Welcome to Cardboard Christmas!
Your ticket to Christmas past!
Putting little villages up around the nativity or Christmas tree is a centuries-old tradition. In the late 1800s, cardboard candy boxes shaped like little houses found their way to many of these Christmas villages. Then, when electric Christmas lights became affordable, the candy boxes were replaced by sets of little houses with holes in the back to accommodate the new light bulbs.
This practice was so widespread among German-American families that they even gave a German name to the little villages and the houses that comprised them - putz. The word “putz” technically means “to put,” but in German-American vernacular, it is akin to “putter,” as in “puttering around with your putz until you’re happy with it.”
For nearly forty years, many North American homes had at least one set of these cardboard Christmas “putz” houses, though their popularity faded when houses stopped having parlors and started having television sets.
Nowadays collectors and fans of vintage Christmas items in general are procuring, protecting, restoring, and reproducing theses charming, once-inexpensive treasures. While researching articles for FamilyChristmasOnline and other sites, I came into contact with the late “Papa” Ted Althof (collector, historian, and proprietor of Papa Ted’s Place), and cardboard Christmas house designer Howard Lamey (owner of LittleGlitterHouses.com). Soon I got to know other collectors, designers, and fans. I even wrote a number of related how-to articles on this and related topics.
But I also realized that much of the best information on putz houses and the Christmas villages they comprised for four decades is scattered in hard-to find places. People new to the hobby have to work through a maze of links to find out what he or she wanted to know.
So, with encouragement from many fellow collectors, I started a new page to:
- Provide as many useful links as I can to existing resources,
- Add discussion forums for folks who want to ask questions and share ideas about putzes and putz houses,
- Post downloadable resources for folks who are restoring or building their own putz houses, and .
- Host articles relating to putz houses and related Christmas traditions.
Although we haven’t finished growing yet, the “putz community” now has a page that makes it easy to communicate with one another, to find resources now, and to add any new resources in a more organized manner.
So, stay tuned, enjoy your hobbies and your holidays, and especially enjoy any time you have with your family this season!
Paul Race and Family