During the Christmas season, you can’t get more festive than icing up a gingerbread house.
They’re nearly as iconic as a tree, candy canes, or Santa Claus -and, you see kits and supplies for them all over the stores.
Are you planning on caving into the pressure, and building your own? Then you’ve come to the right place!
Follow along with my simple steps and tips.
1. Plan what you’re going to do.
Are you a beginner? An expert? Wanting to break out and try sugar-glossed windows this time around?
It’s all got to start with a plan. If you’re serious, the only limit is your imagination and patience.
2. Consider easy options.
If you’re a first-time gingerbreader, I suggest going with a kit or with the less-authentic graham cracker option. Crackers are especially good if you’re looking at a gingerbread house party, having children involved at all, or want to keep things quick and cheap.
The other nice thing about kits and graham crackers with store-bought frosting is that everything will be ready right when you feel like making your houses. All it takes is a quick trip to the store, and a bunch of candy toppings.
3. If you are going totally authentic, plan ahead.
I’ve just read up on the gingerbread process, and it’s a time commitment. Apparently, once you have a good recipe, you’ll want to ensure it all cools and sets before building with it. It can take days.
Despite that, I fully intend to make one. I just can’t resist the delicious smell of real gingerbread, or the allure of completing a difficult craft.
Are you determined as well? Get a gingerbread house recipe, and go for it!
4. Think frosting.
If you have a background in home building or remodeling, then you know that gingerbread houses are nothing like regular ones. They’re traditionally put together with frosting: the most delicious mortar available.
Something you may not know is that a good house frosting can be tricky, or need a few hours to set up.
Another something you may not know is that many hardcore gingerbread housers cheat and use hot glue. Those super large ones you’ve seen in competitions or on display? Most likely, they owe their long-standing solid state to a glue gun.
Don’t worry -the icing and candy on the outside is edible. It’s all part of the façade.
5. Fabulous designs.
You’ve got your materials and are ready for building! Did you decide what houseplan to build, yet? Fortunately for you, the internet is chock-full of blueprint ideas.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, draw up your own. Just remember that it will be you putting it all together.
6. Actual assemblage.
Get the base for your house all set up. Boards wrapped in foil, cookie sheets, or the plastic bases that come with kits all work well.
Set your pieces out, with paper labels, so you know which wall is going where. Ensure that edges are straight and even, but don’t chip off pieces by being too rough. If you’re graham crackering, this will not be necessary.
Once the icing is ready to use, spoon a couple of cups into a pastry bag with a medium to large tip. You can also use a Ziplock bag with the corner snipped. You need to watch that opening with the Ziplock option, as it gradually tears a larger hole.
Work slowly and methodically to secure all the walls together. Wait for your main floor walls to be set before moving on; cover the icing in between so it doesn’t dry out.
If you’re thinking multi-level housing, consider reinforcing your main floor with icing-adhered cardboard supports on the inside.
7. The fun part!
Hopefully, you’ve got a stable house that is mostly straight. Now, it’s time for the candy-coated accents.
For kid-friendly décor, ramp up your candy collection and let them have at it. Hansel and Gretel will be proud of what your littles paste on their exteriors.
The most popular candies for gingerbread houses include: gumdrops, candy canes (little ones), licorice, M&Ms, and sprinkles. Find tons of delicious candy at a bulk price here.
8. A More Sophisticated Exterior.
If you’ve built up a mansion, you’re looking at a planned, authentic outside. You want an edible roof that looks like tile or thatch, tasteful accents on the walls, and sugar windows.
Thanks to the wonders of confections these days, you can usually create the exact look you’re seeking.
Do you really want a thatched roof? Try Frosted Wheats cereal. Looking for tiles? Try Necco Wafers.
9. Landscaping Ideas.
Usually, houses are not isolated structures. They have trees, flowers, paths, other houses, or snow around them.
Branch out a bit with a few evergreens or hedges, made from frosting or gumdrops. Lay a few Necco Wafers down for a path. Sprinkle coconut flakes or white frosting all around the outside.
If you’ve got the space and time, a small mirror on your base can look like a skating pond. Rock candy can give your materials an upgrade. Making a space for a light inside would really accentuate those stained “glass” windows you installed.
10. In parting, I’d like to share a few favorite houses for consideration. You may not get to them this year, but Christmas will come again in a few hundred days and you can try them then.