Your source for custom-made, handcrafted Christmas village houses and churches
Written by Paul Race for Big Indoor Trains™ and
Click to see Christmas Collectibles with railroad themes.

Note from Editor: This is an index to a collection of tips for making the scenery of your holiday and display villages come alive.

Most of these projects come to us courtesy of Florida designer Howard Lamey. Howard loves collecting and designing glitter houses, or as collectors call them, "putz" houses, from a German-American word related to "putter." He also enjoys creating original accessories and settings to make his houses look "at home" in his display.s

Scenery Tips

This page is an index to articles that will help you create charming and appropriate settings for your Christmas Village houses, whether they're "putz" houses, ceramic sculptures, or something else altogether. Some of them were created by Howard, though they're on other sites - I'll be moving those to "Howard's How-To's" for easier Click to see article navigation, but we wanted to give you access to them now.
  • Free Scenery Set Pieces - Make scenic accessories from scraps. New, November, 2008!

  • Click to see article Click to see articleEasy Sea Grass - An inexpensive way to add color and texture to any seaside setting. New, January, 2009!

  • Winter Trees from Floral Picks - A quick and inexpensive way to add interesting textures to your winter railroad or Christmas village.

    Click to see free downloadable plans,  directions, and graphics for this delightful seaside accessory.

  • Modeling Palm Trees - Here's an easy way to model palm trees, for your seaside village, or for your nativity scene.

  • Portable (Foam-Based) Indoor Displays - Using a foam-based portable scenic foundation to display your trains and towns to their best advantage. This photo shows three of the scenery ideas on our primer pages combined.

  • Easy Indoor Lakes and Rivers - How to get the effect of waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and streams on both temporary and permanent indoor railroads and display villages.

  • Easy Homemade Trees - How to make realistic and inexpensive trees using (mostly) natural materials. Click to see article.

  • Desert Accessories from Playmobil Products - How repainting carefully-chosen toys can add fun details to a Large Scale desert landscape

  • Click to see article.Bringing Autumn to Your Railroad or Display Village - How two easy crafts can make your model railroad or display village look like it is enjoying the fall season.

  • Add Spring Color to Your Village or Indoor RailroadClick to see article. - How to use "Easy Homemade Trees" to brighten your railroad or display village for spring.

    Commission Your Own Project!

    Click for bigger picture.Commercial "Plug" - Now that I'm in "retirement," this hobby has become a sort of avocation for me. Several folks have commissioned me to build specific houses for them. I often provide an "artist's conception" such as the one at the right to make certain I understand what they want. Sometimes the "artist's conception" needs to be tempered by adjustments to make the house fit in better with the other houses it will be joining, as well as color and accessory changes. But it all starts, quite literally, at the drawing board.

    Perhaps you had a pasteboard house collection when you were young and would like to have a replica made. Or you have an idea for something that's never been done. If you can find a photo or hash out a drawing or anything else to give me some idea of what you're looking for, that can be enough to get started.

    If you'd like me to help you design and/or build a special vintage pasteboard house for you, or if you have any questions at all, please see my site, for more information.

    Looking for Your Ideas, Projects, or Photos - Also, if you have similar project, ideas, or photos that you'd like to share with your fellow readers and hobbyists, we'd love to add them to our sites, and we'll be sure to give you full credit for your contribution.

    Return to Howard's How-To's

    Other Resources for Putz Houses and Related Information

    Other Putz House Articles:

    Other Putz House Resources:Click to see Howard's site.

    • - Putz house builder Howard Lamey now has his own site, begun in December, 2007. You can get ideas for your own project, commission your own custom-built glitterhouse, or buy a precut kit and finish it yourself.

    • "Papa Ted's Place" Ted Althof's extensive resource about vintage pasteboard houses. Includes some history, many photos from other people's collections, and resources to help you build your own. The links below will take you right to the appropriate page on "Papa" Ted's site. You'll find lots of other pages to look at while you're there, though.
      • Building from Scratch - "Papa" Ted Althof has collected tips and photos from other glitterhouse builders including Tom Hull and Ted Howard.
      • Repair and Restoration - "Papa" Ted Althof publishes Tom Hull's tips for restoring damaged antique glitterhouses.
      • Click to see 'Papa Ted' Althoff's authentic putz house reproduction pieces.Reproduction Parts - Ted offers authentic reproductions of just about every door and window that were used in glitterhouses over a 35-year period. These include celophane and paper "see-through" windows, as well as "stick-on" windows. If you don't know what sizes you need, you can order a template or sample pack. The page includes several photos showing how the replacement parts bring otherwise solid vintage glitterhouses "back to life."
      • Making "Flocked" Windows - Tom Hull's method for making "fuzzy" windowframes on celophane, with additional tips by author and glitterhouse collector Antoinette Stockenberg.
      • Repairing or Replacing Trees Tom's article about the "lufa" trees that were common on pre-war glitterhouses, and can be repaired or else replaced by new lufa carefully cut, soaked with dark green acrylic paint, and allowed to dry before gluing and applying white paint for "snow."

      Click to be charmed by Antoinette Stockenberg's wonderful Christmas displays.
    • Antoinette Stockenberg's photographs and comments on putz houses and life in general. - This is an entirely different kind of site from Ted's, but first class in every way. Antoinette is a published novelist who started decorating her home with putz houses some years back, started learning about the hobby, and the rest is history. She populates her putz with period-appropriate accessories, including "flats," inexpensive vintage figures made like tin soldiers. She also writes some nice articles about her putz villages and other subjects. The above link takes you to her home page, which usually has great photographs of her mantle-top putz. Be sure to look at previous years' pages to see other buildings, accessories, and arrangements.

    Other Articles that Discuss Putzes and Christmas Villages of the mid-20th Century:

    • About Nativities - Describes how German-American Nativity displays (the original "putzes") grew into communities and landscapes that included pastboard, glittered houses and even electric trains.
    • What Do Trains Have to Do With Christmas - Describes how electric trains contributed to the communities many families set up at Christmas, with some details about the elaborate "Christmas Gardens" of the Baltimore/DC area.
Click to sign up for the 'Trains-N-Towns™' newsletter, with articles about display villages, indoor railroading, and much more

Click to see articles and resources for a joyful family Christmas.

Visit our BIG Train Store™ Buyer's Guide Pages

The Ultimate Disney Holiday Village: Collectible Christmas Decoration

Winnie The Pooh Collectible Hundred Acre Wood Miniature Christmas Village Collection

It's A Wonderful Life Village Collection

Home Pages
Reading Index Pages
Buyer's Guide Pages
Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page Return to Family Garden Trains Home page Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingBig Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads

Note: and Spook Hill(tm) are trademarks of Howard Lamey. Big Indoor Trains(tm), Big Train Store(tm), Family Garden Trains(tm), Big Christmas Trains(tm), Garden Train Store(tm), and Trains and Towns(tm) are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications ( All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.

For more information, contact us.

Click to see exclusive, licensed Disney(r) train and village collections!

Click to see exclusive, licensed train collections in your favorite NFL colors!