Decorating gingerbread houses has become a tradition in our family. It’s something my mommy-in-law introduced our first Christmas in Ireland (after schlepping kits all the way across the ocean!) and we’ve done them every year with them since.
Though we never end up with the fanciest or most professional looking houses, In the many years we’ve been building gingerbread houses, I’ve learned a few things about making the process easier and more fun for everyone!
Tips for Gingerbread House Success with Kids:
Use leftover Halloween candy.
It will save you from having to buy more candy, will use up your overabundance of leftover Halloween candy and will give your little one a large selection of decorating options. (I use all the stuff no one wants to eat!)
Sort the candy into a muffin tin.
Build on an easy to move base.
The more frosting the better!
I’m usually tasked with actually building the house out of the kit pieces we get (we’ve not yet tried homemade gingerbread pieces, maybe next year?) and I’ve found that the more frosting you use to create the foundation and stick the pieces together, the better, this is not one place to be chintzy!
Ice one small section to decorate at a time.
I let the girls choose where they want icing and what shape(s). Then I let them add the candies before doing more icing. Doing too much frosting too quick will just leave you with dry frosting that flakes off when you try to add candies later (and sad, frustrated little children).
Taste testing happens.
We always try to limit how much our kids eat when making our gingerbread houses but it always ends up in frustration. I’m working on letting it go and just letting them eat what they want (so long as SOME of it makes it on the houses!)
Let the kids create.
I like things to be a certain way but after years and year of preschool teaching, I learned how important it is to let kids do creative projects their own way. I help my girls make their houses and do a little decorating myself but generally give them their own creative freedom.