Tips For Decorating A Homemade Gingerbread House

GB House finalWhat is it about the holidays that makes everyone turn into Martha Stewart? Seriously, I love to cook and bake and feel immensely satisfied whenever I paint pumpkins or arrange flowers for my apartment, but  the fact that I’ve actually considered decorating my cubicle at work with homemade snowflake banners a la Buddy the Elf is a little over the top.

Regardless, it was with Christmastime euphoria that I signed up for a gingerbread house decorating party organized by JBF Greens, the James Beard Foundation’s club for foodies under 40.

I went to the event last night and as I sat down at my work station with heaping bowls of Jujubes, M&Ms and peppermints before me, I felt like I was in sweet-tooth heaven. Elated by the thought of building a gingerbread house myself, I forgot about the fact that I had never actually done it before and got to work. The end result wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly cheerful.

Head to the jump for a few tips to to help you decorate a gingerbread house on your own. 

Yes, gingerbread houses are made from edible materials, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they should be eaten. I love homemade foods more than anyone, but I promise you will safe yourself a lot of trouble if you just buy the gingerbread sized, cut, and ready for constructing.
1. Save yourself loads of trouble and buy a gingerbread house kit (like one of these at Amazon). I promise, you will have a lot more fun with this holiday project if you don’t have to stress about cutting the gingerbread into the correct shapes and sizes.
GB House 1
2. Make sure you have all your favorite candy and decorative bits organized into separate bowls before you sit down. Piping icing can be pretty messy, and you want to have everything easily accessible when you start.
3. Be patient. Hold your structure together and wait for your icing to harden and set before you let go and reach for another piece of cookie.
3. Be patient. Hold your structure together and wait for your icing to harden and set before you let go and reach for another cookie “wall” to add to your delicious smelling structure.
4. Be messy! (I can't believe I just said that either...) But seriously, the more icing you use to bind the pieces of your house together, the better chance you have of it staying put. I piped a ton of icing onto the interior bottom edges of the house to ensure that they would stand upright. Go crazy!
4. Don’t skimp on the icing. The more you use to bind the pieces of your house together, the better chance you have of the whole structure staying put. Knowing that the inside of the house wouldn’t be visible, I piped a ton of icing onto the interior bottom edges of the house to ensure that they would stand upright. Go crazy!
5. Take a breather. Step back and consider what you want your house to look like, what your color scheme is, and how match-matchy you want it to be. I considered making my house all red, white, and silver, but then decided to add a bit of green to break up the monotony. After all, a homemade gingerbread house's charm lies completely in the fact that you've decorated it yourself.
5. Take a breather. Step back and consider what you want your house to look like, what your color scheme is, and how match-matchy you want it to be. I considered making my house all red, white, and silver, but then decided to add some more colors to break up the monotony. After all, the charm of a homemade gingerbread house lies completely in the fact that you’ve decorated it yourself.
6. Add some life with landscaping and characters! I added two marshmallow snowmen, one representing me, and the other representing my husband. I also put an ice-skating pond in the back (not pictured), at the suggestion of Ashley, who was with me.
6. Add some life with landscaping and characters! I made two marshmallow snowmen, one representing me, and the other representing my husband. I also put an ice-skating pond in the back (not pictured), at the suggestion of Ashley, who was with me.

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