Gingerbread Houses~patterns and a tutorial

You can use the recipe posted yesterday for Gingerbread Cookies to make any type of gingerbread house. When we were younger we have happy memories of making gingerbread houses at Christmas time (I remember we did it a few times when the majority of us were in our teens).  Many of us continue this same tradition with our own families.  They can be a lot of work, but they are such a fun family activity.

Here is a pattern and tutorial my sister Melinda created for a Small Gingerbread House. [Download the Small Gingerbread House Pattern and Instructions PDF File]  The pattern makes a small gingerbread house, about 3 1/2 inches tall and about 4 inches wide. This is a great size for children, since they can assemble and decorate it mostly independently. It also makes a cute village, since you can get several houses from one recipe of Gingerbread Cookies.

Melinda also made a pattern and tutorial for a Large Gingerbread House. [Download the Large Gingerbread House Pattern and Instructions PDF file]. The pattern makes a big gingerbread house, about 5 1/2 inches tall and 7 1/2 inches long. That's more-or-less the size of a cake mix box tipped over on its side. You might want this pattern for a joint family project. It certainly is big enough! You will probably only get one house from one batch of Gingerbread Cookies, but you will have leftover dough to make Christmas trees or little mini cookie decorations for the house. Remember to bake your gingerbread cookies a little longer than the recipe specifies if you use this pattern, or your cookies will be raw in the middle.

Melinda's tutorial and patterns have many very helpful tips – they're great!

It is a very, very busy day when I try to make them all in one day.  This project works much better if you spread the work out over at least a couple of days.  These are your steps:
  • Gather your supplies, buy candies, etc.
  • Make the dough.  (One batch of the dough will make about 4 smaller houses.)
  • Chill the dough.
  • Roll out and bake the house pieces.
  • (You can freeze these at this point or cover and store for the next day.)
  • Assemble the houses with Royal Icing or a very thick frosting--let them set for several minutes to allow the frosting to harden.
  • Decorate the houses with regular frosting (green looks festive, white looks like snow) and candies.  It's helpful to have a sturdy plate or cardboard round to put each house on.
It's fun to see what the kids come up with each year.  Some favorite candies to use are gumdrops, tootsie rolls (for logs), mini M&Ms (for lights on the houses), Christmas colored candies, licorice, small cinnamon candies, or just anything you have on hand. Stick pretzels make cute fences and doors.  Mini shredded wheat cereal makes a great snow dusted thatched roof.
In 2010, my family made a train instead of houses.
Keep the houses for a holiday decoration or eat them and enjoy!

I love gingerbread houses with this recipe because the gingerbread is actually good to eat.  I don't know how to describe it, but it reminds me of a gingerbread version of a sugar cookie--it's not inedible stuff destined to be thrown away (especially if you use frosting--then the cookies soften).  They'll stay fresh for several days.

You can also use the other gingerbread cookie recipe from our collection.  It comes from the historic Scovill Bakery in Nauvoo, Illinois.  

Edited to add: Here is an additional post with more tips, another pattern option, ideas for cutting out the pieces, and even a graham cracker variation!

Merry Christmas!

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