Every Christmas season, we deck our halls with vintage decorations for our annual holiday party. This year, we decided to create a Christmas village as the centerpiece of our table. So we bundled up and headed to the flea market to shop for our miniature yuletide town.
Entering the gates to the flea market was like walking right into Christmas! The booths were stocked with light-up Santas and snowmen, tinsel garlands and Shiny Brites. But we knew what we wanted: glittered cardboard houses, bottlebrush trees, and townsfolk. What a fun shopping list!
We Wish You A Mica Christmas
Kitty led us into a space that had lots of small goodies including wooly sheep, celluloid reindeer, and bottlebrush trees. And so many little houses! The vendor told us they were the dime-store variety made in Japan in the mid 20th century. He called them “mica houses” and pointed out the mica glitter on the roofs “for a snowy effect.”
We picked out five houses, the kind with a hole in the back to put a light inside. We liked their colorful cellophane windows. One had an original ten-cent price tag! He wouldn’t honor that but we thought $5 apiece was a holiday bargain.
We went across the way to check out a shelf of elves made from pinecones and pipe cleaners—a Christmas classic. We thought they’d make charming label holders for the buffet, but we would need five! With our budget in mind, Jennifer tested her negotiating skills and scored all five pinecone people for $35. Kitty saw what a sweet deal he was giving and got an extra two reindeer, four bottlebrush trees, and a lamppost for just $20. Cheaper than the brand new stuff and with so much more character!
The Village People
We still needed townspeople for our village. And then we spotted a dealer dressed like Santa surrounded by tables of mini villages complete with trains. He greeted us with a “Ho Ho Ho” and entertained us with a tour. One of the most unusual items he showed us was a very old figurine made of spun cotton standing on a cardboard sled. We were sure that sledder would be a great addition to our village, so we made a deal for him, an ice skater, three plastic carollers, a goat, a dog, and a snow baby to round out our scene. When we asked the guy for a Christmas miracle, he laughed and said $50. Yes, there is a Santa Claus!
OMG, I’m 60 years old and still have all the little mica houses you show in your pictures. Love them. We used them every Christmas when I was growing up and I still set them out at Christmas. Although, many need the cellophane replaced and I’m trying to figure out how I can do that. So great to see these. Just found your site via All You magazine from the pic of the wreath with the white pine cones. Want to make that. So pretty.
Jennifer & Kitty O'Neil says
Hi Salange, what a fun tradition! We have been collecting them for years since the ones we grew up with are long gone. So glad you found us!
Toni Mullins says
‘I collect these houses, they are called Putz houses originated in Germany and coupied in Japan. $5:00 each was a bargain