If you’re like me, you love the holiday season. Why? Because it gives you an excuse to craft gifts, decorations – and best of all – make your own gingerbread houses! Last year, my husband and I decided that we would have a little competition between us and his sister. The task? Build the best, most ambitious gingerbread house you could muster. The game was on! Now, neither one of us had ever built our own gingerbread house before, aside from the ones that come in box kits, so it was a challenge to know where to start.
There are many ways to build and decorate your own gingerbread house, but I hope this article can help give you some creative inspiration.
- Your favorite gingerbread cookie recipe
- A couple of packs of gum. The kind that come in long, flat strips
- Plenty of powdered sugar (a.k.a. icing sugar).
- Fondant (or marzipan) This is optional, we used ours to make a little snowman.
- Food coloring. Select as many colors as you’d like to use
- Small paint/craft brush
- A few strings of licorice
- A pack of Jolly Ranchers or other hard candy. These will be used to make candy stained glass windows.
- First things first, you’ll want to start making your gingerbread dough. Once you have the dough prepared, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness, making sure the dough is as even as possible.
- Select your pattern. Since this isn’t a kit, you can choose to make your house as little or as big as you want. Don’t be afraid to make it your own! Richard and I ended up making our own pattern, but there are plenty of templates to choose from, like these: Roof Pattern, Sides Pattern and Chimney Pattern, and Front and Back Pattern.
Once you have the main portions of your pattern cut out, decide which parts of the house will contain your windows and cut those out too.
Place your dough house templates on baking sheets and bake according to your recipe. For the parts of the house with windows, take some hard candy and place them in the middle of the window cut-outs. While baking, the candy will melt to form a window like this:
Once your dough is finished baking and your windows have hardened, it’s time to start making your icing. You will need to make A LOT. Remember, the icing not only holds your walls and roof together, but you can also use it to make snow (or cover up mistakes in my case).
Glue together your gingerbread pieces and assemble your house. Start by taking the main walls of the house and press them together with icing. Be generous with your icing, you want your house to stick together when you begin decorating.
Once the main part of your house is glued together, start assembling your roof. Let the entire house dry for at least an hour.
Now comes the fun part – decorating! There isn’t a hard fast rule for how to decorate your house. Use peppermint candies, licorice, colored frosting, candy canes – whatever you wish! Need some inspiration? Here’s how we used some of our decorations.
For the roof we decided to make shingles! This part was super easy and really fun. Just take your pack of gum and break apart each stick into 1/2 inch pieces. Use your icing to tack them down and layer them until your entire roof is covered.
For the sides of the house we made a gingerbread flower lattice. Making the flowers was easy. Just use a dab of blue frosting and place a sugar ball cake decoration in the middle. The vines are made from painted pieces of licorice. Painting the licorice did take some time, but hey, we had a contest to win!When you’re done decorating, dust the entire house with a little bit of powdered sugar for a snowy effect. Have you made any gingerbread houses this year? How did they turn out? Did you use a box kit or make your own template?
Caitlin Kavanaugh is an Editor for FaveCrafts.com.