Thursday, December 5, 2013 / ... comments / Christmas , Holiday , kids parties , Winter
How to Make a Gingerbread House + Throw a Decorating Party
The holiday spirit hit me in a major way last weekend. You too? Suddenly the fall decorations had to go, we had to get a Christmas tree (okay 2 Christmas trees if you want to get technical), we made a trip out of town to go ice skating, and I got the crazy idea to turn our house into a gingerbread house factory.
The girls and I decided it would be really fun to invite some friends over for an afternoon of gingerbread house decorating. Since our crowd of 2 to 6-year-olds would have a hard time assembling the miniature cottages I put them together two days beforehand. I'm going to be honest, only a slightly crazy person would bake eight gingerbread houses. I had a lot of fun in the process, but it was a lot of work. I could have bought pre-made gingerbread house kits for $10-$20 each instead of making them for around $3 each. But along with wasting a lot of money, we would have missed out on the house smelling amazing all Sunday long and nibbling on gingerbread scraps.
These turned out so much cuter than the pre-made, plastic wrapped, inedible kind... don't you think? Each had their own quirky personality. None were "perfect" and I loved all of their unique lumps and bumps.
I also loved - ahem- Our Elf on the Shelf also loved eating a chimney off after the kids went to bed.
Perhaps the smartest idea I had was to use a long piece of butcher paper as the tablecloth. The kids (and moms too!) made an incredible wonderful mess and all I had to do at the end was wrap it all up and toss it in the recycle bin. *Please note the candies pictured are serious choking hazards for kids under 4. The moms were sitting with these kids the whole time to make sure none went in their mouths. I do not recommend using these types of candies around toddlers.
You can of course make your own homemade gingerbread cookie dough. Because I needed to speed up this whole process I used Trader Joe's mix, which was fantastic. 1 box makes about 1 gingerbread house using the template I used.
Keep reading for the simple instructions!
I'm going to direct you to Sweetopia for the gingerbread and royal icing recipes as well as the template. Her royal icing recipe was perfect for cementing pieces of the houses together. It dried quickly and dried very hard. Add water to thin if necessary.To adjust the size of the houses, simply print at a higher or lower percentage.
- 1 batch prepared homemade or or store bought gingerbread cookie dough
- 1 batch Royal icing (you can find meringue powder at craft stores and some grocery stores)
- piping bags and round tips
- assorted candies
- 8" cardboard cake circles for the base (optional)
- fresh rosemary sprigs for little trees (optional)
- Roll cookie dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Place gingerbread house template pieces over the dough and cut out using a paring knife. Chilling the dough before cutting and again before moving with a spatula will help the dough keep it's shape.
- Transfer chilled and cut dough pieces to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake according to recipe instructions. Cool completely.
- Make royal icing and transfer to a piping bag.
- Use the royal icing to glue the front of the house to your base. Use a can of beans to prop the front piece up while it dries.
- Pipe icing on three edges of one side piece and stick to the front piece and base. Do the same with the other side piece. Pipe icing on the bottom edge of the back of the house. Stick the back piece to the base and sides. Allow to dry and then "glue" the roof, chimney, and door on with the icing. Let harden and decorate!
To make your work easier, here are a couple of things you may want (affiliate):