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.

-by Tom Hull

It seems a simple enough thing to do, and many times it is - but other times they are in such awkward and inaccessible places you just wonder HOW?
* - The insights that help most are the ones you get by "back-engineering" these little houses, that is - figuring out the order in which the various parts were put together in the first place. It seems evident that the houses and bases were assembled and painted separately. Putting in the windows was about 2nd to the the last step before the house was glued down to the base. Piece o'cake! You had easy access to everything at that stage of assembly! But once they have been glued down to the base it becomes a whole "different ball-game!", so - if you have a house off it's base that needs doors and windows, consider yourself lucky! Do everything you need to do to that house and base before you glue them down together.

* - Many have been the times, however, when many of us have had to take a hobby knife or surgical scalpel and very carefully cut under roof edges and open roofs - or even take whole houses of their bases to get access. Sometimes you can get away with not having to match colors and repaint by making the cuts in hidden areas under roof eaves etc.,- but other times no. This is where skill and practice (and personal pride) really grow.

* - Assuming we now have access, it becomes a matter of preparing the inside sufaces of the opening. The first thing is to smooth the inside edges to receive the new replacement. There will almost always be remnants of the old, brittle animal glue clinging there, fragments of the old paper or cellophane. You must get all that out with hobby knives, dental picks - whatever it takes. Then, after all that, the cardboard edge is seldom flat and even. I sometimes use tiny Swiss "jewelers" files to acheive additional smoothing, but be careful not to leave visible nicks in the outline of the "frame." The idea is that when we put the window/door into place, it will lie smooth and flat.

* - Now we choose the door or window and by trial and trial again, trim it to fit the space under reconstruction so that no corner causes it to be lifted away from the inside of the frame, or get in the way of the next window we'll want to do. We then lay a bead of glue around the inside of the cardboard opening ( I use flat toothpicks: little blobs at a time.) For paper doors and windows - white glue like "Elmer's" or "Elmers Carpenter Glue," or Aleene's "Tacky-glue" are fine. As always with glue - the object is to use the minimum, but still enough. Sometimes - even after having surgically opened a house - it still isn't always child's play to get that window into position without smearing a bit of glue onto what shows. Get your toothpicks and get those little blobs off immediately!- before they harden. Once I am satisfied with the positioning, i will try to get my fingertip behind and tamp it onto the cardboard frame for a little "sink-in" pressure. But the paper doors and windows are easy and forgiving. The white glue is very strong with paper and at just a few points it will hold them fine.
Next: go to a movie, do 20 push-ups, start a rumor about somebody - then come back for the next window. My POINT: TAKE YOUR TIME! - These little houses are older than most of us and if we do it right now - they will be here long afterwe are - posing curious, out-of-the-box questions that may just save some future human youth from an "Orwellian" robotic corporate nightmare future.


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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.