Day #2: decorating gingerbread houses. The main activity at a gingerbread house decorating party is decorating houses! Here are a few of our tips and tricks to help you out. Gingerbread would of course be ideal for this activity. But if you need a quick and easy solution that will go a long way for a crowd of party goers, then you can’t beat graham crackers.
Cutting the crackers: Cut a pattern for the house peak from a 3 x 5 index card or other sturdy paper. To cut the graham cracker into a peak without breaking it, get a paper towel damp through (but not soaking), wrap it around the graham cracker, and microwave for 15 seconds. This will soften the cracker enough to cut it. Using a serrated knife, cut the cracker into a point following the pattern on the card. Don’t worry, the graham crackers will re-harden.
Base: Mounting your house onto a piece of cardboard makes it easy for guests to transport their creations home and it also adds an extra bit of cuteness. These houses are on a 6″ cardboard cake round (found in the wedding cake supplies aisle) with scrapbooking paper glued to the top. Using spray adhesive, spray the glue on the cardboard cake round, then stick the cardboard to your paper. Trim the paper around the circle. We used the Martha Stewart Christmas scrapbook paper.
Royal Icing: Ingredients– 3 Tablespoons meringue powder, 1 pound powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 cup warm water. With a hand mixer beat all ingredients together until the icing holds a stiff peak, about 5 minutes. Add a tiny bit more water if too firm and more powdered sugar if too runny. Keep icing covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out.
House frames: If you’ve made gingerbread houses before, you know that it can be difficult to keep the house together with only frosting. This quick fix is the most amazing trick brought to our attention by one of our readers. Thank you Addie! Over low heat, melt brown sugar in a sauce pan until it liquifies. This makes the perfect edible glue! *Warning: the melted sugar is very hot, so we advise you do this part ahead of time. This way, your guests can get to work decorating as soon as they arrive and no one will have the bother of their house falling over.
Woodland House: Cinnamon Toast Crunch roof; mini red M&M’s for Christmas lights; mini Kit Kats for the logs; plastic deer; powdered sugar sprinkled on top for the snow; Wreath: We used a mint Lifesaver for the wreath. Break a green circle sprinkle in half. Using frosting as glue, attach sprinkles and a nonpareil for the holly berry.
Traditional House: mini green M&M’s on the roof line; red, green, and white sprinkles for the roof; white nonpareils for lights; Candy Cane Door: The door is made from two mini candy canes. Break the cane part off of one candy cane. Match up the straight part with the other whole mini candy cane. Attach the two ends with frosting and cover the seam with a red hot or mini M&M. Trees: Using an unwrapped round peppermint candy as the base, attach a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cup wrapped in green and a Hershey’s Kiss wrapped in green with frosting.
Cottage: roof covered in frosting and then sprinkled with crushed peppermint; half a peppermint round for chimney; Cadbury chocolate candy for snowballs; Neccos for pathway; sprinkles for lights and window accents; plastic tree.
Houses and photos by Sara Westbrook.