Paper Crafts: Building Putz Houses: Part 1

Yesterday I posted about making Christmas ornaments from greeting cards. I mentioned that I would also be dabbling with making Putz Houses.  What is a Putz House, you ask?  It’s basically a tiny Christmas Village.  Small cardboard houses used as decorations became popular in the mid-20 century, eventually replaced by light-up porcelain (Department 56) collectibles as you know them today.

While searching the web for other projects I could make using greeting cards, I entered the world of Putz Houses, and thanks to Pinterest became quite obsessed with them.  They have quite a following as people have discovered old cardboard houses from yesteryear and want to restore them, or hobbyists want to make new ones.

Today they are often called Glitter Houses. Howard Lamey, a huge glitter house enthusiast, even maintains a website completely devoted to them which I discovered is the “go-to place” for all things related.  Check it out at for instructions, templates, tips, and more. However, this is not the site that got me started!

Rhonda Coulter, who runs a website called Christmas Notebook, has a page on her site devoted to making putz houses from old greeting cards, and this is what first inspired me. She also has a section on making the traditional “glitter houses,” but you can find the greeting card post here.  As you will see, she even uses one of Howard Lamey’s patterns called the stone cottage.

Unfortunately, I started with a different pattern so I had a bit of difficulty with my first house. I actually used Howard’s suggested beginner pattern. You’ll notice, unlike the stone cottage pattern, there are no glue flaps, no roof flap, and no floor. As you can imagine, it took a lot more work to assemble it and glue it together. Most glitter houses won’t have a floor though because you are supposed to build a base for them and add outdoor embellishments like fences and trees. As a beginner though, I wish I’d followed Rhonda’s instructions first and used her suggested pattern which was much better!

Rhonda’s instructions are already detailed and so easy to follow, so I’m not going to go over them again here. Like her, I chose cards that were large enough to accommodate the entire pattern, though I did discover it’s easy to fudge a bit on the top fold that makes up the roof because you are just going to cut a larger piece to glue over the top for the overhang. Rhonda mentions this as well in her post.

putz1After following her steps the second time, the next house was much easier to assemble and glue, which quickly led to me going ahead and making two more. Here is the full picture of the four houses I made over the weekend. These are not completely done though.  I still have to add glitter so there will be another finished photo to follow!

The house on the left in the back is the very first one I made. As you an see, I added a piece of a card to the bottom for its base since it did not have one. The other three do have bottoms though, so I will probably not add additional bases to them.

Rhonda also does not add chimneys to the houses she makes, though I kind of like those little details. Hers are much more like the one I made in the very back.  The one thing I did differently though was leave a door instead of completely cutting it out. If you look close at the three houses in the back, they all have little doors that I left open.

The church in the front turned out better than I expected!  I used a nativity greeting card and the pattern lined up perfectly on it. The door I cut out was even the front door of the building pictured. The base of the church is the same stone cottage pattern, but for the steeple I used  the additional pattern that Howard has to turn his beginner glitter house into a church. You’ll find it on this page.

Up next I’m going to use Howard’s “Little Charmer” pattern which experiments with additional add-on pieces to the base of the houses. I’m also going to continue practicing by making more of these basic greeting card houses to turn into Christmas ornaments which I’ll probably give away to loved ones this year. Eventually, I’ll experiment with the decorative bases and move on to making full glitter houses from cardboard.

I have glitter arriving in the mail tomorrow, so check back in a few days to see the four houses pictured in their final complete stage!


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