More Christmas Real Estate

Posted on December 3, 2015 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

It seems quite a few of you have a bit of Bob the builder in you as I've had requests for more Christmas houses. You just can't seem to get enough of these sweet holiday decorations and, I admit, they do look nice when a few are grouped together. There are tons of Christmas putz house templates out there - the drawback to a lot of them is that you need to decorate these and who has time? But there are many that you can simply print out, glue on to your recycled cardboard and voilà - your're done. Note that a few of those listed below are actually meant as gift boxes but would easily work as little house decorations.

Row Housing

These were designed by Gabrielle Blair, the talent behind Design Mom as gift boxes. And, okay, these do require a bit of a paint job, but, hey, the template comes with a cute little wreath for the front door! Click here for template and instructions.


Yup, more gift boxes which again look just like little putz houses. These are from Design is Yay! and come ready to use once assembled.  Wita, the site's owner offers loads of free printables for all occasions. She's even got Christmas tree templates that you can print out and make to go with her little houses.

Get the info for these houses here.

Upmarket Parisien Dwelling

This one from a French website Sanglota is a bit more upscale but ooh, la, la. It's easy to cut out and assemble because it's a simple rectangle form you can paste on a box - would make a nice gift wrap as well. There are loads of other free printables at this site - Alice and JB are the creative team that make up Sanglota! 

Check out these Parisien beauties here.

Two-Stories Plus Attic

If you like your houses a bit bigger, the template for this one can be downloaded from Lutz Kaspers Papiermodelle. It's a German site but you won't need to read any instructions as the template is fairly clear about how to assemble this model. You'll have to scroll way down to find it but it's worth it! There are a few other models (a ship) that would be fun to make if you are so inclined. This little building would make a great dollhouse if you increase the size of the template.

Click here for the house template.

Non-edible Gingerbread House

None of the above have much to do with recycling unless you glue the printouts to any cardboard you have in your recycling bin. However, this one from the delightful blog, The House that Lars Built, is made using cardboard boxes - you know you've got some.  Brittany Watson Jepsen, the blog owner, explains how you can turn any plain old cardboard box into a cute little gingerbread house. Lots of good photos to follow. She also has info there where you can get free coupons for something but I didn't read it all.  You do have to decorate this one but you only have to have a chalkboard or felt pen to do it.

This is a great site and you may spend some time there. By the way, you can get free boxes (if you don't have your own) from any store. I got three today from a local gift shop.

Click here for Brittany's instructions.

TIP: Most of these houses print out on letter sized paper: i.e., 8 1/2" x 11". A nice size for an ornament - however, if you want a bigger model, increase the print or copy size to 140 percent to print out on 11" x 17" paper.

Christmas Recycling - Winter Warmth

Posted on December 2, 2015 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

What's Christmas without a fireplace for Santa to come down? Well, I never had one in any of the apartments or houses I've lived in and my studio home is no exception. But, do I worry, do I fret? No--I improvise.

For years, I hauled a small cherry wood and pine mantel around and put it up wherever I happened to be. Now that, too, is gone but I still have an old wrought iron fireplace grate that I bought at the Sally Ann years ago for 5 bucks. It weighs a ton (well, it felt like it) and I had to haul it home on the bus. For some reason I got the funniest looks. Anyway, most of the time now it's a place to store my magazines and maps, but it comes into its own at Christmas when I fill it with strings of Christmas lights. I include those flickering ones as well so that it gives the impression of a fire glowing. With the lights out and a Christmas movie on the screen, it almost feels like the real thing.

No antique fire grate? No problem, use an old tin washtub or a large basket. Or you can stuff a dozen or so large jam jars with battery-powered lights (LED, please!) and group them on a low table (a board over a couple of bricks works, too). Hang a wreath above it and you may even fool ol' Santa. If you're clever with carpentry, you can put up a floating mantel shelf above your 'fireplace' to add to the mystique.

Christmas Putz Houses 2015

Posted on November 11, 2015 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

What is it about those little Christmas putz houses we all love so much? Much as I'd like to show you oodles of examples and links to templates, I don't have a lot of time right now as I am working hard on my new workshop online location. Luckily I found Russian blogger, Tanya Ukhova, who provides dozens links to little putz houses that you can print out and customize. As I said, the site is in Russian but the links to the houses are in English. I guarantee you'll find something you will love and just have to make.

To get there, click here.

If you don't have time to browse all the links on Tanya's blog, here's the link to that perennial favourite - our Lady Martha's Christmas village (shown above).

If, on the other hand, you'd rather buy than make a few little Christmas buildings, what about these lovely buildings from Etsy seller, Holiday Spirits Decor? Gorgeous or what!

Counting the Days - More Advent Calendars

Posted on November 9, 2015 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Christmas is still some way off but Advent is fast approaching. If you need some inspiration to create your own DIY Advent calendars, here are a few samples that I found online. And you won’t even have to go to the shops (well, maybe for the treats). You can improvise with whatever materials you have in your recycling bin or tucked away in cupboards - mostly cardboard and leftover wrapping paper. I don't normally discard the wrap from my gifts - I just straighten it out the best I can and put it away for reuse.

One for the Cookie Monster!

Okay, no cardboard here - just a sweet gingerbread cookie Advent calendar that the Cookie Monster would love as well as anyone else fond of homemade treats. Big and little kids will love it. Finnish interior designer Susanna Vento created this wonderful cookie Advent calendar for a photo shoot. The photo is no longer up but I’m sure you have your own recipe (and cookie cutters) to create this very edible Christmas calendar.

Brown Bag It!

The folks over at the Creative Bag, a site that sells food packaging, show us how to tranform (leftover) wrapping paper or brown kraft paper into Advent bags. Set them on a tray where kids can get at them or hang them with string from a broken tree branch.

Instructions for these little bags call for a bit of sewing, if you don't have a sewing machine, just use a good glue (double-sided tape or even staples!) to keep it together. To make, click here.


Here's another way to reuse leftover wrapping paper (or you could use the comic pages of your newspaper). Gretchen over at Boxy Colonial, turns her extra wrapping paper into cones to hide her Advent treats. She also provides a couple of vintage wrapping downloads if you prefer. She gets a thumbs-up from me for showing us how to repurpose. For instructions, go here.

A Sophisticated Twist

If you have older kids who loudly protest that they're way too grown-up for such a childish tradition (but still in their hearts would love one, I guarantee it!), why not surprise them with an Advent calendar that's a bit more upscale? 

Another Finnish blogger Riikka Kantinkoski, gives us a modern take with these black and white Advent boxes. Each one can contain a goodie that's just right for the teen in your family. All you need are 24 boxes and number cards. She found her boxes and number cards at Ikea but I found this wonderful Dutch site, Temple Maker, that you will love (and visit whenever you need too) because it enables you to create boxes of any size (within reason) and shape. 

To make boxes with lids, head over to the Template Maker and input the dimensions for your required box and a template will be produced that you can print out. Genius.

You can find number stencils online or at your local craft store. Use cereal or other food product boxes as the base material for both the boxes and numbers.

The Italian Job

If you’re a fan of those little Christmas Putz houses, you’ll love these little architectural gems that make up this Advent calendar. It's an idea from Italian online magazine, Casa Facile. I don’t have the wall space (and time) but if you do, this would be fun to make. Once you’ve made the houses, you can reuse them year after year. 

There is a template at this site for a little paper house with instructions in Italian. For a variety of different shaped houses, head over to Hello Bee, for buildings that are similar to the ones shown above. Again use whatever cardboard you have on hand as the base for the templates.

And on the other hand, if your time is limited, you can use any empty cardboard food boxes and milk or juice cartons you have on hand. Wrap each box in brown kraft paper (use any paper grocery bags you've got on hand or buy a roll of brown paper at the post office). Then you can cut out the windows and add the numbers using stencils. 

So - what are you waiting for? Get building!