I have a lot of Dept 56 pieces, and Lemax pieces. The 56 pieces are more finely crafted but I think Lemax has more creative and they are certainly more prolific.
Every now and then though Lemax comes out with a world class stellar piece (eg Motis Theater) that I think trumps most of D56's stuff. And it appears they got one for this year: Mt Gloom Observatory
I am SO excited!!!