How to Build a Holiday Gingerbread House (with Video)

Who doesn’t like a craft you can eat? Building gingerbread houses is the winter version of pumpkin carving. It’s a fun social activity to do as a group, and it’s perfect for all ages. You don’t even need a knife, making it very kid-friendly! (Warning: Side effects may include stickiness!)

This fun holiday tradition originated in Germany. It became popular when the Brothers Grimm wrote “Hansel and Gretel,” the story of two children who find a house made of candy in the forest.

Gingerbread has been a rich part of American history. Introduced to the New World by the first English colonists, gingerbread cookies were often used to try and win votes in colonial political elections.

Gingerbread house decorating isn’t always the cleanest activity, and it can get frustrating when you remember that you aren’t as creative as you thought you were. Ole Miss junior Danny Howell studied at the Mississippi School of the Arts, and even she found it difficult to get the exact design she was going for.

“The biggest thing is waiting for the icing to dry,” Howell said. “It takes a while, and you have to hold the whole thing together or it will fall apart and ruin everything. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be with children.”

So if you want to use gingerbread houses as an activity for the kiddos, let them decorate the cookies flat on a table. After their artwork dries, you can assemble the houses for them. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the ingredients that come with the kit. After Halloween, it’s a great time to pick up cheap leftover candy to build the gingerbread houses of your dreams!

Most people who make gingerbread houses these days buy kits that come with the pre-made gingerbread cookie walls and roof, as well as the supplies needed to assemble and decorate the house. Wal-Mart has these kits for a little less than $8 each, or you can get a gingerbread village with five smaller houses for the same price. Wal-Mart also offers gingerbread trains.

The video below shows Danny Howell and fellow Ole Miss student Emily Roblee working with the kits and offers some ideas on getting creative with your gingerbread.

Carly Owen is a journalism major at the University of Mississippi.