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 trees bar graphic

A simple method.
-Tom Hull


Very often on these old houses the trees have faded badly even though the house may be pristine. Apparently the dyes they used were not very color fast. This method uses readily available materials but is a fairly easy project.

Restoring trees on cardboard Christmas village 
This house shows these badly faded, and brittle luffa trees. The small piece will be used also and later glued to the top of the left tree. I removed these well glued on trees by prying them off with the screwdriver shown at the lower left.

Restoring trees on cardboard Christmas putz 
You start this process by first soaking them in water as at this stage they are somewhat fragile.

Restoring trees on cardboard Christmas village 
After soaking till they are soft you take them out and let them dry off a bit as the luffa tree is doing in the background. I then squirt some dark green latex paint on the tree. This is available from the craft department at the local Wal-Mart.

Restoring trees on cardboard Christmas village 
I then mush the paint into the sponge until it is well dispersed. Notice the latex gloves which are also available at the local Wal-mart. HIGHLY recommended!

Restoring trees on cardboard Christmas village 
I then dunk the tree into the water to dilute excess paint in the tree.

Restoring trees on cardboard Christmas village 
The tree is then blotted to remove the excess water and paint.

Restoring trees on cardboard Christmas village 
After drying I usually re-glue the trees and then brush on some white latex paint that I have tinted with a touch of black to knock down the over brightness of the paint. Notice that the tree on the left is standing straight now. All that is left to do with this house isto install a some of Papa Ted's Windows and this will be ready for another 75 years.
Christmas holly bar graphic

Making NEW Trees:

A lot of times they're just plain gone, especially those up on trunks. The only thing to do is replace them. It really isn't bad, in fact it rates high as a fun craft project, I think. Introducing:

loofah for making Christmas house trees
AKA: "loofah," "lufa" "Lou Faugh." The spelling hasn't been agreed upon. It's a sort of Southeast Asian gourd/vegetable that looks like a large zucchini while growing, are edible when small, but are mainly valued for the tough, fiberous skeletons they leave behind - prized for their talent and durability as a bath scrubbing pad. Nothing excells them for their ability to remove cellulite and dead skin. A whole one is about the size of - and looks like - a french breadloaf. I used to be able to get them at Pier One Imports years ago, but lately all I seem to find are pieces like these.
Restoring loofah trees on cardboard Christmas village 
Actually, not all that you see in the upper picture is really useable for trees. The outer "rind" is very dense and doesn't look right. I get my best tree material from the "heart" and the radials coming out from it. Getting the most out of a given luffa is an art you develope like carving a turkey. The pieces above were made by gluing radials back-to-back. The two piece 2nd and 3rd from the right are radial strips before gluing. You then cut a size and shape to be the tree you want and paint as per Tom's description above or do as I do and just immerse them in the paint jar, soak for an hour or so, them bring them up to drip-dry on toothpicks.
When your piece is dry, You may need an ice-pick or awl to poke a hole up through the bottom to accept the "trunk." Some houses used actual twigs for trunks, other times it's heavy wire wrapped in tissue and painted. You can then highlight the branch tips with white paint and even stick a red plaster "holly-berry" on top if the size and style of the house warrants it.
A tree made by this method can be seen on the January,2002:House of the Month.
Restoring trees on cardboard Christmas village 
I like to blend my tree paint for a very dark forest green. It's hard to tell what the colors truly were back then because of fading, but the darker greens were characteristic of PreWar Christmas. (See January,2002 "House of the Month" for other views.)
- "Papa" Ted
Christmas trees bar graphic
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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.