Make: A Modern Mini Cardboard Holiday Village

Oh, the magic of MINI! I have a mantel that was desperate for some decoration, so after work the other night, I grabbed the nearest supply (cardboard boxes, of course) and started cutting. 45 minutes later, I had the first set of houses and trees for this oh so adorable minimal, modern holiday village.

If you’ve been keeping your eyes peeled for a low-mess, no-stress simple holiday craft you can make with your kids, look no further. This is an easy, small-scale project that can take half an hour or be made into an activity for the whole afternoon, and there’s a ton of opportunity for personalization. Isn’t this little village vibin’ merry and bright?

Make a modern, minimal winter village from collaged scraps and cardboard! A lovely holiday arts and crafts project for kids. | via barley & birch

My set is arranged on the dining room mantel, and a string of fairy lights woven among the houses will finish it off for now. Ta-da! Just like that, another room filled with handmade holiday warmth. I can so easily see the little houses numbered and made into a mini-mod Advent calendar too!

I love that you can easily add homes to your collection whenever you want. Expand your cardboard village throughout the season, adding a couple of tiny houses each day. Or invite friends to make a few. This is one of those flexible projects you and your kids can work on it all winter long – adding peg dolls, a scrap paper and cardboard Christmas tree, doodled village elements, or just about ANYTHING mini.

This little village uses the house cookie templates from our new gingerbread bakery printable play kit. To see the other ways we’ve used it, visit the DIY felt bakery tutorial or our tutorial to help you sew your own (humorous!) gingerbread softie.

For your own mini cardboard holiday village you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*


  • Scrap cardboard or a cereal box
  • Scissors (I love this kind for cutting cardboard!)
  • Acrylic, tempera, or chalkboard paint
  • Scrap paper in assorted patterns and colors
  • A glue stick


DIY Mini Cardboard Holiday Village Instructions:

  1. Trace or draw house shapes

    Download and print the gingerbread cookie house template page, or draw your own small, simple homes. Trace onto the cardboard or the side of a cereal box and cut out.
    Trace and cut your little houses out of cardboard. | via barley & birch

  2. Paint or cover with paper

    Color your little houses with paint or fun paper in bright colors or patterns (I used a couple of our Memphis shape pattern sheets printed onto colorful paper).
    Paint or glue interesting paper on your houses. | via barley & birch
    I also painted one of our houses with black chalkboard paint – now we can change up the details of the house whenever we want!

  3. Decorate your houses

    Add a couple of simple details to each home. We added a torn paper “door” and gingerbread line details with a chalk pen…have fun experimenting with your favorite supplies!
    Add fun details to your houses using a variety of art and craft supplies. | via barley & birch

  4. Glue cardboard supports to the back of each home

    Cut a few strips of scrap cardboard. Bend at both edges, then use a glue stick to mount to the bottom backs of each house. These will hold your cardboard houses upright.
    Add a strip of cardboard to the back of your house as a support. | via barley & birch

  5. Make a couple of quick cardboard trees

    Cut out a variety of triangles – large and small – to turn into simple pine trees. We’ll be interlocking the two pieces of each tree, so you need to cut out a thin strip from the top center of one, and the bottom center of its matching piece.
    Cut simple pine trees from cardboard and paint. | via barley & birch
    Paint any color you prefer! We chose greens and blues, but you can make yours all colors of the rainbow.

    Once put together, we used a toothbrush to make some white paint splatters on our trees – looks just like snow. Load your brush with white paint, then pull back on the bristles (aiming at your trees!) to flick splatters of “snow” on the tops.

  6. Arrange!

    These are a snap to move around, so try out some different arrangements to make your little village look just the way you want it.

I found a lot of joy in keeping the details minimal – something about the simplicity really let the bright colors, bold patterns, and artistic textures shine. It also made for a fairly quick turnaround time on 4 homes and 3 trees. I’ve already cut a stack of 20 more tiny 2D cardboard houses so I can grab one or two anytime inspiration strikes. Absolutely perfect for setting up an invitation to create.

This little cardboard holiday village could be a fun way to recycle Christmas cards, or put leftover scraps of wrapping paper to use too! From a classroom group project to a quiet one-on-one kid parent crafting session, this minified town is sure to add a little magic to your holiday art-ing.

Make a modern, minimal winter village from collaged scraps and cardboard! A lovely holiday arts and crafts project for kids. | via barley & birch

For more fun projects to accompany your handmade village, add a 3D paper advent tree with pop-in ornaments, or make your houses a cozy addition to this cool mini Christmas tree farm for holiday sensory play. You can try some more advanced building with our cardboard ice shanty winter STEAM challenge too!

Get in the spirit by turning up the volume on our holiday Spotify playlist!

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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