Making the Perfect Gingerbread House is Easy with these 15 tips.
We love to make Gingerbread houses each year. It has been a tradition ever since Jess was a little girl. And even though she is grown and living away, she comes home for the holidays and we always take the time to make a new house. These 15 tips will make sure that a perfect Gingerbread house is not something that you only see on Pinterest!
Making a Gingerbread House is such a fun family pastime. There is lots of eating and talking and laughing when things start to topple over, as they always will at some point in the process. But that is how you learn to make a great gingerbread house. Practice makes perfect as they say.
Frosting or Hot Glue? Both of these work well. A frosted house is edible (and that is a lot of the fun of making a gingerbread house, isn’t it?) But a hot glued house is quicker to make. So make that decision first and then move on to the other tips. If you plan to use an icing, see my recipe for Royal icing. It is made with just three ingredients and keeps the house together perfectly.
Homemade or store bought? There are lots of inexpensive Gingerbread house kits out there and they make a very nice house. We often used these in the past. But at least one season, bake the Gingerbread by hand and cut it to size. Imagine the delight when you tell everyone that it really was made from scratch!
Decide on the Design. Think ahead ~ How much space will you have to display the house? There is no point in spending the time to make an enormous gingerbread village if all you have room for is a tiny 9″ sized cottage. Also….Gingerbread creations do not have to be just houses. Think outside the box. This cute Gingerbread Train kit would really delight young kids!
For this year, I decided to make a traditional candy style Gingerbread house. Jess loves these and I wanted to surprise her with one similar to those we did when she was a little girl. Here is how it turned out. See the tutorial for the project here.
Choose a cool dry day to make the project. If you try to make the house when it is humid, the results will be more crumbly. The humidity in the air will also keep the frosting soft and you really want nice stiff frosting for best results.
Think outside the box. Sure, we all love basic Gingerbread houses, but making the same design year after year gets old fast. There are lots of other ideas to go with too. If your family is a Peanuts fan, try a Snoopy dog Gingerbread house. Do you love to move your Elf on a Shelf around for the kiddos? Why not make a whole Elf on a Shelf House this year? The kids will adore this idea!
Assemble all your supplies. Make your frosting and have it ready in both bowls and in piping bags with tips. This will make the whole process go much faster. Unwrap the candies and have a sort of production line kind of thing going. All this helps to cut down on the time. A muffin tin makes the perfect place to put all the candy and toppings.
Protect your frosting. You want the frosting to harden on the gingerbread house, not in the bowl. Keep it from going hard while you work by adding a moist kitchen towel over the bowl holding the frosting.
Food Coloring. You can color your frosting for special touches, but if you do, use a paste food coloring. Liquid food coloring thins out the frosting too much.
Cut a sturdy base. You will want a base for your house to sit on. There are lots of ways to do this. For the least expensive way, just cut out a sturdy cardboard base to put under the area where the house will sit. This gives focus to the work area and it can be moved around as you work instead of you having to re-position yourself to work on various areas of the design. For my house, I used a piece of foam board that I had on hand. It is pure white and won’t need finishing on the edges when done. I have also used cellophone covered cardboard too, and that worked fine.
Start with the seams. A gingerbread house needs to sit in position as you add the decorative parts to it. If you make the seams first and let the icing harden in place before you start on the other decorations, it will be much more sturdy. You can also cover the untidy seam areas later when you add more icing. So build the house totally before you add any other decor items.
Take plenty of time. Sure, we all want that project to be done so that we can move on to other pressing holiday things, but a good gingerbread house takes time to make. The icing needs to set for at least a few hours and sometimes over night. If you plan to bake from scratch, you will need an extra day. One to make the pieces and one to do the decorating.
Don’t be limited by your kit. A basic gingerbread kit will give you everything you need to make a house, but think outside the box a bit. What else do you have on hand to add some extra pizzazz to the house? Pretzels, striped gum, ribbon candy, and candy canes all make great decor items. Mini marshmallows can be used in any number of ways to resemble snow.
Add some “lighting.” Make some lamp posts by simply adding a gum drop to a cake pop stick. Instant lighting! What could be easier to do? They take all of one second!
Add those Finishing Touches. Add the look of freshly fallen snow by used a sugar duster to sprinkle the house with confectioner’s sugar. Use a piping tip to add icicles to the edge of the eaves. There are lots of ideas that can be used to give your house a special look.
.Find a safe spot for the finished house. One of the funniest (and most frustrating) moments of our gingerbread making attempts was the year that our German Shepherd dog, Rusty, ate our whole Gingerbread house after it was perfectly finished and we went to bed. Trust me. Dogs LOVE gingerbread…and frosting…and candy…and everything else that goes on a gingerbread house.
Need some inspiration for a design? Head on over to my holiday site – Always the Holidays for ideas for 17 Gingerbread House designs.
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