From the late 1920s through the 1960s, wonderful lightup cardboard houses were available singly in dimestores and in sets in catalogs everywhere. These were designed to insert the Christmas lights of the day and were wonderfully decorated with mica snow, loofah or bottlebrush trees and cellophane or translucent paper windows and doors. A great history of these wonderful treasures is available online.
Recently, modern manufacturers have begun producing highly embellished versions of these little houses. No doubt they are capitalizing on the popularity of Dept 56 and Lemax houses and the elaborate displays they entail. To tell the difference look at the bottom of the house and you’ll find a stamp “Made in Japan” or Italy or Germany. Another clue is the size of the light hole in the back (to accommodate C6 or C7 size lightbulbs usually). Very few of the vintage ones have the size hole to accommodate miniature light bulbs.