My Name Is Snickerdoodle: Stress Free Tips For Making A Christmas Gingerbread House

12.10.2014

Stress Free Tips For Making A Christmas Gingerbread House

Making your own gingerbread house at Christmas time doesn't have to be stressful!  Here are few helpful tips.  |  My Name Is Snickerdoodle
Not everyone makes a gingerbread house at Christmas time.  I remember one year as a kid we made a graham cracker train at a church activity, but that was as close as I got to a 'gingerbread' anything.  My husband's family, however, grew up making them every year.  Like legit homemade gingerbread houses.  When his mom and dad lived in Germany before he was born, the recipe was given to her by an old German lady who had befriended her.

When I married my husband, I took on the tradition of making them with the help of my MIL.  It's one thing I really look forward to every year.  

Now days kits are available complete with frosting and candy.  Whether you make your own from scratch, swiftly stash a kit into your grocery cart or are thinking about starting this new tradition and are little intimidated, I've got some helpful tips that will hopefully make it a little less stressful.    
Christmas gingerbread house candy  |  My Name Is Snickerdoodle
Start gathering your candy through out the year.  
Hit those after Christmas sales and stock up!  We keep our candy in the red, green and white spectrum so Valentine's is another great holiday that I keep my eye out for all those fun red candies.  If you like any and all candies, then Easter is perfect for you too.  Store everything in airtight containers.  And don't make the mistake I made one year and store it with your Christmas stuff!  I always keep it in my pantry so I know it won't get melted or eaten by mice or bugs.  
Prep most of it before hand.
  • Bake your gingerbread a few days before and have it ready.  Homemade or a kit, it helps to assemble the house a few hours before and let it 'set up' before decorating it.  You could even do this days before, too.  
  • Pour your candies into bowls so they are visible and easy to grab.  
  • Have a pair of scissors on hand to cut open any wrappings or even use them to cut the candy if needed.  
  • Along with the Christmas sales, I always try to pick up a few inexpensive platters.  In the past, I've covered cardboard with parchment so make sure that's ready to go.
Set some guidelines.
Now, I know this goes against the artsy and creative side of the whole thing, but when it comes to little ones, they kinda need it.
  • Let them know how much candy they can eat before hand.  Who wouldn't be able to resist bowls full of candies?  Remind them most of the candy is for the houses.
  • Have a delegated icing person.  I only fill one bag of icing and it minimizes the mess and fighting.  They know I will put icing wherever they want me too and and it's their job to place the candies.  If you have older kids by all means have more icing bags and let them all have their own.   
Make sure your icing is the right consistency. 
Too thin and your candies will drip right off.  To thick and you'll end up with blob and a sore hand trying to get it to come out of the icing bag! 

Try decortating the sides of your Christmas gingerbread house before assembling it.  |  My Name Is Snickerdoodle
Decorate your walls before you assemble.  
If you are going the fancier route, try decorating the walls before you assemble your house.  If you do this, let them 'dry' a few hours before you put it together.  I find it easier to get a little more detail this way. 
Christmas gingerbread house with an ombre candy roof.  Other great tips, too!  |  My Name Is Snickerdoodle
Do one yourself. 
Let's face it.  I have a controlling personality.  Only child and all.  If you are the same, make your own gingerbread when the kids aren't around.  This sounds so anti Christmas but, it's good to express your own creativity, too.  It's okay to be you for a while!    
Super adorable Christmas Gingerbread house.  Some fun stress free tips, too!  |  My Name Is Snickerdoodle
Here are some of the candies I've used and and love.
Gobstoppers
Mini Candy Canes
Peppermint Balls
Tootsie Rolls (think wooden logs)
Regular and Mini M&M's
Nerds
Gumdrops
Colored Sprinkles
Sugared Sprinkles (for edible snow!)
Skittles
Red Hots
Pull Apart Licorice
Super adorable Christmas Gingerbread house.  Some fun stress free tips, too!  |  My Name Is Snickerdoodle
Whatever you do, just enjoy yourself!  I'm no gingerbread professional, but I sure do love doing this with my boys and they love it, too.  I hope we are making great Christmas memories! 
Super adorable Christmas Gingerbread house.  Some fun stress free tips, too!  |  My Name Is Snickerdoodle

Here are some of the houses I've made in the years past.
1. {2008} Probably my favorite gingerbread house ever!  I love the "fluffiness" of the frosting!  
2. {2009} Grandma made this one that year and Liam couldn't keep his hands off of it.  
3. {2010} Liam was a great help with this one.  I remember holding my new born baby in my lap and by the end he was covered in frosting and candy.  
4. {2011} This was the year I went all out and made 7 houses (5 pictured) and gave them away to friends.  It was kind of stressful (I tend to do that to myself), but had so much fun!  Looking back, I was 6 month pregnant and was in that nesting crazy phase! 

In 2012 I didn't make a house.  I just wasn't into it. 

2013 the boys and I made a house, but I didn't get a single picture of it!  

Another fun Christmas activity you can do with your little ones is 
This post is linked up - The Creative Exchange, Weekend Re-Treat, Pure Blog Love, Friday Finds, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Whimsy Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday

7 comments:

  1. Amy, these are amazing. I love all the years. And I would have never thought to decorate the walls before hand. Genius! What's your favorite icing recipe?

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    1. I use my MIL's recipe.
      3 egg whites
      1/2 tsp cream of tartar
      4-5 cups powdered sugar
      Beat on high until semi-stiff and glossy. About 5-7 minutes.

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  2. Thank you SO much for posting these tips. I think gingerbread houses are so cute but I have always been too scared to make my own because I know how silly they can be with staying up. This helps a lot and I will now give it a try :) If you had a spare moment, I would be delighted if you'd drop this (and anything else you'd like to share) by at the #PureBlogLove DIY and recipe link party! You can find me here: http://picnicnz.blogspot.co.nz/

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  3. First of all, that house is spectacular! Second, I need these stress free tips, because the thought of making these totally stresses me out! I think because I am not organized ahead of time, and I know it will be a mess. I might tackle this, though, because I know my kids will love it!

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    Replies
    1. Kristen, thank you! Next year, let's do them together! I'll bring everything you need.

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  4. Cute houses and good tips! (I agree with you - 2008 was a great frosting year!) My secret is that I hot glue the walls of the pre-made kits together, then let the kids go at it. It's a mess but it's fun!

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  5. Thank you for joining us on #PureBlogLove Link party for recipes and DIY crafts! I love reading about your adventures in cooking and look forward to seeing you again this week at 8 pm EST Thursday -Sunday night midnight to celebrate yet another fun week !
    Besos
    Heidy

    ReplyDelete