I am so drawn to decorative Christmas towns. To me, they epitomize the warm spirit of Christmases long past. I can barely contain my delight at little sledding figures and lamp posts in “Winter Wonderland” style — sleigh bells ringing, snow glistening (which incidentally was written about Honesdale, PA — a ridiculously adorable town).

But I’ve never mustered up the nerve to commit to purchasing a Christmas town or any component. They are either expensive or very cheap looking. So, in typical Mary “I can make it myself” attitude, I did. What I made are technical called “putz houses” which originate from the German word that means “to decorate” and are cardboard.

At our home, this is called “Crazy Christmas Town” because I have spent a crazy amount of time hand making each of these houses.


This website has free templates and instructions on how to construct your own “putz houses.” Most of the houses were made from templates from this website.

The other houses (the ones that don’t light up), I think, are from a Martha Stewart template but I can’t find it. I did find another Martha template that is a lot like the ones above.

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A few notes of my own modifications. I did not make the recommended bases and probably should have. Maybe I will. The houses are a little wobbly. Instead of painting many of them, I took a further CRAZY step and followed the template and cut patterned decorative paper to cover the houses that I adhered with modpodge. I also covered the inside of the windows with velum paper so that light shines through the house but you don’t see the inside cardboard (because they are made of cereal and gift boxes).

You’ll need pretty good tools but they aren’t expensive.

  • a good craft-sized utility knife
  • cardboard, cereal box weight (i.e. cereal, gift, pasta boxes)
  • mod podge and some other stronger adhesive… I can’t remember what I used to put the house together! Boo.
  • white paint
  • paint brush
  • foam craft brushes
  • glitter (Do NOT cheap out.  If your glitter is not Martha Stewart, it’s garbage. It is fine (as in small and granular) and adheres well.)
  • self-healing cutting pad (These are expensive but a few times a year, Michaels Craft Store has a 50% off any one item. Use it for this.)
  • room to place all the components as they dry



What’s a Christmas town without it being lit up? My town sits on a bay window sill — you could use a fireplace mantel or a dining room server, or even underneath your Christmas tree.

First, I lay down LED string lights. NOTE of WARNING: YOU NEED LED unless you hope to set fire to your house. And then I feed the bulbs through white holiday batting (you can get this from any store that sells Christmas stuff — I got mine at Wal-mart). Then put the bulbs into the houses. Some bulbs are fed through the bottom and some houses have a circular hole in the back. I prefer the hole in the back — next time I make more I will pre-cut holes in the backs before I finish assembly.

Sorry I don’t have any ‘ACTION’ pictures from when I was making the houses but I made them 2 years ago when I was pregnant with DaughterTwo. No serious crafting has happened since.


So, there you have Crazy Christmas town! Eventually I hope to make iconic Hopewell buildings and even our own home. This girl takes her crafts too seriously. Crazy, if you will.


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Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Binghamton and a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, creative endeavors, and photographing mushrooms. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), holds a seat on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, and is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance.



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