- Buy a kit! I like to buy a kit during the after-Christmas clearance at a craft store. You can often find them 75% off, or even more. I think I got my kit for about $1 last year. Then I just kept it in my closet all year. The gingerbread pieces and candies are tightly sealed inside, so there should be no problem (at least I’ve never had a problem).
- Think outside the kit! Do your kids have as much leftover Halloween candy as mine do? Raid it to decorate your house. Smarties make great pebbles for a sidewalk. M&Ms are good for edging the roof or windowsills. Laffy Taffy can be warmed in the microwave for a few seconds and then rolled into long snakes to outline things. I always think the candy that comes with the kit needs to be supplemented.
- Grab a cutting board! I use a cutting board as a base for the house. I just cover it with foil (tape it on the bottom). Then I’m ready with a nice, shiny, icy-looking surface.
- Think like a cooking show! Mix up the icing and put each kind of candy into its own small bowl. Hopefully this will cut back on candy rolling away.
- Use hot glue! Assembling the gingerbread house with the included icing works, but it is time-consuming. You have to put together the walls, and then let it dry for a while (30 minutes, maybe) before putting on the roof. And then wait again! My kids (and I) do NOT have the patience for that. I just slap the gingerbread pieces together with hot glue, and we’re done. Ready to decorate. I usually just cover the hot glue with icing so it looks better. Don’t worry about not being able to eat the house, you’ve just stored the thing for the past year. That baby is STALE. You’re making a decoration, not a snack.
- Give each kid a section! If you have multiple small children, like I do, this tip is pretty much essential. By assigning each child one wall or roof panel, I have avoided lots of arguments. If I’m feeling like I care about how the house turns out, sometimes I assign myself the front of the house.
- Spread the icing yourself! Spreading the icing evenly is usually the hardest part for young kids. So I like to just spread/squeeze the icing on the house, then let the kids have at it with decorating. With the leftover icing, make a snowy yard for your house.
- Join in on the fun! I have found that no matter how messy the kids get with the gingerbread house, it always looks cute and festive when it’s done. So don’t worry about trying to control it, just grab some candies and start sticking. You’re making a memory, so don’t forget to take some pictures of those proud little faces with their creation!
Do your kids like to decorate gingerbread houses? What has worked well for your family?