If you'd like to make a simple cardboard Christmas village, there are some very nice patterns you can work from that are available online. The secret is in painting or colouring the designs before you cut them out, and in adding the lighting inside the buildings. Clear packing tape and a sharp knife will soon have your tiny Christmas village windows twinkling in your front window display.
Download picture files from the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream website archive containing their New England Village craft set. Ben and Jerry's corporate website offers several craft ideas for kids. One of these is a set of cut-out, fold-together buildings that might be found in a New England village. The pictures can be downloaded by right clicking on each picture and choosing "save image as". There are five buildings: a church, Victorian house, petrol station, barn and apartment building. Save the picture files in a directory where you can find them.
Print each picture actual size on card stock. Print several copies of the Victorian house and apartment building to make the main street of the village. Lightly spray the back of the cardboard patterns with black paint. That way when you fold and glue the buildings together, the inside is black to cut reflective light. This will disguise the inside of the buildings so you can't see the folds and glue tabs.
Colour the buildings with the marker pens, watercolours or even crayons if you wish. Remember, Victorian houses tended to be painted in rather bright colours. Barns look nice in red and the apartment building looks great in a reddish grey brick colour.
Cut out the buildings from the card stock. Use the X-acto knife to cut out the squares where the pains of glass in the windows go. Fold the buildings together and glue the tabs. Allow the glue to set.
Lay the Christmas lights out on the table where you wish to place the village buildings. Set the buildings on top of the lights so that one or two bulbs are inside each of the cardboard buildings. Tape the Christmas light wires in place against the table with shipping tape. Excess lights can be taped under the edge of the table to create a border around the table. Double-sided tape can be used to hold down the buildings themselves.
Spread the polyester stuffing over the table to create the effect of snow-covered ground. Press the "snow" around the buildings to hide the wires and make artificial snow drifts. You may want to use double-sided tape below the "snow" to keep it from shifting around. When you plug in the Christmas lights, the buildings will be lit up through their windows, creating a very pretty lighting effect.
- If you have any skill with photo software or desktop publishing programs you can scale the photo files of the building designs to make them larger or smaller by resizing and saving the photo. Double the dimensions of the photo and you double the size of your buildings.
- Use the heaviest cardstock your printer will handle. This helps keep the walls and roofs of your buildings crisp and straight.
- You can "paint" the village before you print it by using photo paint software. Once you've "painted" the photo files, just print them on your colour printer and you eliminate having to use watercolours or markers. Just spray the back black and cut everything out.