if there is a hole for wiring. I absolutely adore the Christmas house holiday table, It may become my new favorite. Back in the day, I did a Christmas Village scape with well over a hundred houses plus a village in the Christmas tree. It has been ten years since I have put up a village (since we downsized out of a place to put one). I can’t help but love your tablescape those little houses are dear to my heart. Good news on the Walmart salad plates, I finally found six that match (they actually had more than 12). I also found the mother load on mercury glass candle holders at my favorite closeout store, I bought gold, green, red, and silver. Only 1.99 & 2.99 each. I will be giving most of them away at Christmas (after I do some tablescapes of course).

    • Wow! Over 100 houses…that must have been an amazing village! Would love to have seen that! Candy, did you know there’s a FB group for Dept. 56 houses? I’ve love seeing the pictures they’ve been posting on the FB page. So glad you found the plates! They would even work well mixed in a table setting since they are similar colors. Which pattern did you buy? They are probably trying to restock as quickly as they can. lol I think all the BNOTP readers are buying them out! πŸ˜‰

      • I certainly think BNOTP has something with Walmart not being able to keep these lovely salad plates on their shelf. I found the farmhouse plates and I am very happy with them. I am going to see if I can get my old film cartridges with my village pictures put on disk, I hope it is not very expensive, I took many hundreds of pictures through the years. What is FB?

  6. Susan-
    Your centerpieces/tablescapes are always ones to admire and I’m sure, always imitated! I have a question unrelated to lighting or centerpieces: why do you not use a tablecloth?

  7. Who knew!!! Now we know!!! πŸ™‚ franki

  8. Thank you so much for posting this very helpful information. I loved the picture of the village on the table. So clever!

  9. Susan, this is so pretty! It’s magical! Thank you for showing us how you set these up. Both tablescapes are stunning!

  10. Susan, this is so beautiful. I love anything Pottery Barn. I have a question about the little deer on the table. They are so cute and adorable. Where did you find them.

    • Thanks, Winona! I found them in Marshalls very recently…I saw them in another Marshalls a few days later. So if you have one near you, you may be able to find them. They were $19.99 each. They are really heavy and substantial feeling, which I like.

  11. Katherines Corner says

    Gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xo

  12. I have been wanting to do something different with my Dept 56 pieces and you solved that for me. Thank you so much!!! I’m also happy to know there is a FB group. I can always count on being inspired when I come to visit you as well as being educated. My family is going to think I’ve had too much of my special egg nog,(insert childlike giggle)!

  13. I remember tha you told us about running the wires under the table but this is a good refresher. All of our Dept. 56 houses, ta were on the train board are still packed. MAYBE someday, Joe will ge the trains set up again. It was SO pretty….

  14. Just beautiful! I just adore the table setting with your beautiful houses. I have a few. I really would like to get the new Governor’s Mansion from Williamsburg. Susan, you just have the best ideas ! I am always amazed and always wowed. Thanks for sharing. I so look forward to all your posts.

  15. I have been viewing your blog for several years. This is my first time commenting. I have been visiting home decorating blogs for at least 3 years. Don’t think I’ve missed many.
    The first time I saw your table centerpiece of the Dept. 56 village pieces my heart skipped a beat! Hands down, it is the single most magical, whimsical, gorgeous, fun centerpiece of all time. I know, I know, that probably sounds a bit over the top, but with this many years and these many blogs I have yet to see it topped. Not even by you! πŸ™‚
    Your home is gorgeous, you are extremely talented and your Dept. 56 centerpiece will remain my very most favorite of all time. I can’t imagine what could replace the magic of that table! I would linger for hours in it’s fun and delightful presence. Thank you for your blog, it always brings joy.

    • That’s the nicest thing anyone could ever say…that’s always my goal, so thank you so much for those kind words! It’s still my fave table, too. It’s funny because I had been dreaming of doing that table for quite a while and I was determined to not let another Christmas pass without attempting it. I came home after a long trip out of town and went right to work putting it together. Despite all the driving I had done coming back home, I was having so much fun putting it together, I wasn’t even tired. It is a special table to me so it means a lot to hear that it touches your heart, too. Thanks again for your dear comment!

  16. Your creations are totally extraordinaire Susan and leaving a crack in the table to the run wire for the lighting is sheer genius! (Slapping my forehead with my palm and asking myself, ‘ now why didn’t I think of that’ …. ☺)
    With that said, I can imagine what you could do with 5 meters (16 feet) of LED Flexible Ribbon lights. Hugs -Brenda-
    Footnote: The latter as you might already know can be cut to any length and are run off AA Cell Battery Packs. carry them. Great for converting conventional ‘accent lamps’ into battery operated ones in event placement is not near an electrical outlet.

  17. Bobbi Duncan says

    Thank you for this trip down memory lane…two of the most gorgeous Christmas table settings ever! I love that you can now get the individual battery-powered light for each house, which makes it less cluttered than all the cords, and especially perfect if you wish to use the houses as the centerpiece. We have quite a few Dept. 56 houses ( Dickens, Norman Rockwell’s 1940’s/1950’s village and a Halloween village). Now that we’re in smaller quarters I can’t put all of them out, so using them at the table some years and in multiple rooms allows us to still enjoy most of them. A few years ago I purchased some adorable houses/buildings made by Lenox, called Mistletoe Park, which I have on a lowboy in the guest bedroom. They really cozy-up that bedroom and their ivory color goes with everything…it has that winter wonderland look. They also match perfectly w/ the ivory of all our formal Lenox china when using them as a centerpiece. We just love seeing the villages all lit up…it’s like you’re in a magical little Christmas place. Hugs!

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