Creating a Glittery Christmas Village

Putz collage Did you know that these glittery little cardboard houses (putz houses) have been around for 130 years or so?  Did you know that the word “putz” is a German word meaning “put” that in the German-American vernacular can mean “putter”, as in “How long are you going to keep “putzing” around with those houses?” And did you know that between 1880 and 1928 most putz houses were actually candy boxes?  These facts and a lot of other fascinating history on putz houses can be found at Cardboard Christmas, a wonderful site filled with information about these houses and resources for buying or building your own.

I first started loving these little glitter houses as a child when I saw them under my Aunt Gert’s Christmas tree.  Do you have any “magical” Christmas memories?  This was one of them for me.  I’d forgotten all about them though until their recent resurgence in popularity when I decided that I would like to create a glitter village of my own. You can buy brand new glitter houses in many places (maybe you’ve seen those in the Pottery Barn catalog).  Vintage putz houses which are mostly Japanese made can be found online, as well as plans to build your own, or you can buy pre-assembled houses to decorate yourself.  That’s what I decided to do.

Putz Houses 056 These are the houses I just finished for the mantle in my new home.

Christmas Mantle with Putz Houses 012 I’m sad that you can’t see from my pictures how much they really glitter and sparkle, or their depth of color, but I just couldn’t capture them well with my camera.

Christmas Mantle with Putz Houses 016 Some of the close-ups may give you a better idea of what they look like “in person” and I’ll share those with you later in the post, after this little tutorial.  If you have no interest in making putz houses yourself then you can fast forward to see them right now.

Putz Houses B4 001 This was my village as it came in the mail, ordered off a site on Etsy called Little Village HousesThe full village was only $37.00.

Putz Houses 001 So, let’s get started:

The first thing I did was to paint them with white craft paint.

Putz Houses 005 After the paint was dry I painted one surface at a time . . .

Putz Houses 004 . . . with Martha Stewart glittering glue, which is similar in consistency to Mod Podge.

Glitter Nutcracker 001 This is the Martha Stewart glitter set I got last Christmas.  As I said in my Glittery Nutcracker post, there are less expensive glitters but Martha’s colors are the best!

Putz Houses 006 The glitter is applied by lightly shaking it over the glue.  I gave the bottle little taps with my finger to control how much glitter is released.

Putz Houses 011 I did the main part of the house first and let it dry completely before glittering the roof.  Here again you can see that I painted one section at a time with glue so the glitter could be applied while the glue was still very wet.

Putz Houses 010 After giving the glittered house a few taps to allow the excess glitter to fall back onto the paper I worked over I scrinched the paper together to make a little crevice so I could poor the excess back into the bottle for another use.  This glitter really goes a long way.  I think glittered acorns are next!

Putz Houses 002 I decided I wanted windows in my houses.  Many glitter houses have really fancy windows but in the interest of time I used what was on hand, good old wax paper.

Putz Houses 007 I cut a rectangular piece of wax paper for one section of the house at a time and for the houses that had peeks I placed the wax paper on top of the front of the house and lightly ran my paint brush handle over the peeks .  .  .

Putz Houses 008 .  .  . which created a faint pattern . . .

Putz Houses 009 . . . for me to cut my wax paper into the shape I needed.

Putz Houses 006a Next I applied glue with my paint brush to the inside of the house and carefully slide the wax paper in and pressed it in place.

Putz Houses 010a This is a step that I should have done before putting in the windows but you can learn from my mistakes! After all the houses had dried completely I decided to add some detailing around the windows and doors.  I painted glue around one window or door at a time and then shook on the glitter.  When I tapped off the excess some glitter still remained on the windows so I used a dry paintbrush to brush off any remaining glitter.

Putz Houses 011a Next . . . I decided I wanted my windows to have panes.  Some glitter houses have very fancy window panes made with more glue and glitter or with tiny pieces of wood or paper.  I chose the easy route and drew my panes with a white gel pen.

Putz Houses 012 I know, they aren’t perfect but that isn’t even noticed once the village is set up.

Following are several close-ups of individual houses that I placed along my mantle.  I used only white, silvers and blues as I wanted my village to look frozen, here in mild SC.

Putz Houses 007a

Putz Houses 003

Putz Houses 008a

Putz Houses 023

Putz Houses 043

Putz Houses 044

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Putz Houses 047

Putz Houses 048

Putz Houses 049

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Putz Houses 052

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Putz Houses 056 Each of these houses has a hole in the back where an electric light or battery operated votive can be inserted.  I think that would really add to the ambiance.  I’ve created a Glitter (putz) House board on Pinterest where I’ve pinned ideas for adding more detail to glitter houses and more tutorials for making your own, including patterns that can be downloaded.  Though mine is simple for now I think that my village will most likely evolve over the years into something a bit more extravagant!

Putz Houses on Mantel 002

Nighttime falls and the spotlight falls on my Putz Village.  Again, I wish I could capture in pictures how much it really sparkles.

Putz Houses on Mantle 005

Putz Houses on Mantle 004 It has been so much fun decorating for Christmas in preparation for my two daughters and my son-in-law who will be coming (from California and New York) to see our new home for the first time. Though it is so very different than our lake house and living in Washington State I’m praying that they’ll still feel like this is “home”.  I’ll be back with one more post before Christmas, showing my Christmas decor, before taking some time off to enjoy my family.

Blessings to you my friends as you prepare your home and your hearts for Christmas,

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