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Cardboard Village

Turn everyday cardboard into a whimsical winter wonderland with this step-by-step process.




  • Village template
  • Tree template
  • Transparent tape
  • Double-sided tape
  • Large pieces of cardboard (at least 32 inches long)
  • Box cutter and/or craft knife
  • Paint and glitter in desired colors
  • Glittering glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Clear vellum
  • Two strings of floral LED lights and batteries
  • Reusable adhesive putty


  1. Step 1

    Print the templates for the village and trees (four pages each) and tape together, in order, lining up dotted lines.

  2. Step 2

    Attach village template to the "wrong" (dirty or printed) side of a large piece of cardboard and cut out entire shape from cardboard with a box cutter or craft knife. Repeat with tree template on a second piece of cardboard.

  3. Step 3

    Make the base: Cut two 32-by-6-inch rectangles of cardboard. In the center of one of these rectangles, cut an 1/8-inch-wide-by-31-inch slit to hold the trees. In the same rectangle, cut a centered 29-inch slit one inch from one long side to hold the houses. Place double-sided tape on the underside of the slit rectangle and attach to the second rectangle, lining up the edges.

  4. Step 4

    Paint and/or glitter the trees and village as desired. Use brushstrokes of paint or glittering glue to define boughs on trees. Add "snow" to houses and trees with coarse or tinsel glitter, if desired. Allow to dry.

  5. Step 5

    Tape pieces of vellum to the backs of the village windows. Attach two strings of floral lights to the back of the village with tape, so that one light is positioned in each window and door.

  6. Step 6

    Carefully place village in smaller slit on base, and trees in center slit. Use reusable adhesive putty to anchor the pieces in the base, if necessary. Place battery packs behind trees on base.

The Martha Stewart Show, December 2009



Reviews (16)

  • flamingofrenzy 23 Jul, 2011

    I have tried numerous times to print the template for the cardboard
    village. I have no problem printing any templates. HELP!!!
    What is the problem with this one?

  • lindalalonde 26 Mar, 2011

    If you use 2-inch thick styrofoam instead of cardboard for the base, it looks like white, snowy ground. It's also much easier to cut the slits and have it stand up properly. I still used the putty to anchor the cardboard and stuck toothpicks in the styrofoam to attach the putty more firmly.
    I made the trees wider and curved them around the ends of the buildings. This gave it some dimension and made it look less flat against the wall. The styrofoam was 36 inches wide so I had room to do this.

  • MrsLangdin 26 Nov, 2010

    This is one of the cutest decorations, but a little difficult. If you're using good quality cardboard, it will take at least a couple of hours to cut out all the shapes, especially ones with tight corners. If you're lucky enough to have a jigsaw, it could make this project go a lot faster.

  • Tiffany_Sun 30 Mar, 2010

    robfromnutley, the village template should be working --try restarting your Adobe program, or updating to the latest version.

  • aarndt 14 Feb, 2010

    Those lights look like they come from Ikea. They only carry them seasonally if at all anymore.

  • robfromnutley 18 Dec, 2009

    i tried clicking on the village template but it says the file is damaged. how can i get it? help

  • vtmonz 4 Dec, 2009

    Where did you buy your battery lights from?

  • Misty Overstreet-Roberts 30 Oct, 2014

    The Dollar Tree.

  • racevedo 3 Dec, 2009

    To get the templates click on the "village" and "tree" words under the Tools and Materials section.

  • sweetdenese 3 Dec, 2009

    I don't see how to get the template. please help.

  • khamby 2 Dec, 2009

    I loved this idea! I took it into Illustrator and made is smaller to fit a box I had at home. It's the prefect size to fit on my mantle. I can't wait to show it off during the Christmas Party! Thanks Martha!

  • celts1 2 Dec, 2009

    Where is the picture, please?

  • SimplyShirley 2 Dec, 2009

    The village is darling but the grey template prints very light. How can I darken the silhouette?

  • armymomdodie 2 Dec, 2009

    click on the word villige at the top of the instructions, under (tools needed) the templaate will pop up for you

  • wildwoods 2 Dec, 2009

    Cannot locate templates for cardboard village to print them. Where are they? Thanks

  • winddy 2 Dec, 2009

    I can not get the village and the trees copied only the numbers? Help!