DIY Out-of-the-Box Gingerbread
A house fit for a (very tiny!) Barbie. A Holiday tradition goes PINK!
A holiday tradition does not have to get old and boring as we do! This Christmas Eve my lovely sister and I decided that our boxed up Gingerbread house kit was no match for our creativity. The time we saved not baking the gingerbread we spent scavenging for pink (and purple) decor to adorn our perfectly iced house. Below you will find tips/ideas for turning a run-of-the-mill gingerbread kit in a box into a creation no one will doubt is all your own!
1. Don’t follow the directions on the box. Our gingerbread kit came with a sturdy plastic base, white icing and pre-baked gingerbread. It also came with loads of colorful candy and a huge folded page of instructions. We tossed the latter two things – a gingerbread house is not a DVD player, you don’t need instructions! Trust yourself!
2. Pick a theme. Use food coloring to make it happen. Just four little drops and our white store bought icing was *POOF* Pink! Another idea I toyed with (and may use next year) is adding just a drop of blue to the plain white to create a light sky blue that can be dusted with edible (more on the edibility of our house later!) sparkles. It’s so pretty in my mind and I’m sure in reality it could look just as ice princess-y with the right candy additions (snow caps?)!
3. Determine your audience. Do you have kids that are eager to break off the chimney and eat it? If so, you’re going to want to stick to edible “glue” (depending on how much you like your kids, I guess!). However, this year we decided fairly early into the process of making that we were not going to eat the unwrapped candies or the store bought gingerbread a) after three hours of work on this house to make it magically beautiful and b) because we have oodles of homemade gingerbread and even better tasting (read: not sitting on the counter for three weeks exposed to air) wrapped candy. With this decision, we decided to skimp on the pink icing as a glue for the candies – especially on the roof – and we broke out the hot glue gun (my favorite glue of all time!). Ignoring the glue strings that we had to (and still have to!) pick off, the gluing process was faster and much less messy and we ended up with more frosting to be dedicated to making snow drifts on the ground. WIN WIN
4. Think outside the gumballs. Sure, we used a few (the pink dot on the hear-shaped front door, for instance) but the real interest of this house lies in the reindeer (animal cracker horses – we think – can anyone ever really tell what animal they are eating?), the mini white chocolate Hershey kisses, the heart-shaped sugar cookies and the pink candy canes. None of these things came in the box (back to point 1) but they were things we had laying around the house due to the general overload of sweets around during the holidays! Inspiration is everywhere (this is true outside of gingerbread house making, too!) so open your eyes to the beauty of the woods like Little Red Riding Hood and gather those flowers for your grandma (er, I mean, house.).
5. Have fun! Throughout the many years we’ve been making gingerbread houses I’ve seen tears flow just as easily as laughter and good conversation. Don’t worry if the roof collapses or the icing runs out or the cookies brake or if you step away from your “masterpiece” to discover that you’ve actually created the world ugliest thing. Not everyone can be a budding architect – proof is in the pudding for my younger brother who desired to make his own dry house (where dry = no icing/lots of hot glue) this year (see photograph above!) 😉
*One more tip: Our icing hardened a bit too quickly once we took it out of the bag that you’re ideally supposed to keep it in (going back to point one: who needs to follow directions, right?!). Putting it in the microwave to warm it up for the food coloring worked really well as did keeping a cup of water handy to wet our fingers (so the icing didn’t stick to them) and to keep the consistency of the icing more like a putty and less like a rock solid mass!