If you’re of a certain age—or a big fan of vintage Christmas decorations—you’ve seen the glitter-covered villages filled with “putz houses.” Bracketed by bottle brush trees and glowing from within (thanks to strings of twinkle lights), they covered mantles and popped up under trees. “I’d been collecting these because I have a connection to them through my grandma,” Hallmark Designer Natalie G. tells us. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if we could put these on cards?’ Instead of photographing the original, we decided to do a workshop—and everyone on our team jumped on board.”
Natalie, Art Director Miriam C., and their coworkers made their own houses, put them on cards…and now they’re sharing their instructions and original templates with you.
How to make a glittery putz house
“I was kind of looking at their construction and thought, ‘This isn’t that hard,'” Natalie tells us. “I started making pencil sketches, cutting and folding and putting them together. Once you do one, you start to understand the basic construction.” She provided Think.Make.Share with a few templates for the houses she created for greeting cards.
Note: The supplies list looks a little long, but includes a lot of stuff found in the average craft stash.
SUPPLIES FOR GLITTER HOUSES
Copier and copy paper
Transfer paper (optional)
Glitter (in clear or iridescent, or in the house color you want, or ALL OF THE GLITTER)
White craft glue
Hot glue gun and glue sticks (optional)
Material for windows (tracing paper or vellum, cellophane, clear gift wrap, even colored candy wrappers)
Bottlebrush trees in various sizes
Cardstock, corrugated cardboard, and other paper (for bases, house accents and landscapes)
Toothpicks and/or tweezers
Needle and thread (for making houses into ornaments)
Odds and ends for scenery
String of LED lights or individual mini-lights (to light the houses from the inside, optional)
Glitter house instructions
Print a glitter house template.
Open an empty cereal (or similar) box and lay it flat with the unprinted side facing up.
- Cut out the template and trace it on to the cereal box, or
- Put transfer paper between the template and cereal box and trace the outline.
Using a craft knife and metal ruler, cut along the solid lines indicated on the template, and score along the dotted lines. If you’re going to light up your house, make sure there’s a hole in the back big enough to fit your bulb.
Cut the window material in pieces slightly larger than the windows, and glue them in place on the printed side of the cereal box.
A corrugated coffee sleeve makes a great roof.
Paint the pieces of your house and let them dry.
Fold the house and glue it together. Hot glue is fastest because you don’t have to wait long for it to dry.
If you’re using clear or iridescent glitter all over, glue the roof to the house before applying.
If you’re using specific colors of glitter on different pieces of the house, apply the glitter to each piece before gluing them together.
To apply the glitter:
- Paint the pieces all over with white craft glue. (If it’s too tacky, dilute it a bit with water.)
- Holding each piece (or the whole house) over a paper plate, shake glitter to cover it.
- Allow it to dry.
Make multiple houses! That way, while one dries you can work on another.
“Glitter covers up a host of sins,” Miriam advises. “Make a mistake? Throw glitter on it.”
“More glitter, more glam,” says Natalie.
Now things gets even more fun: It’s time to decorate the yard or make your village. Start by gluing your house to the base, then go to town.
- Landscape with bottle brush trees.
- Use toothpicks or coffee stirs for fences.
- Add a puff of fiberfill or cotton to the chimney for smoke.
- Make teeny cars, mailboxes, or street signs.
- Add miniature animals.
- String seed beads for Christmas lights.
- Use hot glue to make icicles.
- Cover the ground in artificial snow or cotton batting with sprinkles of glitter.
Pop a light in the back and your tiny glitter house is finished!
“If anything isn’t looking quite right,” Natalie says, “Just keep adding glitter.”
What to do with your adorable glitter houses
So many things!
- Make a mantelscape, centerpiece, or under-the-tree village
- Put them inside a terrarium, cloche, or water-less snow-globe
- Wire on to a wreath or garland
- Personalize—either add a house number or put a name on the mailbox—and attach to gifts
- Use a needle and thread to sew a loop onto the top, and use it as an ornament.
Once you’ve figured out the basics, it’s easy to design your own. And the internet is full of templates and ideas.
One more pro tip
“Once you do one, you start to understand the basic construction,” Natalie says. “You can decide what you want your house to have, what pops out…then start sketching templates by hand or in Illustrator and trying them out.”
“It truly is for everyone—I was inspired by this when I was a kid,” Natalie swears. And Miriam agrees: “It gets you into the child’s magical mind.” So we recommend making them with your kids—you can do some pre-work if they’re younger. And, of course, tag us in all the pictures @Think.Make.Share.