Holiday Gingerbread House

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House?  Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!As a kid, Christmas always involved gingerbread houses.  Big ones, small ones, fancy ones, simple ones.  They all counted.  And they were all over our house!  I seriously think we had at least one gingerbread house in every room.  You see, my mom got into making gingerbread houses…and then they sorta became a yearly tradition.

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!At first, my mom just made simple square houses for my sister and me to decorate.  That soon turned into making multiple houses so our friends could come over and decorate them.  She’d make the basic houses a couple of days before, and then set up bowls and jars of pretty much every kind of candy imaginable.  We had a blast!  And some of the candy even made it onto the houses.

That tradition continued for years, and it grew to the point that my mom would make enough houses for our entire grade to decorate.  That was 50+ houses…and she’d do it for my grade as well as my sister’s grade.  We’d all go into the lunchroom at our elementary school and decorate gingerbread houses.  Like I said, gingerbread houses were just part of Christmas for us!

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!As we got older, my mom stopped making hundreds of little gingerbread houses and began making larger ones to serve as the centerpiece of our holiday table.  She made all sorts of different houses.  One of the most memorable houses was a replica of the Charleston-style single house where we grew up as kids.

Years later, when I got a job teaching Latin in Baton Rouge, LA, my mom made me a Roman temple gingerbread house.  She didn’t tell me she made it, and when I flew up that year for Thanksgiving, she had this temple waiting on me.  I hand-carried that bad boy back with me on the plane.  The box didn’t fit in the overhead bin or under my feet…but I wasn’t about to check it.  Instead, the flight attendant was nice enough to stash it at the bottom of her locker at the front of the plane.  I bet that was the first (and last) time she helped transport a Roman temple gingerbread house!

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!But wait.  The gingerbread house story continues!  After my sister and I had moved out, my mother helped start a gingerbread house gala in downtown Raleigh.  Every December, local restaurants and bakeries would create fantastic gingerbread houses.  Some were replicas of iconic local buildings while others were just whimsical in nature.  The houses were then displayed at a banquet-style event where folks could make silent bids on them.  (The money was all donated to charity.)  You guys, some of these houses were incredible!  The bakers and chefs and pastry cooks must have spent days creating them.

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!Needless to say, I’m quite fond of making gingerbread houses.  And my mom always used Honey Maid graham crackers for her gingerbread houses.  She must have bought hundreds of boxes of graham crackers over the years!  In fact, if I ever wanted a snack and it was anytime near Christmas, I could always wander into the kitchen and find some leftover scraps of graham crackers.  Delicious!

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!
Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!
honey-maid-in-storeSo this year, I decided to take a stab at making my own holiday gingerbread house.  When I was on my weekly grocery store run to Walmart, I grabbed some Honey Maid Graham Crackers and a whole assortment of candy…you know, for decorating purposes only.  My mom used to use little milk cartons to provide stability for her houses.  In fact, she’d go to our elementary school and collect the cartons from the lunchroom.  Milk cartons seem to pretty much be a thing of the past now.  So I decided to create this house with no box underneath.  Honestly, it wasn’t that hard!  I just took my time with making the cuts, and I let each stage dry before moving on.  I’ve included a ‘recipe’ below, but here are some of the tips I learned:

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!Tips for Making a Holiday Gingerbread House

  • Take your time.  Don’t try to rush the process.  Take time to cut the graham crackers.  Take time to attach the pieces together.  Let the royal icing (aka “gingerbread house glue”) dry before moving onto the next step.  Building a fun gingerbread house should be more of a slow job than a sprint!
  • Use a serrated knife to cut the graham crackers.  I found that using a serrated knife to gently “saw” the graham crackers into the appropriate shapes led to less broken crackers.  (That also meant less snacks for the carpenter…)
  • Cover the bowl of royal icing with a wet paper towel when not using it.  Royal icing hardens quickly.  The last thing you need is a whole bowl of rock solid royal icing!
  • Know that your house will not come out quite as planned.  Be ok with it!  I had originally intended to have windows on the roof of my house.  I couldn’t get the windows to look right, so I scrapped that idea.  (Well, ate that idea is more accurate.)  No big deal.  I decided to add a front porch instead.  Adapt as you go!  You may need to redo a certain cut once you begin to build the house.  That’s ok!
  • And last but not least, have fun.  Building a holiday gingerbread house should be a fun activity!  Build the house itself one day, and then let the kids help you decorate it the next day.  Enjoy the process…and take lots of pictures!  Oh, and don’t eat all of the candy before you decorate the house.

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!

 

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House? Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!

Holiday Gingerbread House

Have you ever made a Holiday Gingerbread House?  Here are some tips and tricks for this classic Christmas activity!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 681kcal

Ingredients

For the House

  • 1 14.4-oz. box Honey Maid graham crackers

For the Royal Icing

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp meringue powder see note
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp warm water

For Decorating House

  • red rope candy
  • candy cane rods
  • frosted shredded wheat cereal
  • ice cream cones
  • 2 cups green frosting
  • 2 10-oz bags Wilton Candy Melts, Bright White
  • gum drops
  • small pretzel twists
  • Sourpatch Kids
  • 1 large rectangular cake board or study piece of cardboard
  • chocolate candy bar for door
  • red and white round candy
  • peppermints

Instructions

To Build House

  • Make the Royal Icing by combining all ingredients in a countertop mixer. Beat on medium speed for 8-10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. (Tip: Keep the royal icing covered with a damp paper towel when not using.)
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with a small tip (or a sandwich bag with one corner snipped off) with royal icing.
  • To make the side walls, lay two graham crackers lengthwise next to each other. (See right side of prep image in post.) Dab a bit of royal icing on the seam between the crackers and use a broken piece of graham cracker to hold in place. Repeat process to create the second side wall. Set walls aside until icing is dry.
  • To make the front of house, lay a graham cracker lengthwise. Break another graham cracker in half. Cut this half into 2 triangles as shown in the center of the prep image. Attach the triangle to the top of the full-length cracker. Repeat this process 3 more times. (Note: The triangle will have to be ‘flipped’ the opposite direction for 2 of these pieces. Just lay the pieces out before cutting and attaching to help plan out the pieces.) Set front/back pieces aside until icing is dry.
  • To make the roof of the house, lay a graham cracker lengthwise. Cut another graham cracker in half lengthwise. Attach the half cracker to the full cracker as shown on the left side of the prep image. Repeat to create the roof for the other side of the house. Set roof pieces aside until icing is dry.
  • Place sides of house flat on a piece of wax paper. Pipe two windows on each piece with royal icing. Cut 8 pieces of red rope candy to match height of windows. Pipe an extra line of icing on either side of each window and attach 1 piece of red rope candy on each side of the windows. (See photo in post.) Let icing dry completely.
  • Place a side wall and a front/back piece at 90° to each other; prop up using a small can or glass. Pipe inside and outside of adjoining seam to attach pieces together. Continue around the house, attaching the appropriate pieces together. Pipe each seam generously with royal icing. (Tip: Use more small cans/glasses to help prop up the walls while you build the house.) Press a candy cane rod into each of the four corner seams. At this point, the house should be standing upright with four sides. Let dry completely before moving on.
  • Next, pipe icing along top edges of the house (both horizontal sides and angled front/back pieces). Carefully lay roof pieces in place. Pipe each seam with extra icing for added stability. Press candy cane rods (or straight section of a traditional candy cane) into this icing.
  • Finally, build the awning for the front porch by breaking off one “piece” of graham cracker (i.e. ¼ of a full graham cracker). This will be the top of the awning. Cut two triangles out of additional crackers to serve as the sides of the awning. Attach these two sides first, using the top of awning as a guide to measure how far apart to place the side triangles. Let the triangles dry in place (use plenty of icing) before attaching the top. Attach two candy canes under the front corners to support the awning.

To Decorate House

  • Spread thin layer of royal icing on roof. Layer roof with toasted shredded wheat cereal, alternating between frosted and unfrosted sides of cereal.
  • To create trees, cut tops off of several ice cream cones to create various sizes. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small star tip with green frosting. Pipe rows of small stars around ice cream cones. Set trees aside to dry. (Tip: Leave the very top of the ice cream unfrosted. You can use this to transfer the trees into place and then frost the top of the trees later.)
  • Melt the Wilton Candy Melts according to package directions. Using an offset spatula, spread melted chocolate over entire cake board. Gently set house into frosting. Place trees around the house. Create a walkway up to house using Sour Patch Kids. Create a front door to the house using two sections of chocolate candy bar.
  • Place gum drops along side of house as bushes.
  • Create a fence for house by placing pretzel twists into frosting.
  • Decorate top and front of house with red and white round candy and peppermints. Be creative and have fun!

Notes

Design adapted from Gingerbread Christmas Cottage
Note: Meringue powder can be purchased at your local craft store.

This Holiday Gingerbread House post was sponsored by Honey Maid, but the opinions are entirely my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands that support Spiced!

Spiced® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that spicedblog.com receives a small commission by linking to Amazon.com and other sites at no cost to the readers.

32 Comments

  1. David, your mom sure is the bombdiggity! What a fantastic idea and legacy to start that Gingerbread House Gala to benefit local charities! Robbie is in for a treat with this tradition of y’alls! Btw, I love making gingerbread houses with Honey Maid cinnamon graham crackers too – IMO they are so much easier to use than baked gingerbread and if I mess up (which I do often) there’s plenty more Honey Maid graham crackers to start fresh with! And those cinnamon ones smell so darn awesome! Your gingerbread house is a work of art, Dude! I need to get me some meringue powder and try out your royal icing recipe this year! Thanks David and happy Thursday!

    1. You know, my Mom really is pretty awesome when it comes to the gingerbread houses. As a kid, it was just routine that she would pull out the fixins’ for gingerbread houses…but looking back, those are some of my best Christmas memories! I’ve been wondering if starting a Gingerbread House Gala up here for charity would be feasible. Anyways, this house was a super fun project! Thanks so much!!

    1. Thank you so much, Sharmila! My Mom really is the queen when it comes to making gingerbread houses…I just tried to channel some of her creativity. 🙂 And, yes, do try making a house for Christmas. It takes patience, but it’s actually a lot of fun!

  2. I love evrything about this post, I love you family’s tradition. Robbie is in for a big treat!! Loving your Gingerbread house! so cute!

    1. Why thank you so much, Gaila! I can’t wait until Robbie is old enough to help with the gingerbread house building. I had a bunch of fun making this one…and maybe eating some scraps along the way. Haha!

  3. Hi David! What a wonderful childhood you and your sister had! You have so many traditions to pass on to Robbie! Think of the fun he and your sister’s daughter will have carrying on the tradition of “building” (and eating) these!

    1. You know, you’re totally right, Dorothy. Growing up, I remember my sister and I would fight like cats and dogs. But now we are great friends…and we have wonderful memories of making gingerbread houses with Mom each year. I can’t wait until Robbie is old enough to make gingerbread houses with me…and with Cousin Blakely! 🙂 Thank you!!

  4. Such a fun tradition!! Hubby and I would buy the packaged gingerbread houses and never have a chance (or make time) to put them together and they’d end up on the pantry shelf until after Christmas and then we would put them together, lol 😀 ….a little too late, right? I love the shredded wheat cereal on top! You’re inspiring me to do one this year and have it actually in time to enjoy during the holidays. Have a great weekend, David!

    1. Hey, there’s no such thing as too late when it comes to Christmas fun, Dawn! There’s a reason why Christmas in July works. 😉 And we may or may not leave our tree up until the first week in January. I just can’t bear taking it down each year! Definitely try your hand at a house this year…it requires patience, but it’s so much fun to channel your inner creative elf!

  5. David, you’re such a cheater! I do believe a gingerbread house should be made of…let me guess…gingerbread?! But indeed, I like this idea too, and the house looks beautiful. Answering your question, yes, we made 2 gingerbread houses last year. The one which Andrey assembled was well done (technically) but quite traditionally decorated. A little boring (My words, not Andrey’s):) Mine went a little bit awry, but the appearance was just outstanding (my words, not Andrey’s):) This year we’ll pass though, it’s really time-consuming. But you can always make, assemble, and send few houses to us, and we’ll do the most complicated and responsible part of work – its decorating:)

    1. Haha…yeah, right! Graham crackers are where it’s at for gingerbread houses, my friend! Plus, if it was actual gingerbread cookies, I’d have eaten them long before they turned into a house. Haha! Making houses sure is time-consuming, but it’s so much fun. And think about the memories you’re making! I challenge you guys to come together and build one epic house together this year. I’ll be waiting for the pictures. 🙂

  6. Whoa, your family really has a strong history of gingerbread house making!! This house is so pretty. We decorated a gingerbread house every year growing up, but my mom always bought one of those kits… but I love graham crackers way more than gingerbread, and this looks so yummy!

    1. You know, I didn’t think much of it when we were kids. Gingerbread houses were just a regular thing. But now, looking back, those are some of my favorite holiday memories! You guys should give it a shot…just keep Harley away as she might eat the front porch. 😉 Thanks, Nicole!

    1. I’ve totally seen those gingerbread house “oops” on Pinterest. Not sure how yours compare to those, but there are some pretty funny ones out there. I had a bunch of fun making this one, though! It just required patience and precision…but I happen to like that kinda thing. 🙂 Thanks so much, Megan!

  7. Oh, my GOD!!! Your mom is a genius, David. This gingerbread house reminded me of my childhood days. We had a tradition of making this kind of houses on Diwali using the original clay, which we used to get from the river Ganga. We used to decorate the house, we would keep an idol of Lord Ganesha and conduct pooja’s there. And after the festival is over that clay house would be our doll house.
    BTW this gingerbread house is really beautiful, I really liked that brown door of this house…. 🙂

    1. Wow, I’ve never heard of that tradition about making houses out of clay from the river Ganga. How cool is that?? I bet you have some awesome childhood memories of making those houses! Thanks so much, Puja! 🙂

  8. I’ve never made a gingerbread house; I’m waiting to have a few kids before I try my hand at this delicate masterpiece. I can’t imagine having a gingerbread house in every room, that sounds like a house I would love to visit 🙂 Do you have any pictures of her Roman Temple Gingerbread house, I would love to see it. This Gingerbread house rocks David.

    1. You know, gingerbread houses really are a lot of fun, Mary! You should totally give it a shot! It just takes patience, but I actually had a blast making this one. I turned on some holiday music, hid my phone and just got lost in the creative world of gingerbread house construction! 🙂 Sadly, I don’t have any photos of that Roman Temple Gingerbread house. I looked and looked and looked actually! It was printed in the school newsletter, and I thought I had a copy of that. But I can’t find it for the life of me! If I come across it somewhere, I’ll definitely let you know. Thanks, Mary!

  9. Great piping work on the tree! I wish they sold Honey Maid biscuits over here, as this looks a lot more neat and tidy then when I try to make gingerbread houses. This reminds me a lot of like when my aunt used to make us little houses with bags of candy and royal icing to decorate. Very little ever made it on the house…..

    1. Why thank you, kind sir! I didn’t realize Honey Maid crackers (biscuits) were only in the U.S. Maybe I can include a couple boxes along with that coffee shipment! 🙂 And I totally second your comment on very little icing making it’s way to the house…that’s how my sister and I did things when we were kids, too! Thanks, Matt!

    1. Thanks so much, Kathy! The cereal really is a great trick for the roof. It looks awesome…and it’s pretty hard to mess up! Well, unless you eat too much of the roof first…haha. 🙂

  10. What a lovely Christmas tradition! Your mum sounds amazing – incredible how many gingerbreads she managed to make each year and creations like the Charleston house and the Roman temple. How lovely of the stewardess to keep it safe for you – I am sure she secretly would have liked to keep it all to herself 😉 Robbie is going to have so much fun with you in the future building them. I never made a gingerbread house but might give it a try this year – however, I am not sure I could resist eating the candy before decorating the house 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Miriam! I just wish we had photos of some of those more elaborate gingerbread houses that my Mom has built over the years. I’m sure we do somewhere…but they’re probably stashed away in her home in Nashville. You should totally make a gingerbread house this year! I just saw an article about a gingerbread house replica of Waddesdon Manor that took over 500 hours to make. This one didn’t take near that long…but I did have fun making it! 🙂

    1. Well, my mom isn’t Persian, Arman…so I don’t know how that would work? 🙂 I say you and Niki combine forces and build an epic gingerbread house this year…your mum will be so proud of you guys!!

  11. Are you sure your mom doesn’t have a secret army of clones? That’s a lot of work!

    I’ve never seen graham cracker houses before. They’re cute! And what a ready and ample supply of building material they afford.

    1. Dude, you’re telling me! She’d always get started before Thanksgiving on those gingerbread houses. It was crazy! And her army of clones was really just me and my sister…although I think we ate more than our salary in candy, so I’m not sure that worked out well. Haha!

      You should totally take a stab at a graham cracker house this year. Maybe build the Chicago skyline? 🙂

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