Holiday Break: Crafting with Karee Nation

by: Karee Nation

It seems Christmas is always on the way or right on us. Either way, Christmas stress is plaguing us sometime throughout the year.  As a mom of three small boys, I spend a lot of my time trying to meld my ideas of how I want my house to look with things that are fun and functional for them.

So, naturally, Christmas is a little trying with a big, shining tree in the middle of the living room, just begging to be knocked over (again).  That doesn’t stop me from pining for a magical little Christmas village.  I’ve always loved them, especially the vintage style putz houses.  A little part of my heart explodes with happiness when I see some of that glittered, tinseled, kitschy goodness.  This year we decided to make our own, and since they are usually made of cardboard or papier-mâché, they are largely childproof.

There are literally hundreds of tutorials on Pinterest for making your own putz house, but to simplify it we started with a simple pressed paper house form from Hobby Lobby.

This is our basic list of project supplies:

House Form
Clear Varnish Acrylic Paint ($1 craft paint works just fine)
White Glitter
Fake Snow
Hot Glue Gun
Wax paper
Embellishments (mini trees, mini wreaths, snowmen, etc. )

1. Cut a hole for your light.

There’s no hard and fast rule to how you decorate these houses, but let me suggest cutting a hole in the back with an Xacto knife FIRST if you plan on inserting an electric light. Skip this step if you don’t want your house lit, or if you plan on using a tea light, because the top is removable.  The hole should be about the size of a quarter for a basic plug-in style light attachment.  A two-watt appliance bulb will keep your precious putz from bursting into a blaze of glory.

2. Paint. 

Start your painting process. Generally I like to paint the house one color and trim the doors and windows with another to give a little added dimension.   A lot of the retro style houses you see in personal collections are splashy, fun colors.  I wanted to keep with that general idea so I chose to go with a pastel pink, trimmed in white, topped with a grey roof.  Plus, it’s the only time I can get away with super girly colors because I basically live in a miniature frat house.

3. Decorate your chimney.

The chimney is a fixture that you’ll find on most pre-made house models. Many people cover them in faux brick or paint them the same color as the exterior walls of the house.  I actually used a faux brick method to paint this particular one.  It’s quite simple and I think it gives the whole piece a nice touch.  I started by painting the chimney a dark charcoal color.  Then I cut a piece of pink eraser into a very small rectangle.  Dip that rectangle into white paint and sponge onto the chimney in a brick pattern.  Ta-da!  You’re a Freemason in the world of crafting!

4. Glitter!

When all your bricks are in a row, you will probably have a bead of sweat across your forehead. Bead formation is a great indication that the rest of your house is dry and ready for glitter.  This step is messy no matter how you go about it, but the glitter really adds a magical touch (and also covers any uneven areas of paint).   My suggestion is to do it over a large mixing bowl.

Usually I start with the roof and cover small areas in clear varnish.  While the varnish is still tacky, I apply the first layer of glitter.  One layer may be enough for you, but I like my houses to look like they could belong to fairies.  Working in small areas (just a few inches at a time) make your glittery way across the entire house.  Then pour the glitter left in the bowl back into your original container for future use.

5.  Make icicles. 

Are you shiny?   You’re doing it right.  All the glitter and varnish takes a minute to dry.  Wine?  Go ahead.  While you’re at it, let’s make some icicles for the dormers.  Using wax paper, hold the sheet up to your dormer and draw the outline with a Sharpie.  I used black.  I do not suggest this.  Silver would be good.  A pencil would probably be best.

It’s time to freestyle.  Using the triangles you drew from the dormers, create icicle shapes with your glue gun.  Go crazy.  Immediately cover this with white glitter.  Once it dries, you can peel about 50% of it off of your wax paper.  The rest of it will be a fight.

6. Add snow and other embellishments. 

Once the second sweat breaks, you should be ready to attach your icicle goodness to your dormers with an additional bead of hot glue. This is also a great time to run a few strategically placed lines of glue on your roof line and add the fake snow.  It looks great around the base as well.  It’s an unnecessary step, but it adds a nice touch.  Finish it up with your embellishments.  Bottle brush trees are, admittedly, my favorite because I’m basic and I live in a suburb.

7. Insert your light.

The final step is the insertion of your light attachment. All of the lights that I’ve come across have had a spring holder to keep your light snugly in place.  Or you can add your tea lights!

The kids have helped me make about 5 of these little houses and it’s always fun for us.  Plus, I’ve found that they are much less likely to destroy something that they have personal investments in.  The great thing is that you can customize them for anything.  I’m about to die from excitement planning the Halloween village for next year.  So, grab your stuff and get messy!  Happy crafting!

Karee Nation
Karee Nation

Karee Nation hails from Van Buren, Arkansas, where she shares her home with three destructive boys, husband, and a special kitty named Sasha. She spends her days cleaning up messes and playing in paint. Suburban mediocrity is her ultimate life goal.

  • Barbara Nielsen

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 great project!

  • Jayna

    I love this!! This was a superb tutorial about how to decorate one of those cute houses I always see around Christmas. Very well written and easy to understand. Now I need to get started on my own puts house! You should do more tutorials. Love your style! Thanks, Karee!

  • Betty Birdwell

    Awesome instructions!