Seven Ways to Make a Gingerbread House

Seven ways to make a gingerbread house | Tinkerlab

Have you ever made a gingerbread house? 

Last year, my 2-year old and I made super simple graham cracker gingerbread houses. I’m not even sure if you can call them gingerbread houses since they were made from graham crackers. Hmmm.

But making a real, bonafide gingerbread house: this was new territory for me, and I wasn’t prepared for how much trouble I would have with it.

After a few tears were shed and lessons learned, I thought I’d share my experience and a host of others so that you won’t have to go through the growing pains I went through.

pressing the Gingerbread house dough

Use a gingerbread house mold

To make our house, we started with a Gingerbread House Mold similar to this one.  You simply make the dough and then press it right into the mold. Brilliant!

To make it even simpler, we made a batch of gingerbread with the recipe from the Trader Joe’s gingerbread baking mix. So easy.

My kids enjoyed pressing it into the mold and my 3 year old helped pop the cookies out once they cooled. So far, so good!

Gingerbread house candy

 

Candy Toppings for Gingerbread Houses

While the dough was cooling, we went candy shopping! Mmmm. This may have been the funnest part.

Since this was mostly new to me, I asked my Facebook friends for recommendations and they had the BEST ideas (clearly, my fans are professionals).

Gingerbread house

Are you ready for this?

Candy for Gingerbread House Decorating:

  • gumdrops
  • M&M’s
  • marshmallows
  • mini candy canes
  • rainbow nerds
  • dried fruits and nuts
  • life savers
  • ribbon candy,
  • colored frosting
  • gingerbread men/trees to add to scene
  • pretzels for a fence
  • sweet tarts and those candy necklace candies
  • Christmas Captain Crunch with tree shapes
  • star shaped cookies from Trader Joe’s
  • skittles
  • jellybeans
  • cut out fruit strips into shapes
  • gingerbread shaped marshmallows
  • tootsie roll for a chimney, Pretzel squares for windows
  • crystal like sprinkles for a special touch of snow
  • sifted powdered sugar and cotton candy to look like snow
  • Twizzlers
  • red hots and mint
  • swirled red and white mints.

Gingerbread house frosting

I made a batch of royal icing, the same way I made it for our gingerbread cookies, but I added a bit more powdered sugar to thicken it. Traditionally, royal icing is made with egg whites, but because I knew my kids would lick their fingers I opted to go with this meringue powder version instead.

RECIPE FOR ROYAL ICING

  • 1/8 cup Meringue Powder
  • 1/4 cup Cold Water
  • 2 cups sifted Confectioners Sugar

Add water to meringue powder and beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar into the mixture and beat until it’s the desired consistency. Add more sugar for stiffer icing.

Gingerbread house kids table

I made individual houses out of graham crackers for our neighborhood friends, and we all worked on the big house as a collaborative project.

Gingerbread house graham crackers

Oh, we ran out of graham crackers, which is why some of the houses have this funky shape. Sigh. Maybe next year I’ll be more prepared!

Thankfully, our friends didn’t let on if they minded. We’re lucky to have such kind neighbors.

Six More Gingerbread House Ideas…

Graham Cracker House on a Milk Carton

This is the recipe my friend made for our toddler play date last year, and it was perfect for little ones. I know my friend had a hard time collecting milk cartons for all the children in our group, but once you gather the milk cartons, they’re easy to assemble. From Martha Stewart.

Gingerbread house with milk carton base

Gingerbread House from Scratch

Mama Smiles shows us how she made her house with a toddler (no small feat!) from scratch!

 Gingerbread House from Graham Crackers

Caked Alaska shows us how to make a beautiful graham cracker house (unlike my ramshackle shanty town houses). And this post from Kelley Moore is also lovely.

gingerbread house from graham crackers

Tiny Gingerbread House Perched on the Rim of a Mug

Oh my goodness! These are most definitely not for making with little kids, but what a show stopper! Couldn’t resist sharing these beauties from Not Martha.

Gingerbread House from a Kit

Or, take the easier route with a store-bought kit. A Spoonful of Sugar Designs shares their Ikea kit. Lovely.

Matzo House

Not exactly gingerbread, but we made these jelly bean matzo houses earlier this year and I couldn’t resist sharing, just to show that with some icing and candy, you can turn just about anything into a house.

Matzoh gingerbread house

Your turn! What’s your favorite way to make a gingerbread house?

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Comments

  1. Amanda @ Notjustcute says

    I was once crazy enough to build one from scratch.  Now I just hot glue graham crackers to build individual simple houses and set the boys loose to decorate.  They’re just as happy, and I feel more sane!  :0)  Thanks for all the great ideas! 

    • Rachelle says

      I totally hear you, Amanda! I think I had to have the “make from scratch” experience just one time, and next time around it’ll most likely be a kit! So funny that you hot glue the graham crackers together. I wouldn’t have thought of that!

  2. says

    it looks amazing, rachelle! and what a wonderful round-up you’ve offered, too! this is something we’ve steered clear of since the whole gluten-free thing in our home, as i’m thinking the GF cookie would crumble. i love the little graham cracker ones your neighbors are working on, too! happy holidays!

    • Rachelle says

      Hmmm, it doesn’t sound sound like gingerbread is in the stars for you. I feel so bad for all my GF friends this time of year.

  3. says

    My favorite way is to not make one. ;) I was never into the idea of baking something we couldn’t then eat, and I have no desire to attempt a GF one. This has NEVER shown up on my kids’ list when I do my yearly check-in of what they want to do during the holiday season, so it’s all good all around that we skip it.

    • Rachelle says

      Ha ha! All my GF friends are checking in today! Yeah, I thought about you and Jen when I posted this. Thanks for chiming in, Amy :) Given that it’s so time consuming, you’re probably better off doing other things anyway!

  4. says

    I have never made one! (does a paper one count?) My  sister has made them with her kids (now college aged) and they still request to make them! She must have some secrets that I must ask her. Your house turned out wonderful! Love the Looong list of candies to put on the house…..too funny. I have an old cook book (circa 19650) that explains how to make a house completely out of candy and cookies (not exactly a gingerbread house). Thanks for listing all the ways to create houses….a nice collection to contemplate. 

  5. http://crittersandcrayons.com says

    The jelly bean matzo houses are HILARIOUS and ingenious at the same time!!!  I love it!

    • Rachelle says

      I’m totally with you, Maryanne. I love our mold, but I’ll have to see how crazy my life is with the kids next year. 

    • Rachelle says

      Oh, I’m glad it had that effect, because I too felt overwhelmed by it. But there are easier ways to do it. All my friends swear by kits!

  6. Liz says

    Your blog is so incredible. Thank you for all the inspiration you provide!

    We love doing gingerbread houses every year. We always do a few purchased ones (love the ones from Trader Joe’s this year) but the most fun is usually when I make pre-assembled graham cracker right angles and let the kids go crazy with them. While they don’t look like the traditional cottages, I love that the kids can get really creative with their designs:
    http://smallhandsbigworld.blogspot.com/2011/12/advent-adventures-gingerbread-house.html

    • Rachelle says

      Hi Liz, Thanks so much for the kind feedback. I can’t believe how many house you pre-assembled. The kids all look like they had a great time…thanks for sharing the link!

  7. Chelsea says

    My nanny makes the graham cracker houses with our kids each year, and instead of using a milk carton as the internal support structure, she uses those little cartons of goldfish crackers, which are SO easy to find (at Target, at least).  Plus, the kids can munch on something slightly more nutritious than candy while they make them :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I especially love about this project, which looks oh-so-similar to the beloved gingerbread house, is the reminder that we can borrow ideas from other seasons. Here’s another seasonal mash-up [...]