Christmas villages or putz houses were originally nativity scenes placed under the Christmas tree. By the early 19th century putz villages became more elaborate scenes atop tables and fireplace mantels and grew to include stories from the bible like Noah's Ark. By the mid 19th century non-religious figures and scenes were being added the the family putz scene.
After World War II cardboard or paper houses became widely available in the United States. These popular paper houses were decorated with mica glitter "snow", bottle brush trees, tiny reindeer and even snowmen. Many of the putz houses available had a small hole in the back or bottom to place Christmas lights in to illuminate the cellophane windows. Cardboard putz houses and churches became so popular during the mid-20th century they became part of an ever expanding Christmas village to include train sets, lanterns and other small Christmas figurines.