Photography: Anna Williams
Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2000
These snug houses sit nestled together, mixing whatever shapes or colors please the builder, without anyone worrying what the neighbors will think. Their glitter snow will never be tracked indoors. Their holiday trimmings won't fade or wilt. And every year, the village will come out of storage looking exactly as everyone remembers it.
The glitter-sprinkled houses that you can make from the following templates take their inspiration from a long history of tiny buildings. The first probably accompanied nativity scenes. But what would have begun as just a stable expanded to include barns and cottages and, eventually, whole villages. Made from wood and finely detailed, such tableaux were especially popular in Germany and Japan at the beginning of the twentieth century. By the 1920s, simpler mass-produced ornaments had become available. These were often made of cardboard and were coated with plenty of glitter.
Before you start a construction project, decide how much ground you want to cover. The smallest display of buildings comprises only a handful of simple structures, perhaps gathered on a side table. A modest town planner may be content with a hamlet that uses the mantelshelf as Main Street. Too many houses to fit above the fireplace? Hang them as ornaments among the boughs of the Christmas tree. The ambitious architect will not stop until there are many buildings, of every variety, set among rolling snowy hills. Such urban sprawl is best under the tree (where it might crowd out the presents!) or on a properly zoned tabletop.