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.

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More and more folks are building missing parts and even whole new houses from scratch. It's really catching on! Check these out!


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Great houses are sometimes found with the base missing. In this case, you can peruse the pictures on this site to find the right dimensions and see what it should look like. Or, you can build a whole new house. It begins with a base. This is how it's done:

Christmas putz house base reconstruction
The pattern has been drawn and the cardboard cut to size and edge-creased at the corners. The basic box has been drawn into shape.

Christmas putz house base reconstruction
Note that the cardboard bottom "plate" has been set center and glued uniformly to the covering paper. For this, Tom found tissue paper too insubstantial and typing paper too heavy. He found some old "proofing paper" at a local newspaper.

Christmas putz house base reconstruction
Placing the all-important "U" strips that keep it from caving in.

Christmas putz house base reconstruction
Closing it up ....

Christmas putz house base reconstruction
The proof paper covering.

Moving on ...

Although a post pattern has been included it is far easier to make them a lot at a time in one strip.
Christmas putz house fence reconstruction
You will first need to lay out the posts on a piece of cardboard. the dimension of the posts are 1 1/16" high with each side being 1/2". As 6 posts are needed a 12" ruler will be all you will need as the picture below shows.
Christmas putz house fence reconstruction
Notice that there are marks every 1/2' inch on TWO sides. If you have aligned everything right this will work perfectly.
Christmas putz house fence reconstruction
In this picture the linier dimension has been laid out and we are ready to mark and score the fence post fold lines. The ruler is in place for the next line and I will mark it with the pen and after that score the line with this little screwdriver. I usually give about 3 or 4 firm passes with the blade of the screwdriver to score a line on the card. You must ALWAYS SCORE ALL FOLD LINES BEFORE CUTTING OUT. Trust me on this.
Christmas putz house fence reconstruction
This shows the post strip cut off and sectioned into 6 pieces of 4 sides each. Since it has been well scored it is a simple proposition to fold up into a square post and glue together holding with a rubber band. To finish the post all that is need is a 5/8" square piece of cardboard for a cap. Again I would lay them out on the cardboard together and cut them out, as it is simpler than drawing around the pattern for each cap.


This first photo shows patterns cut out and ready to lay out the second part of the fence.
Christmas putz house fence reconstruction
In cutting out the patterns it is a good idea to try and trim off as much of the black line as possible. To use the pattern you lay it out on your cardboard and trace around it. When cutting out the cardboard it is also a good idea to trim off the traced line as well. If in your cutting you don't do this you will experience "pattern creep" in which the pattern is enlarged with each transfer and getting things to fit - expecially on the roof and house could be difficult. This photo shows a simple way of transfering the port hole pattern to the cardboard. Of cource you can use carbon paper but just scribbling on the back of the pattern where the holes are is sufficient. Then you just put the pattern back down and trace over the circles on the pattern. It is also a good idea to retrace the circles with your pencil so that they show up better for the next operation of cutting the holes.
Christmas putz house fence reconstruction
In this photo you can see that I am using a center hole punches of graduated sizes. Further the punch is being used against a piece of wood. In punching the holes out I put the first hole in the center so that the center-line is extablished. In the case of the 5 hole piece of fence the second holes are the outside holes and finally the mid distance holes are punched. In using this method it is necessary to wet the cardboard for two reasons. Firstly it makes it easier to punch through and get a clean cut and secondly there is less deforming of the cardboard around the punched hole. Of course you may not want to do this and you can use an ordinary paper punch or an exacto knife but investing in a cheap set of "made in China" hole punches like those tool "dig bins" in hardware and home stores may be a good idea. That is what these are and they are adequate for this operation.
Christmas putz house fence reconstruction
If you don't use the hole punches you can skip this step. I use an Iron to dry out and straighten the piece of fence. The fence should be very dry before glueing as if it is not thoroughly dried out it will warp after you have the fence together and ready to put on the base.
Christmas putz house fence reconstruction
This shows how I glued the fence "rail" strips of cardboard on the fence. I found it easier to put the rail on the fence before glueing to the fence posts. Also using this method you can cut off the excess and have a good fitting strip. Of cource the next step is to glue them onto the box "platform" base.


Christmas putz church steeple 
Tom has laid out the pattern and cut the cardboard for his new big twin steeple church.
Christmas putz church steeple 
Complete except for the windows,landscaping and snow highlights.

Christmas putz church home made
And here is the completed piece. It's large! 7 1/2" wide by 4 5/8" deep and 8" high. You ought to see this thing in person. It's astounding! There is a kind of story behind it. No twin steepled church like this is known from the Japanese. My young computer whiz nephew Chris, while making some of the graphics banners you see on this site, lifted images from Antoinette's first mantel putz on the Main Page. At the extreme right, a second church is partly hidden by the one in front, and the image lifted as a church with two steeples. Several collectors mentioned it, but we all agreed that if such a church never did exist, it should have. And so now it does!

Christmas putz church home made
Another original that Tom has made.
Amazing! What workmanship!

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Tom is not the only builder of whole new houses from scratch. I am getting more and more e-mails from people who are taking up the hobby. The two below are but part of the pictures sent me by Ted Howard of Callhan, Florida:

Original home made Christmas putz house Original home made Christmas putz house

Original home made Christmas putz house Original home made Christmas putz house

Thanks for sending my orders to me quickly. I've been fixing up a few things I recently found on vacation -- boy is this addicting!
If also starting playing with some construction from scratch. I've attached some JPEGs just for fun. The little blue house (on the short platform) was my first attempt. My second house is the pink one with the blue roof. The third one is the more complex house with the little girl I made in front. The last one (I'm just finishing up) is the white church in which I've used your windows. Except for the windows in the church, I've made everything else: houses, finishing, painting, trees, figure, paper doors (hand drawn on my computer from scanned originals on my old houses) -- takes a lot of time to do these things! But it's fun.
Anyway, keep up the good work and keep supply all of us "addicts" with a great site and great products.
-Ted Howard, Callahan, FL"
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Howard Lamey
Jacksonville, Florida

Howard has made all the houses on his putzes by hand, - taking his cues from the old ones, but creating his own interpretations. Original home made Christmas putz house
A look at his tools. Of note are the sharpened wood chisels of varying widths. These make quick work of creating rectangular and slit window openings, leaving very clean, very straight edges with a light hammer stroke.

"Actually, you do not have to use a hammer to cut through cardboard...if your chisels are sharp you can just apply a downward and line up the sharp end on the opening layout line with one hand and push down with the other.. .i usually stand up when i cut openings...just be careful...give it a try..."
- Howard

"I just want to re-inforce Howard's advice on chisels. It would be worth your while to buy a cheap or used set of chisels(1/4" to 1 1/2") and take the time to put a fine edge on them.If you do it right, they will cut like a hot knife through butter without hammering. If you find yourself resorting to a hammer - STOP! A dull chisel can be extremely dangerous. To cut the round window tops, go to McMaster-Carr ( and you'll find various sizes of round leather punches and nylon cutting matts. These can be a bit pricey, but they're almost essential. You'll wonder how you ever did without them. By the way, these will require hammering, no matter how sharp.
I use .042" chipboard for my houses. I find that it's very close to the thickness of the originals(which vary somewhat) and it's very sturdy, especially under the weight of glass glitter or sand.
I hope you'll find some of this info useful."
- Karl Fey

"Just a quick the best of my knowledge, the hole punch "backer pads" talked about on several of the web sites that sell punches is the same off-white , milky looking cutting boards you find in the housewares and cooking sections of your local grocery store, super market or mass retailer (target, wal-mart, k-mart)...they just cost less than some of the ones you can order via the web... you may even have one at home right now...give it a try!"
- Howard
Original home made Christmas putz house
Two constructed awaiting paint and glitter, and a finished church in the middle.
Original home made Christmas putz house Original home made Christmas putz house
Howard does not make these to sell, and so far has made no two alike. Treasures tohand down through the family some day.

It shows what can be done at home. This "low" technology is not beyond the reach of folks like you and me. With the interest and a bit of practice, you have a great and satisfying hobby!

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The "Inner Howard"
The underlying work

here Howard shows us the painstaking layout markings underlying his finished houses. Original home made Christmas putz house Original home made Christmas putz house
Thanks for these, Howard! They provide key insights!

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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.