11 tips to help you decorate your next gingerbread house

Decorating a gingerbread house isn’t as easy as it looks! There are a lot of steps you need to take before you even pull out the icing. And depending on how creative you want to be, things could get a little complicated. But don’t worry, we’re here to help! Before you start your next delicious adventure, check out these tips for decorating a gingerbread house:

1. Make a plan

The best gingerbread houses are well planned. We definitely recommend you take the time to create a plan to make sure your house can be the best it can be. No detail is too small, so really think about what you’d like to do and fine-tune your plan from the start. Think about the type of gingerbread house you want, the color scheme, or if you want it all to be edible. There’s no wrong answer, but having a plan in hand will help you stay focused and motivated throughout this process.

2. Mix it up and be creative

I remember the first gingerbread house I decorated as a child. Instead of being creative, I just tried to make sure every thing I did was as close to the pictures as possible…almost like putting together puzzle pieces. I spent so much time focused on ‘the puzzle’ that I didn’t take the time to make it my own. Take a few moments to google some gingerbread house inspiration a Don’t get me wrong, traditional gingerbread houses are great, but don’t be afraid to mix it up and think outside of the box!

3. Budget enough time

Speaking of time, most of us don’t make gingerbread houses for a living. With that being said, these things can take some time and a considerable amount of effort! When you are making your game plan, budget some extra time for all the surprises this fun activity has in store. And don’t forget to keep in mind the drying time for the icing.

4. Have all of your materials ready

I honestly think this is the most important tip when starting your project. No one wants to stop halfway through to grab more candy canes from the store or to run through the pantry with icing-covered hands. I like to place all of my materials in close proximity before I open or begin anything. And speaking of materials, have fun with them. If you are decorating a gingerbread house that came in a box, that’s great! But remember, you’re not limited to the supplies they give you. Grab some shredded coconut for snow, frosted mini wheats for shingles, pretzel rods to make it a log cabin, or chocolate graham crackers for a walkway. The possibilities are endless!

5. Have a strong foundation

Okay, I lied – this is by far the most important tip! Starting with a good foundation will give you such a huge advantage. You are going to spend a lot of time decorating your perfect gingerbread house and you don’t need the walls to constantly shift under pressure. You’ll want to find a cardboard base or a foam board and cut it into the dimensions that you want. Then you’ll use this base to build your house on. Pipe some icing on your base to secure the house on.

6. Ice the inside of the house first

Most people focus on the outside icing because of the curb appeal, but making sure you take the time to get the house totally built before you start to decorate will help keep everything in place. When you’re putting your house together, use lots of icing. No one will see the inside of the house, so don’t be afraid to get messy. Start with the outside walls (and don’t forget to secure the house to the base!) and then attach the roof last.

7. Let the icing dry 

Icing can take a little time to dry but who has time for that? You do! (Because you followed tip #2) Make sure you let the icing completely dry before you start decorating. Your gingerbread house will be much more sturdy, and less likely to fall apart when you start decorating. The icing will need to set for a few hours.

8. Be patient

If you are going for a home run every time then this tip is for you. Making a great gingerbread house takes time and practice. You will learn a lot with each attempt and have some fun while doing it. Be patient with the process and enjoy it for what it is.

9. Mistakes make it fun

Something that I have taught myself is to be okay with mistakes. Even though every detail has been planned out, it is okay if you go off the beaten path. One year my brother broke the roof of his house by accident. Instead of scrapping the plan, he made it look like our dad cut a tree down and a branch fell on the house. This is a great example of how something catastrophic can turn out just fine. He had the best house that year because of the story behind it!

10. Find a safe spot for your finished product

I can’t imagine anything worse than spending hours decorating a gingerbread house then having it destroyed because it wasn’t in a safe spot. If you’re a pet owner, make sure you display it somewhere your furry friends can’t grab it. Also, make sure you’re not putting it somewhere too warm. If your house gets too close to the fireplace then the icing may start to melt.

11. Take pictures

I love looking back on the old pictures of all the gingerbread houses my family has made throughout the years. Be sure to take pictures throughout your process and share them with friends and family (and us!) They will remind of the learning opportunities you experienced and the fun that you had making your gingerbread house.

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Here are 8 easy, and creative, ways to use leftover candy canes