Gingerbread houses are a fun, time-honored tradition for many families. The joy of gathering around and helping to decorate and build this sweet holiday decoration is a happy memory for many. If you’d like to break away from using store bought kits and want to put your own spin on your gingerbread house, here are some gingerbread house decorating ideas to get you started.
Make it Monochromatic
Using one color scheme can really make your project pop. Buy different types of candies in shades of the same color and let the texture of the candies be your focal point. Pastel hues can add a cute vintage feel while more saturated colors can make your gingerbread house feel more modern.
Make “Stained Glass” Windows
Instead of keeping the windows of your gingerbread house blank and empty, consider making “stained glass” for them. Melting colored but clear hard candies in the oven and then attaching them to the inside of the wall over the window will add a colorful touch to the house. You can even add a small light inside the house to really make the windows shine. Keeping the windows one color is an option, but you can make a more traditional stained glass appearance by crushing different colors of hard candy into smaller pieces and then arranging them together before you put it in the oven.
Use Candied Fruits
If you’re looking for a unique addition to your gingerbread house, candied fruit makes a great addition to any dessert landscaping. Shiny and glossy, candied fruit can add a multitude of interesting texture and shapes – think of halved candied pineapple ring fences, a rocky pathway made with candied ginger, jolly candied cherry garlands. Dried mango shingles layered on the roof will add a bright color and snowy looking topping to your gingerbread house. If you opt for candied fruit meant for making fruitcake, you can add a neon green garnish perfect for bright bushes and shrubbery.
Adding cereal shingles to the top of the house will not only lend it a charming and more realistic feel, but it also looks impressive and involved. You can use a sturdy square shaped cereal to make a regular pattern or just sprinkle cornflakes or small rice cereal onto unset icing to make a frosty looking roof. Be sure to add “snow” via a heavy-handed sprinkle of powdered sugar.
Stray Away from Traditional Candies
You don’t have to be stuck with peppermints and mini marshmallows. Think outside the box and use candies that you might not usually consider. Colorful treats like sour gummy belts and other shapes are already covered in white sugar and will fit right into the winter motif. Rock candy will make a magical addition to any gingerbread garden and can be used to line or make walkways and paths. Even if you don’t plan on eating the candy, using nontraditional flavors like tamarind or salted plum can be used to beautify your project and add unique colors and texture to it.
Gingerbread Isn’t the Only Option
You shouldn’t limit yourself to using only one type of pastry or bread in building it. Rolled cookies or large pretzel rods can work as terrific columns, supports, or fences in your gingerbread house. You can even choose to forego the gingerbread altogether and use large pretzel rods to make a darling log cabin to decorate. Waffle cones can be slathered in green frosting to make coniferous trees and ladyfinger cookies can be used to make modern-looking siding.
Make it Sparkle
Sometimes, you just want things to be really sparkly. Your gingerbread house can be one of those things. Before assembling the walls and ceiling, cover them in a layer of wet sugar glaze and then sprinkle the glaze with lots of colored sanding sugar before it sets. Let the glaze dry and then assemble and decorate like normal.
Use Dried Herbs
It might not be sweet, but dried herbs can add a rustic and natural feel to your gingerbread house. Chopped up cinnamon sticks make an excellent stack of logs, thyme and lavender can be woven into darling miniature wreaths, and rosemary can be used as garden greenery. Herbs will also add a delicious scent to your home.
You can also mold elements for your gingerbread house out of rice cereal treats or moldable chocolate. Trees and pillars are easy to shape and decorate with these but don’t limit yourself to just simple shapes – animals, walkways, and chimneys are all possible with edible moldable elements. Molded chocolate shapes are another option for making your house even more special. Shaping melted chocolate with candy molds and then attaching them to the house with icing can add more personality to your project. Molded chocolates are easy to customize with food coloring and edible glazes, so there are even more possibilities for a custom design.
Bake it Yourself
If you’re feeling particularly bold, you can bake the pieces to make your own gingerbread house. There are lots of recipes available online to do just that and by baking it yourself, you get to control exactly what it looks like. Decorate a famous landmark or cathedral with icing and candy. You can even make a replica of your own house to decorate, complete with your front yard and gingerbread family.