Everybody loves the idea of making a gingerbread house around the holidays, but that's about as far as most of us get.
Maybe we're intimidated by the idea of creating a gingerbread house ("I'm not creative!") or we think we're too busy ("I don't have the time!"), or we don't exactly know where to begin ("I've never made a gingerbread house before!").
But there's good news: Making a gingerbread house doesn't have to be complicated, time-consuming, or challenging. Here are five easy ways to bring the joy of gingerbread houses into your holiday routine this season.
Choose a kit
If you're looking for a super-simple way to make a gingerbread house, look no further than a kit that includes pre-baked gingerbread pieces. Simply assemble the houses and decorate as you wish. If you're planning to decorate the gingerbread houses as an activity with the little ones in your life, a kit with pre-baked gingerbread eliminates a lot of the extra effort and lets you concentrate on assembling and decorating—the part kids usually like best anyway.
Go for the mold
Maybe you'd prefer to bake your own gingerbread, but are a little intimidated by the idea of using templates to construct your house. Instead, why not use a gingerbread house mold or pan? These easy-to-use tools can easily elevate your gingerbread house and transform it from homespun to showstopper. Silicone molds work nicely for use with gingerbread or chocolate (now there's an idea—a gingerbread-type house made of chocolate), and the flexibility of the mold adds another element of ease. Or try a Bundt pan in the shape of a gingerbread house—pour in your batter and pop out your gingerbread house. Then decorate to your holiday heart's content!
Simplify your plan
Consider this: You can achieve the effect of a gingerbread house even without the ... um ... gingerbread. But how? Put graham crackers to work as the structural components of your house and then create the classic feel of a gingerbread house by using plenty of royal icing and an assortment of colorful decorations. Children may find it easier to work with the stability of graham crackers, and busy parents love the ease. The graham crackers are also already squared off with straight edges, making construction prep a breeze.
Choose alternate materials
Graham cracker houses and chocolate houses are great, but if you're looking for another “no-bake" option, why not construct a sugar cube house? Set out a couple boxes of sugar cubes and let everyone have fun with “brick" building. The houses may actually take longer to build, but the initial set-up doesn't get any easier than this. (And speaking of sugar: Why not make a sugar cookie house instead of a gingerbread house? You'll achieve a completely different effect in terms of looks and flavor.)
Think outside the gingerbread house
Who says your gingerbread house has to be a house? You can enjoy plenty of family fun by baking and decorating gingerbread men instead of gingerbread houses. You'll eliminate all of the construction time for the houses while still keeping the fun of decorating and the delightful scent of baked gingerbread in your kitchen.
Bonus: Decorating Tips
●Royal icing usually gets drafted as the edible adhesive that holds a gingerbread house together, but it's not exactly designed to be an effective “glue," partly because of the drying time required. Does this mean we should stop and give up? Not at all, but it does mean that you shouldn't rush a gingerbread house project. Plan on letting the fun spread out over a couple of days, as this will give the royal icing plenty of time to dry in between construction phases and decorating.
●Also, you may find it easier to decorate the pieces—walls, roof, etc…—before assembling them into the finished house. This will allow you to more easily paint and pipe delicate details while the house components are still flat and you can freely pick them up and move them around.
●Remember, regardless of the “building" materials that your house utilizes, decorating doesn't necessarily have to be complex and elaborate. You can make things simpler by limiting the color palette to just a few—or even one—hue. Or focus on one type of candy in assorted colors rather than multiple types. You might not create the elaborate, picture-book gingerbread house of your dreams, but an achievable real-life gingerbread house is better than an imaginary elaborate one any day.