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how to make a gingerbread house Yesterday I gave you my favorite recipe for gingerbread.  Today I am going to give you some pointers and tips for putting together a gingerbread house.  If you have any that you would like to share, (and please do), let us know in the comments section.

One of the most fun parties I have ever been to was given by my friends Beth and Colleen.  They sent an invite to a gingerbread house making party and on the invitation was a pattern and a recipe.  You brought the baked pieces and she supplied the rest.  When we got there, everyone had a spot, a cake round to put them on, a piping bag full of royal icing, and every kind of candy that you can imagine.  Her dad even took the mirrors out of dollar store compacts to make skating ponds with.  We sat there for hours, assembling our houses, decorating, and talking and I still remember it as one of the most favorite Christmas memories.

I really like making gingerbread houses with my children, but I feel that I must tell you a few things first to prepare you.  1.  It will make a giant mess, over the course of a few days.  2.  Your children will eat more candy in one sitting than they probably will eat in a month.  3.  It will be so much fun that it will be totally worth having dried royal icing all over your house and hyper children.

The first thing that I am going to recommend if this is your first gingerbread house is to start small.  I have made many houses before, but this year we invited a friend over to make a house with us and I wanted it to be really fun and not stressful.  I found this cute little elf cottage pattern at Simply Recipes (there are some good tips in this article as well).  It is the perfect size for children and beginners.  There are tons of patterns out there on the ol’ Interweb so take a peek around and find something that you like.  I really like the train from Family Fun and have made it a few times.  It is also good for beginners.

how to make a gingerbread house When you make your dough, it needs to chill for at least 4 hours, better yet, overnight.  Print out your pattern.  I use card stock so that the pieces are sturdier.  Roll out the dough fairly thick and lay the pattern pieces on top.  I like to cut out my pieces using a pizza cutter.  Put them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake them.  Leave them on the cookie sheet until they are completely cool.  I made 4 houses, so I did this 4 times.  Make sure that you have all of your pieces cut out.  Double check.  Nothing is worse than trying to assemble a house and realizing that you forgot to cut out one side of the house.  I should mention that I used 2 batches of gingerbread for these 4 houses.  I had just enough.  I would make 3 batches if I were doing this again.  I would have liked to have made people also.

how to make a gingerbread house In a perfect and completely organized world, you would let these sit overnight.  You want them to be really solid for building.

how to make a gingerbread house Now you need some glue.  Otherwise known as royal icing.  Use whatever recipe you like, but I like this one:

4 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons meringue powder
5-7 Tablespoons water

Sift the sugar and meringue powder into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add 5 Tablespoons of water.  Use the paddle and mix on medium for about 7 to 10 minutes.  You want this to be fairly thick.  It is going to be what holds the house together.  If you need to, add a bit more water.  Drops at a time.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is amazing how royal icing can go from so close to runny in a matter of seconds.  Go slowly.  Put the icing in a piping bag fitted with a round tip.  I used an Ateco #10, it was the perfect size for assembling the house.  Royal icing will last overnight as long as it is in an airtight container.  However, it will not last if it is in a piping bag overnight.  The water will start to separate and it will run.  So at the end of the day, pipe whatever is left in the piping bag into the container and start with a fresh piping bag the next day.

how to make a gingerbread house Get yourself something to make the house on.  I like these 10-inch cake rounds that I got at a bakery supply store.  Michaels has them too.  I have also used wood.  They need to be sturdy as the house can get pretty heavy.  I like to start with a right angle.  Usually the back piece and one of the sides.  I pipe the bottom and put the piece down on it.  Then I pipe the seams.  Let it rest for a few minutes and start to harden before you move on.  I use something (like this little milk jug) to prop them while the dry.  Do the other side and let that rest.  Add the front. I was making 4 houses, so by the time I got back to the first one, it was set enough to move on.  This part is really important as it will make life so much easier when you are decorating.  It will not fall apart and the kids will not be freaking out that the roof has caved in.

how to make a gingerbread house Let the base dry for a bit before you add the roof.  I piped a little scallop on the bottom because it looks cute, but it also adds a bit of structure and stability to the house.  When you are ready to add the roof, pipe icing around the edges of one side.  Place your cookie piece on the icing and keep for hand on it for a minute or two.  You really want it to stick.  The roof is always the hardest part for me.  When the one side is hard, add the other side.

how to make a gingerbread house

Your house should be put together.  I do this the day before I am going to decorate it.  I know that we are now on Day 3 of gingerbread house making, but I did warn you that it would take a few days.  If you do not have the time to let it sit, it is not the end of the world.  Just be more careful about handling it.

how to make a gingerbread house Now for the most fun part, decorating.  Do yourself a favor and buy a disposable tablecloth to go over your work area.  Have everything set out and ready to go.  The piping bags had an Ateco #3 tip on them.  We had M&Ms, licorice, Dots, Starlite Mints, gummy bears, sprinkles, coconut, ice cream cones, all kinds of fun stuff.  I like to formulate a plan before I start, but the kids just go town.

how to make a gingerbread house Will took his house making very seriously.  See how his house is leaning?  I did not let the icing set long enough before I started to put the houses together.  Do as I say, not as I do.

how to make a gingerbread house Andrew made a gingerbread firehouse.  We had a to give more than one lesson on proper piping bag technique.  It was fun to see the kids use their imagination.

how to make a gingerbread house Will put a gummy bear walking in to his house.  He really was into this house making.  He sat there for almost 2 hours and barely made a peep.

how to make a gingerbread house Matthew liked sampling.  Well, so did Andrew.  Okay, so did everyone.  I am in no hurry to eat another M&M anytime soon.

how to make a gingerbread house We had such a good time.  We sat at the table working on our houses for over 2 hours.  The kids had a ball and so did the moms.

how to make a gingerbread house Here are some cute ideas for gingerbread houses and gingerbread making parties:

One Charming Party
Family Fun
Pictures of gingerbread houses
Oven Love Gingerbread House Making Party
Pizzazzerie’s Gingerbread Party

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28 Responses to How to Make a Gingerbread House

  1. What a fun time! We did gingerbread houses with our kids last night–it’s a Christmas tradition and they look forward to it every year :) We’ve also used the train from Family Fun before…it’s very cute :)
    Tiffiny Felix recently posted..The Ridiculous Cupcake Maker

  2. Diem says:

    Wish I had your recipe for gingerbread earlier this week. The one I tried was too intense in flavor for my taste. I love the gingerbread party idea!

  3. corey says:

    We had such a great time making gingerbread houses with you. You were so sweet to invite us over for such a special holiday activity. Andrew just loves his gingerbread fire house. We are going to make this a yearly tradition. Maybe next year Matthew will want to do a little decorating and not just sampling….or not. :)

  4. Natalie says:

    your houses are absolutely adorable. i love the cut-out details. i just stumbled over here to look at your blondie-in-a-jar gift and noticed the gingerbread post. thanks for linking me! :)

  5. We made gingerbread play dough today, but I really want to make the real thing next week. Before I had 4 children of my own, I used to make little gingerbread houses with my kindergarten classes. We used graham crackers and milk cartons and the students took the decorating very seriously. It was a highlight of the year! Thanks for sharing your tips and the recipe.

  6. hanna says:

    I’m dying to try these!!!!! But I’m so afraid I will spend hours making everything and then they’ll fall apart or something! Anyway, great job! I love your blog! I just posted a recipe that I used for my daughters baby shower and found through you. I changed it up a bit but lovely ideas you have:) Thanks!
    hanna recently posted..Christmas is Coming

  7. cookin4less says:

    If you don’t have time to make the gingerbread or just want a faster alternative…you can use graham crackers and they even have gingerbread flavored graham crackers this year. Doesn’t taste as good as your gingerbread I’m sure but it’s still fun though. We made them in my girls kindergarten classes when they were little, so graham crackers were the way to go. I wouldn’t have wanted to make enough gingerbread house pieces for 20+ kids. LOL We haven’t made them in years. I may just have to make some with my grands next week. :-)

  8. [...] favorite gingerbread recipe for houses and people.  There is also a how to make a gingerbread house post that might be helpful for you as [...]

  9. So, I’ve done these parties before, and my secret? Hot glue! No one is gonna eat the houses anyway, so the assembly goes very quickly, you can cover the glued seams with the royal icing and it will look just like it should, but with no waiting for the icing to dry!
    Candy from Candied Fabrics recently posted..Custom Messenger to Hold MacBook and iPad

  10. [...] favorite gingerbread recipe for houses and people.  There is also a how to make a gingerbread house post that might be helpful for you as [...]

  11. Linda says:

    What dimensions are you cute little houses?

  12. Erica says:

    Had our annual gingerbread party last night. Wanted to let you know that your recipe/ideas were great! I usually buy the gingerbread house kit but it could be pricey especially buying six houses. This was my first time making a gingerbread house and it was easy and they came out perfect!!. My guest were amazed that they were homemade they commented that they looked store bought. Thanks!!!

  13. [...] Usually by this time, I have put a good dent in my holiday shopping, my house is decorated, and my gingerbread house made and covered in candy.  Not this year.  We bought a tree this morning, and it is the first [...]

  14. [...] believe that we are already at week 12 of the 12th week of Christmas?  It flew by.  This weekend, gingerbread houses, sugar cookies, and some serious [...]

  15. I love making ginger bread houses with my kids. I just added it to my blog and I think next year I will attempt to make our own from scratch. Thanks for the great tips.
    Andrea (questfordelish) recently posted..Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies

  16. [...] The Best Chocolate Cake Ever (which is what we are making in these pictures)Pancake MuffinsBanana BreadHomemade PizzaFrozen BananasStrawberry Ice CreamChocolate Chip CookiesHow to Make a Gingerbread House [...]

  17. [...] don’t like gingerbread, but I do like festive food. I read a lovely post a few years ago at Baked Bree and decided to give it a go for myself. I didn’t use a [...]

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