Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gingerbread Houses 101

Each year my mother, my boys and I participate in a gingerbread decorating party.  The supplies are pretty basic so I hit the stores in advance and bring my own.  Before I set out, I try to come up with a plan first so shopping for my house is quick and effortless.  I always seem to imagine the type of house that you would find in the Swiss Alps, the Arctic, or someplace like Vermont.  I am pretty imaginative, so it's easy to come up with a plan in my head.  For others, seeking inspiration somewhere else is their only option, or so they have convinced themselves.  My suggestion for those who need some inspiring is to visit a website such as Pinterest or simply google, "photos of gingerbread houses."  There are also books out there on just about everything, including gingerbread houses or holiday baking books.  Another idea is to sketch out your house on paper first.  Many people get creative once there is a pen in hand and paper in front of them.  It's nice to have because you can take it with you to the store to find just the right elements and have it right at the table when you begin construction of your winter home.
Things I see in stores throughout the year inspire me. Another thing I like to have in advance is a base for my house.  I usually buy a mirror because it reminds me of ice.  I have designed ponds on it and placed skaters in the rink.  Don't forget that a house needs landscaping.
Both craft stores and dollar stores sell faux trees, figurines, architectural objects, such as lamp posts, miniature presents, ornaments and much more.  You really can get carried away, especially if you are creative.
Below is a list of items you may want to consider purchasing, prior to building your gingerbread house.  My best advice when getting started, don't just make it a house, make it a home.

For roof shingles:

-chocolate bar pieces
-non perils
-cereal squares
-pretzel rods
-candy sticks
-Necco Wafers
-Thin Mints
-Tootsie Rolls
-gum drops

For the walls:

-sugar cubes
-Tootsie Rolls

For the windows:

-square pretzels
-small mirrors
-melted lifesavers
-mosaic tiles

For the doors:

-Peanut brittle
-chocolate bark
-chocolate bar pieces

For the chimney:

-Black licorice
-peppermint sticks cut in a quarter
-stacked gum drops
Decorative ideas:

-wreath (made out of gummy candy circles, life savers or faux miniature craft wreaths).  Place them on your windows and doors

-snowy miniature craft trees

-Gummy Christmas trees (line them up along the walls of the house)

(Pretzel squares, chocolate bar pieces), anything rectangular

(stack marshmallows in 3 sizes, use white gum balls or coconut rolled truffles)

Walking path:

-any flat candy


-anything long
(Such as pretzels, tootsie rolls, peppermint sticks etc.)


-anything you can stack
(Such as sugar cubes)

And last but not least, I like to prop up my gingerbread houses on cake stands so they are elevated, and can be viewed at different heights.  They make great centerpieces too!

Where to shop:

-candy shop
-grocery store
-craft stores
-super stores
-hobby shop

Good Luck! I hope I have inspired you to get creative.  Please share your thoughts and let me know how you made out.  Send me pictures and I will share it on my blog!

Jamie Gottschall
The NYClifestylist

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