Note: This is an archive of "Papa" Ted Althof's online tribute to cardboard Christmas "putz" houses and their history. At Ted's request, this archive was established in early 2012. Except for critical updates and announcements, it will remain as Ted left it in October, 2012.
For more information, please scroll to the bottom of the page.

Christmas holly bar graphic



Christmas peppermin stick bar graphic

This is how the church looks with crenellations in place and the paint and sandy paint done. I took your advise, Ted and went out and got some fine sand and cleaned it and used it in the tinted paint.
Christmas village cardboard church
Below is my next project and it is worse than it looks. This was formerly an all coconut house and appears to have come from a Pittsburgh slum. It is from Pennsylvania and only cost $1.95 (best part of it). I like the architecture of it and it looks a little like a Catholic Order house. Even the "windoor" is an arched one. Wish me luck as it looks like a difficult project. Wish you guys could come up with some coconut! ! !
Christmas putz old broken house
This was a difficult task but not impossible. The spray "snow" that was put on it decades ago was particularly nasty and difficult to remove. It was necessary to remove it with a dull pocket knife as a toothbrush wouldn't touch it. When it was thick it could be lifted off with the knife but where thin or spotty it was difficult to remove. This was unfortunate as it also removed much of what little coconut was left on the roof. Basically what's left is the coco imbedded in the paint. It also proved impossible to remove it from the three smaller windows and salvage them. So I modified and used some of Kathi's paper mullion windows. Though not quite as large as the originals I think they look great. I also used kathi's "biscuit" trick in restoring the fence. It was necessary to remove all but the fences from the base floor and fog it with water and iron it to straighten it. If you have occasion to do this, DO use a paper towel between the ironing board AND between the iron and the base floor. This one had a generous portion of that old horse glue smeared all over the outline of the house ( ! ! ? ?) and it stuck to the paper towel and in pulling the paper towel off it removed great big chunks of the old glue. This house had been particularly sloppily constructed. Perhaps the work of a "newbie".
One thing I did have to do was go over the red and blue areas with "kids" watercolor paints to cover the white specks the fake spray snow had left behind as well as general soot and grime that cornstarching failed to remove. I like these paints as they are somewhat translucent and allow the coco to shine through. I left the back of the house untouched to preserve the difference between the restored and unrestored.
The base presented another problem as I don't know what color it was painted. The "lawn" was a turquoise light blue and the fence was a lime green but I thought the lime green continuation of the fence color into the base gave a more consistent look. I also used the sand mixed in with the new paint to give some texture to the green paint since we lack coconut to fix these things. This was tinted latex house paint.
Interestingly there were dribbles of blue paint on the INSIDE of the house untouched lo these many years. They were covered with coconut and under a magnifying glass these were fine STRIPS of cellophane. This got me to thinking that the blender idea may not give the same type of texture BUT that the SAME fine strips are still being used in the modern plastic versions of tinsel garland rope. If you could find out how they do that (cut the fine strips of plastic) then maybe you could use the same thing to make cellophane or get some company to do it for you. My sister Connie tells me that they make some very expensive crosscut shredders. Just an idea.
Christmas putz old broken house
Christmas putz old broken house
I use small sticky notes as a glue "pallet" to dip out small amounts of glue with a toothpick for repairing broken parts and paper windows on houses. When you are done you just tear off the note and throw it away. This is better than using bits of scrap card or paper as the sticky note pad holds itself down and doesn't lift. It doesn't bleed through either.
And ...
I use curved,serrated fingernail scissors to cut out curved parts such as on "rick rack" fencing. The serrations give positive no slip cutting and the curved blade allows for easy little curved cuts. Much easier than an "Aproximo Knife" and more accurate.
....Tom H.

Black Grit:

Just a note about that "black stuff" specks that occurs on some of the houses. I have purchased some black German glitter (fine grade) from Which has a number of colors of the old fashioned German glass glitter including clear in three grades. Fine, Medium and Coarse. The black glass glitter in fine is a perfect match for these particles.
To achieve the coarse sand look I mixed a little (very little) of the black German glass glitter with sifted white rock marble from a RR model train supply house and a generous quantity of the fine clear German glass glitter and this give a very good equivalent of the black spotted sandy base. I mixed it together and dumped it on the painted surface and it works very well. Hope this helps. Tom Hull
Black grit for cardboard Christmas village houses
Here is the finished product. I took some marble "rock" chips and ground some in the blender and mixed the sifted rock with the fine clear German glitter and a little dab of the black fine German glitter. I then used a thinned down "antique white" tinted white paint. And generously dumped the mixture over the paint (in sections). I did this over a piece of paper and caught the excess to reuse. It is pretty close in texture and size I think. The "yard" of the house is the original finish.
Black grit for cardboard Christmas village houses
The second picture illustrates a small hole in the lower left side of the base very close to the fence. Any ideas? A piece of lycopodium (all dried up) was included with this house. Would that have been stuck in here? There is no indication of any other spot where a tree would have been on this base.
Tom Hull

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Copyright 2000-2012 Theodore H. Althof,Jr.Except where noted, the contents of this website and all it's pages and submissions therein contained are the intellectual property of Theodore H.Althof,Jr. All rights are reserved. (Background musical selections are,of course, excepted.)

This archive was set up at Ted's request in early 2012, and, except for critical updates and
announcements, will remain as Ted left it in October, 2012.
The archive is kept online with the help of volunteers from the following affiliated sites and resources:
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit our collection of resources for collecting, restoring, and making your own cardboard Christmas houses. Return to the OldChristmasTreeLights Welcome page Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Visit Papa Ted Althof's extensive history and collection of putz houses, the largest and most complete such resource on the Internet. Craft and collectibles blog with local news of Croton NY.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories.
- Trains and Hobbies -
Visit the Internet's largest resource on choosing and displaying Christmas trains. Visit Lionel Trains. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages.
Learn about backyard railroading with Family Garden Trains
Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
Resources for O gauge and On30 model railroading
- Music -
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips. Own a guitar, banjo, or mandolin?  Want to play an instrument?  Tips to save you money and time, and keep your instrument playable.
The struggles and influences of early Jesus Musicians and others who laid the groundwork for the Christian music and worship that is part of our lives today.