[Putz Tribute to  Ted]

Storing Cardboard Christmas Items!

When you begin your putz house collection, you need to take into account where you store them.  When you consider that, sixty years ago, almost every family had a set of these, you might expect to find more of them in good shape.  But, in addition to the families who threw them away when they decided they didn’t fit their lifestyle any more, there were many more families who stored them in less-than-optimum ways.

The greatest enemies of these little houses have historically been:

  • Dust - working its way into surfaces and crevices that you can’t easily clean out without removing the glitter or cellophane as well.
  • Excess moisture - causing glue to dissolve and/or mildew to develop
  • Excess heat - causing glue joints to dry out and pieces to become brittle
  • Contamination from adjacent materials - resin leaking from plastic bags, ink transferring from paper, etc.

A few have also been damaged by dropping, but that’s usually a quick fix with Elmer’s glue.

Considering how many of these little houses spent every spring, summer and fall haphazardly thrown into uninsulated attics, it’s really a wonder we have as many as we still do. Yes, Tom Hull and others have figured ways of rehabilitating houses that have been damaged by inappropriate storage, but it’s far better for the damage not to occur in the first place. 

  • Consider wrapping your putz houses gently in white or natural tissue paper - the kind of tissue you buy to stuff in gift bags.  Patterned paper, newsprint, or even bubble wrap can leave residue if it stays in direct contact long enough. 
  • Store groups of putz houses in a dust-resistant container. The container doesn’t have to be air-tight - in fact I think it’s better if they can breathe a little.  To me those semi-clear Sterlite plastic bins are a good way to go - they’re not quite airtight, but they will protect tissue-wrapped houses from any dust to speak of. 
  • Store in a dry, temperature-controlled place.  My damp basement has destroyed more than one cardboard product by softening the glue to the point where the product fell apart.  Fortunately no putz houses or anything else of real value has perished this way, but it does happen.  Before we installed a roofline vent in our attic, the summer’s heat would age things prematurely, including, of course, cardboard products.  Nowadays our attic is safe to store putz houses in, but many are not.  In other words, any place where you would be uncomfortable staying for long might be inappropriate for storing your putz houses and accessories. 

Of course, not everyone has a dry basement, temperate attic, or extra closet.  but you need to think about these things, at least while you’re deciding how big a collection you can want.  And appropriate storage will extend your little treasures into the next generation and the next. . . .

If you have tips on storage, please let us know, and we’ll check it out with a view to posting it here.


Paul Race


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