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Family Matters: Easy Gingerbread Houses for Stressed-Out Moms

Friday, December 07, 2012

 

It may seem like a confectioner's dream only available to the craftiest mothers with the most time, but a gingerbread house can be easy, fun, and painless. Not to mention delicious.

Creating a gingerbread village has become an annual tradition in my family. Even though I love to make the houses for it with my kids, I am a better crafter than a baker. And since I have not mastered the art of creating an edible gingerbread house, I have hacked together gingerbread houses that look pretty good in the end and are fun for the kids to assemble.

I use a combination of ready-made gingerbread kits, graham crackers, old Halloween candy, and a low-temp glue gun to construct our village. Add some lights, trees, figurines, and cotton batting, and you have a miniature winter wonderland. If you want a pre-assembled house or to bake yours from scratch, check the list of helpful resources below.

 

I love my glue gun. And I discovered using it was a quick and easy way to assemble graham cracker and gingerbread frames into houses a few years back when the frosting I made did not hold our house together. Even though I tried propping house parts up with soup cans and chopsticks, the roof still collapsed, as did my toddlers when they had a meltdown because they couldn’t stick the candy onto the house. When I discovered that the glue gun could assemble four graham cracker houses in under a minute, I was hooked on this non-edible assembly method.

Of course I recommend against using the glue gun approach for those folks who can make the icing work as an adhesive or whose kids want to sample the candy or nibble on the gingerbread house. In our house, my boys never seemed interested in the candy (and now that I save extra candy from year to year, it’s really stale and unappealing), and they seem more focused on arranging the houses into a holiday scene complete with little figures and lights.

Decorate your house with

Candy canes, NECCO wafers, gumdrops, chocolate kisses, red licorice, hard candies, candy buttons, peanuts, malted milk balls, nonpareils, M & Ms, inverted ice cream cone trees (iced & decorated), Sky Bars for sleds, marshmallow Santas, and Thin Mints. Attach decorations with icing.

Icing for Gingerbread Houses


1 lb. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar


3 egg whites, at room temperature

Using an electric mixer, beat ingredients on low speed until well blended, then beat on high speed until light and fluffy.

To complete our winter wonderland, I cut a city silhouette out of foam board to hide the Christmas lights. Then we add porcelain figurines, artificial trees, a mirror for a skating rink, and cotton batting for snow.

There are many options for having your own gingerbread house. For pre-assembled, ready-to-display houses, choose a modern house from Red Envelope or a traditional home from Stonewall Kitchen. Decorate a pre-baked gingerbread house kit from Wilton available at Michael’s Craft Stores and Linens and Things. Making a graham cracker house is inexpensive and especially easy for kids to do. And if you're feeling ambitious, Necco and Martha Stewart have recipes on how to make a house from scratch.

 

Anisa Raoof is the publisher and founder of Kidoinfo, the parents' guide for Rhode Island and beyond.

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