We celebrate Christmas with decorated trees, wrapped presents, and the tasty traditions of gingerbread houses drizzled with frosting and speckled with candy of every color, size, and flavor. Gingerbread, a confection created by combining ginger with honey, treacle, or molasses, became popular in the 16th century in Germany, but it was with the story Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm that gingerbread houses gained their momentum. When Hansel and Gretel stumbled upon a candied house in the woods, they unknowingly created a holiday tradition.
Gingerbread houses can be humble and basic, or elaborate with fancy frosting fringe and fillings, and while their beauty may last the entire season, their freshness is only good for 3-4 weeks in the pantry or up to 8 months in the freezer. Some things are simply too good to eat! When you want to preserve your gingerbread house at the expense of its edibility, here are some handy tips for gingerbread preservation:
These candy cottages have become so popular, there are annual contests and world records celebrating the candied creations. In fact, the current world record for largest gingerbread house is 40,000 cubic feet and was erected in Texas, where everything is done big, at Traditions Golf Course. This elaborate edible record-breaking delicacy was created for a good cause.
The phrase “go big or go home” isn’t applicable to the wonderful world of candy houses. These tiny bite-sized pieces of real estate are perfect for decorating a hot holiday beverage with exquisite embellishments. Keep scrolling for even more creative ideas on how to make a gingerbread house.
When one fairy tale meets another, a Gingerbread Shoe is born. The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe must have bumped into the Brothers Grimm for this yummy spin on a tale well told. But at least she’d have a clear idea of what to do for a feast for all her children that year. They could literally eat her out of house and home!
Another treasured treat where two stories would meet is in this gingerbread creation celebrating Noah’s Ark. Fortunately, this ship can sail for more than 40 days and 40 nights in a freezer to be kept fresh.
Storybook tales seem to be a running theme in gingerbread houses as this one shows the story of the Night Before Christmas, All through the house was candied decor.
Seeing the creative candied cottages is great eye-candy, but how can you get started on making your delicious delicacy? With a floorplan, of course! Some edible-house designers suggest it will take you more than one afternoon. Plan your holiday-house-making fun over a couple of days. Here are some ideas for laying the foundations for your candied houses:
Once your floor plan designs are etched, you need a recipe to tickle the taste buds, solid enough to sustain the house of your dreams. Try this recipe on for size:
What’s the point in having your cake if you can’t have your icing too? The frosting is the glue that holds these homes together. It’s more than frilly flavor on the fringes of your house. Here’s a gingerbread frosting recipe to get you started:
There’s no need to go-it-alone. What better occasion could there be for throwing a house party? Call the kids, invite the neighbors, it’s fun with friends. Make a Christmas party designed around creating your own gingerbread houses. How’s that for a master-planned community?
When you’ve finished constructing your confection cottage at your gingerbread house party for creative Christmas ideas, why not enter your candied castle into a gingerbread house contest? There are several contests to choose from, including this one from King Arthur Flour.
Go big with a multi-level, two-story home. Go small with a teensy-weensy gingerbread cottage. Get fancy with an elaborately decorated gingerbread mansion. Weave a story into the house you create. Keep it simple with bread and icing, or get creative with candies of varied sizes, textures, and flavors.
There’s no right or wrong way to make a gingerbread house. You can eat it, or you can preserve it. You can make it alone, or have a gingerbread house party. You can display it with your holiday decor, or enter it into a contest. But the important thing about your experience with creating a gingerbread house is that you are establishing your own household holiday traditions and making memories that will last for years to come.
From our gingerbread house to yours, happy holidays!