It may seem fussy, but learning how to make a gingerbread house for the holidays is a fun activity for the whole family-the littlest toddler trying hard to keep from eating all the gumdrops, the artistic teenager and the amateur architect Dad. If you are short on time or energy, you don't have to go to the extreme of baking sheets of gingerbread, buying molds for walls and roof or making elaborate plans for your gingerbread house. Nor do you need to resort to a pre-made gingerbread house kit. A nice compromise is a gingerbread house made from graham crackers, a variety of candy and lots of imagination.
Your Gingerbread House Frame
Keep an eye open for a cardboard box the size you want your gingerbread house to be. Remove the top flaps and, using cardboard from other boxes, make a slanted roof and tape it on with masking tape.
Set your house frame on a large sheet of cardboard or foam board.
You'll need a thick icing to hold everything onto your house frame. Here's a recipe for icing that's easy to spread but that dries quickly and as hard as cement.
Gingerbread House Icing Recipe
This recipe can be doubled for a larger gingerbread house.
Sift together powdered sugar and cream of tartar. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer for about eight minutes at high speed. Keep the bowl covered with a damp dishtowel while you're working with it, to keep the icing from hardening in the bowl.
Buy two boxes of generic or store brand graham crackers. One box may be enough, but you'll want to use only unbroken graham crackers for a better look. Save the broken crackers to crush for graham cracker crusts.
Spread some icing on the house frame and press a graham cracker onto it. Don't push too hard or the graham cracker will break. The more icing you use, the easier the construction will be.
Place the graham crackers so the left and right edges of each wall have the same leftover space. Then cut the graham crackers with a sharp knife (a quick, firmly pressed cut is the cleanest cut) to fit the space.
There are several different options for building a gingerbread house roof. You can lay out vanilla wafer cookies, Necco Wafers candies or, my personal favorite, shredded wheat cereal with frosting for the look of a thatched roof with a dusting of snow.
With whatever roof material you use, start at the bottom of the roof and slather on a line of icing. Place the cookies, candy or cereal in a line across the bottom. Repeat with a line above, overlapping slightly the row below it, so that each layer hangs down over the top of the row below. A nice effect is to stagger each piece horizontally, like a brick wall is built.
Now comes the fun part! Let your imagination go crazy with ideas for edible doors, windows, chimneys and lawn ornaments. The bulk candy section of your grocery store will have lots of building materials. Also scan the baking aisle of your grocery store. Chocolate chips, sprinkles and nonpareils can be decorations for your gingerbread house. This is definitely a time when variety is the spice of life!
For a chimney, stack caramels (unwrapped) along the side of the house, extending up above the roofline slightly.
For a door, use a chocolate bar or other rectangular, flat candy bar. Add an M&M for the doorknob.
For windows, try square crackers with string licorice dividing them into window panes.
For lampposts, use candy canes.
For a fence, with a cake-decorating bag, squeeze a line of icing along the ground and set in pretzel twists in a line.
For a porch, lay a stack of graham crackers on the floor and "cement" in two candy canes to support a graham cracker roof.
For a snowman on the lawn, use stacked marshmallows.
For grass, tint coconut with green food coloring and sprinkle around the outside of the house.
For snow on the ground, shake a sifter full of powdered sugar when your house is completed.
For a Christmas wreath on the door, use a Life Saver candy.
Once you have the basics built, cover your house with as much candy decoration as you want. Make a candy frame around the windows and doors. Line up colorful gumdrops along the edges of your house. Skittles, peppermints, Red Hots, jelly beans, string licorice, gum drops, candy canes, Tootsie Rolls, PEZ candies and Hershey Kisses can help you to create a magical wonderland for the whole family to enjoy.
Graham cracker gingerbread houses are fun to make and delicious to consume. No matter the time of year, these houses are a fun craft to make and a delicious dessert or snack for the whole family. Here's an easy recipe that you and your kids can start with to develop your own gingerbread house ideas.
Try these fun tips for decorating a gingerbread house. Instead of making the same house year after year, jazz it up with these great ideas.
If you've spent hours laboring over every miniature architectural detail of your gingerbread house from the basic construction of the house itself to down to the tiniest little details, odds are you want to keep it around for next year.
Have you ever dreamed of making a gingerbread house, but thought it was too difficult? It's not! It requires no more skill than is needed to make sugar cookies.