EZ Tips for Making Great Gingerbread Houses

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EZ Tips for Making Great Gingerbread Houses
Dimitri Vervitsiotis/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Gingerbread houses offer a tasty treat and festive decor for holiday celebrations. The task of putting together a festive design doesn’t have to be messy and stressful. Instead, involve the entire family in this project to add some holiday cheer to your decor. Two chefs offer advice to successfully make this symbol of the holidays part of your family's tradition.

Vanilla Wafer Wonderland
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Vanilla Wafer Wonderland

Assembling and decorating gingerbread houses takes the three Ps -- planning, preparedness and patience, says chef Jennifer Booker. Take those holiday treats to the extreme by sprucing up that plain old gingerbread house with a vanilla wafer roof. Use royal icing for icicles and occupy the home with gingerbread cookie-shaped people to add a personal touch.

Snowfall at Home
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Snowfall at Home

Sprinkle some sparkle into your gingerbread house with a little sugar and spice. Use M&M candies in a checkerboard pattern to add extra detailing to the roof while topping off the chimney with a sugary, snow-covered overlay. Create lined ridges on the roof with white icing and you’ll have a snow-covered winter wonderland.

Rustic Homestead
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Rustic Homestead

Show your kids that cereal is not just for breakfast. Shredded wheat cereal gives your gingerbread roof a rustic look. Line the chimney with icing, dried fruit and chocolate chips to add to the cozy feel of this extravagant gingerbread house. Pick your design at least a month before you plan on building, advised Booker. “This gives you time to look through the hundreds of pictures of beautifully decorated gingerbread houses before settling on yours.”

Detailed Decor
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Detailed Decor

With pretzel rods stacked up as a wood pile, ice cream cone trees covered with shredded coconut dyed green and peppermint stick columns used to support the front roof, attention to detail is the focus of this elaborate gingerbread house. “A marshmallow snowman and a dusting of powdered sugar make this gingerbread house a virtual winter wonderland,” Booker said.

Gingerbread House Love
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Gingerbread House Love

Keep it simple and show some love with a heart-themed gingerbread house. “Often times, moms get intimidated by elaborate gingerbread recipes and don’t attempt to make them because they seem so complicated,” said Laura Fuentes, CEO of MOMables.com. Get the kids involved by shaping gingerbread squares perfect for impromptu icing drawings by the little ones. With an icing bag, draw windows and accent with red heart candies or red jelly beans.

Candy-Coated Festivities
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Candy-Coated Festivities

Create a candy-coated house for gingerbread cutouts with simple shapes that are easy for the entire family to handle and organize. Draw horizontal lines with white icing and top the roof with a rainbow of candies. “I love to use icing and colorful candy for assembly and decorating,” said Fuentes. “Making it simple allows kids to enjoy creating their own masterpiece, and at the same time, a fun holiday memory".

Gingerbread Neighborhood
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Gingerbread Neighborhood

Expand your gingerbread house and your family’s creativity with a village layout, complete with a candy cane flagpole, candy cane stick roof and a gingerbread cookie sidewalk. An elaborate village doesn’t have to break the bank, either. “Your local dollar store has a bonanza of goodies that you can use to decorate your gingerbread house,” said Booker.

Quaint Cottage
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Quaint Cottage

Impress your holiday guests and enhance your table decor with a gingerbread cottage. Line the roof with powdered sugar and accentuate the white-iced structure with wintergreen accents above the door and windows. Offset the white structure with red and green icing and top with a peppermint chimney. A detailed house may require more preparation, Booker said. “Use this time to select a recipe, cut out your template and buy your ingredients.”

Gingerbread Playground
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Gingerbread Playground

Put some holiday spirit into your next group gathering by creating a gingerbread house that includes a neighborhood of gingerbread cookie cutouts. Allow the kids to decorate a cutout gingerbread family. A unique roof-topper draws out the sweet side of the season with sour candies layered in reds and greens.

Marshmallow Delight
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Marshmallow Delight

“The most important thing to remember when decorating a gingerbread house is that it is supposed to be fun,” Booker said. Start the festivities with a sweet-tasting marshmallow home. Line marshmallows around the structure of the house, decorate with white icing and top the roof with decorated sugar cookies. Add a landmark to the gingerbread village by decorating a large waffle cone.

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