Christmas Traditions, Part 3: DIY Gingerbread House

For those of you who are just joining me on this series, I am so glad you are here. Christmas traditions with your family are not only fun, they are important. I talked about three reasons why they are important here. In part 2 of this series, I shared my own Christmas traditions; past and present. You can read more about those here.  

I saved our favorite tradition for the last post in this series. 

Photo Dec 16, 10 26 24 AM.jpg

One of my family’s Christmas traditions that has spanned generations is decorating handmade gingerbread houses. From the time I was a young child even up until I was married with children, I would join my siblings and cousins at my grandparent's house to decorate gingerbread houses. My grandfather would have worked days to make a dozen or more “gingerbread” houses out of cardboard and hot glue. My grandmother would make the icing which she would then spread over the cardboard models, one side at a time. Then, we would take any of the seemingly endless amounts of candy and press it into the icing, the results being gingerbread houses that were each festive and unique. 

 DIY gingerbread house completed.

DIY gingerbread house completed.

Once my grandfather passed away, our family picked up the tradition. Now, my husband uses this same template to make the cardboard houses for our own children, nieces, and nephews. We love seeing the children, some of whom are teenagers (and still love the tradition!) turn these plain cardboard houses into mini masterpieces. 

I want to share with you today the template we use of my grandfather’s to create your own gingerbread house. It is fairly simple to do! 

The material needed for these houses is probably items you already have around your home:

  1. Cardboard (I use recycled boxes we had saved)
  2. Craft knife
  3. Glue gun and glue sticks
  4. Ruler
  5. Template 
 Supplies: Cardboard Template Pieces + Craft Knife + Glue Gun/glue stick +Ruler

Supplies: Cardboard Template Pieces + Craft Knife + Glue Gun/glue stick +Ruler

Now that you have your supplies, here are the steps:

First, create your template. The houses will have two rectangle sides, two gabled sides, two roof pieces, a chimney, and a base. Eight pieces in total.  

Measurements (in inches):

  1. Rectangle Sides: 6 3/4 x 4 1/2
  2. Roof: 9 3/4 x 6
  3. Chimney: 8 x 2 1/2 rectangle with 2 cut outs measuring 1 1/2 deep into the rectangle (*see images for greater detail)
  4. Base: 10 3/4 x 8 3/4
  5. Gabled Sides: 4 1/2 x 5 3/4 at base, gabled top 4 1/4

Trace these measurements onto the cardboard and cut them out. (Be sure to label immediately what each piece is!)

 Template pieces for gingerbread house.

Template pieces for gingerbread house.

Then, begin tracing the template onto your remaining cardboard, making as many forms as you need (we have 11 children total-counting our kids and their cousins-who participate, so it was quite a few.)

Next, cut out your pieces with the craft knife. Helpful tip: We keep them in stacks as we are going along for easier construction.

 All the cardboard pieces cut out and ready to be glued!

All the cardboard pieces cut out and ready to be glued!

Finally, glue your pieces together. It is best to start with attaching the sides to one of your gabled front pieces.  Then attach the other gabled front to the other end of the sides. From there, the roof goes on, then the chimney. And finally, you attach the house to the base.

 Chimney close-up

Chimney close-up

With that, you’ve built your “gingerbread” house. 

 Now just add Royal Icing and Candy!

Now just add Royal Icing and Candy!

When you have built this cute gingerbread house, you are ready to now ice it with my grandmother’s Royal Icing (recipe found here) and then load it down with candy.  

I hope you find this as fun as we do! You will be pleasantly surprised how unique each house will turn out. Some will focus more on patterns and consistency while others will just creatively place candies anywhere and everywhere! 

I’d love for you to share with me your experience utilizing this DIY. Was it fun and easy? Is it something you could see starting as a tradition in your own family?