If you love making crafty holiday decorations — and also love mid century architecture — this Retro Crafty is for you. It is a take on the miniature, vintage dime store cardboard houses commonly used, back in the day, to decorate the window sills and mantels of many homes during the holiday season. In my family, we know these as ‘putz houses’ — I’m told it’s ‘putz’ as in ‘puttering’ around. My family has a small, treasured collection — all passed down from my grandmother. Traditionally, these miniature architectural studies have never included mid century houses — until now. Using materials that you probably already have around your house, a few small additions from the craft store and my free downloadable pattern — you can start building your own mini mid mod mad Christmas village.
- Cereal box
- Cardboard box
- Tissue paper (Kleenex or toilet paper can also be used)
- Paint (any kind you have around that can be used on cardboard)
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks (can also use craft glue of any sort)
- Felt squares (white for snow and grey for sidewalk)
- Scissors, X-acto knife, ruler
- Transfer paper or charcoal (to use for transferring design onto cardboard)
- Bottle brush trees (I got a bag of 8 small trees in three sizes from Michaels for $1.99)
- Beads or other small objects to decorate trees
- Flameless (battery operated) tea light to place inside house
Step 1: Trace or glue pattern to cardboard
Step 2: Cut out house pattern and lightly scour folds
Now that your image is transferred to the cereal box, you can cut out the pieces.
Use the same method to transfer the roof template to a piece of cardboard box. (Note: you could also use cereal box, but I prefer the thicker box for the roof because it adds dimension to the roofline.)
Step 3: Paint the house
Step 4: Assemble house on base
Step 5: Landscape the yard
Using food coloring and water, the mini bottle brush trees can be dyed any color you would like. (Note: using red food coloring will yield a pink tree — the food coloring is not strong enough to make dark colored trees.)
If you like, now is the time to decorate your mini trees. You can use beads from an old necklace or cut apart some holiday garland like I did to use for tree decorations. Use your hot glue gun to attach the decorations to the mini trees.
All that’s left now is to put a flameless (battery operated) tea light into the back of the house and ta-da! Precautionary Pam reminds: Don’t overload this puppy with wattage and don’t leave it lighted unattended.
Wouldn’t you like to live in this tiny holiday ranch home? It looks so warm and inviting. This would be a great retro crafty project for holiday get togethers: Using minimal money and resources you could easily host a holiday housebuilding party for friends and family — and create a whole new generation of putz houses for your kids and grandkids to enjoy!
Make a whole neighborhood of mid century “Putz” style houses:
- #1 — Ranch house putz house pattern — includes DIY instructions and resource list
- #2 — Mid century A-frame putz house pattern
- #3 — Ranch house putz house pattern
- #4 — Split-level putz house pattern
- #5 — Storybook ranch putz house pattern
- #6 — Tom Thumb Cape Cod putz house pattern
- #7 — Butterfly roof ranch putz house pattern
- #8 — Tiki hut putz house pattern
- #9 – Palm Springs rick rack roof putz house pattern
- Or — see all 9 designs all in just one click
- Want to know why these houses called “Putz”? Read our vintage Putz house history and online guide.