Make fun gingerbread house kits as wonderful gifts for a fun family activity. Your friends will love receiving these and will enjoy decorating them.
This past year, we weren’t able to have our annual gingerbread party at my home daycare due to social distancing regulations, so I whipped up the houses and icing and make take-home kits. They make such a great gift for so many on your list!
Gingerbread house decorating kits
A gingerbread house is a lovely way to decorate for the holiday season. You can bake the house from scratch and assemble it plus provide frosting for the recipients of your gift.
Premade gingerbread houses
I preassemble because once you assemble a house, you need to let it cure for 48 hours to a week for it to be sturdy enough for small children to decorate without it falling apart. What young child wants to wait? So this makes it hassle-free for families.
I use recipes from Martha Stewart, because, let’s face it, Martha KNOWS! I’ve been using her gingerbread and icing recipe for the whole 25 years I’ve been doing this event and it never fails me. Here are the steps.
What you’ll need to make a gingerbread house kit:
- Structural gingerbread dough
- Parchment paper
- A pattern (you can find them online, make your own, or use cookie cutters.)
- Extra flour
- Rolling pin
- Pastry wheel or knife.
- Royal icing
- Disposable pastry bags
- Cardboard rounds to assemble them on
- Straight pins for “nails”
- Large bags to wrap up the project
- You can include candy, but I didn’t. I let families choose their own decorations.
Once you decide how to make your house pieces, mix up the dough and roll it out to 1/4 inch thick. Lay your pattern pieces on top of the dough and cut them out, and bake them on parchment-lined baking sheets. Let them cool for about 5 minutes on the pan and then put them on a cooling rack to cool overnight.
Cut out a few little gingerbread men for them to use in decorating their scene as well. If you have Christmas tree cookie cutters, those would be fun to add too.
You’ll want them to be as dry as possible. Try not to bake and assemble when it’s raining. You can, but your house will be more fragile.
Glue one side of your house onto the edge of your cake round with the royal icing and then run a line of glue on the inside edge of both sides.
(Also remember that if you leave the royal icing in the air, it will dry like concrete, so keep your bowl of extra covered with a wet towel and keep your bag covered if you have to stop using it for a time)
Set the front and back of the house in that glue and push in a straight pin to hold it like a nail. Use one at the top and one at the bottom. Remember to remove these before giving the house, it just holds it in place.
If your house is very big, use vegetable or soup cans to hold the sides up too as they dry. If it’s small enough to fit on the 8-inch board, the pins will be enough. Next, run a line of glue on the edges of the front and back and press on the other side of the house.
Line all of the open edges with glue and then pick up one side of the roof and run glue along the top edge. Press the roof into the glue on the house and then glue the other side and press the final piece of the roof on.
Run more glue around the entire bottom of the house so it won’t fall off the round or slide around when they are decorating it.
If you have a chimney or other pieces, assemble them as well. Let the houses cure for 2 days to a week before wrapping them up.
Add a pastry bag of prepared royal icing that’s tied up to the package and tie up the top. Your daycare families or friends are going to love this activity for their families.
Gingerbread house supplies
Here are some fun decorating ideas:
- Foil wrapped snowmen or bells
- Wafter cookies, andes mints, mini candy bars or sticks of gum for roof shingles or shutters.
- Necco wafters, frosted mini wheats, vanilla wafers, nonpareils, gum drops or chocolate chips for roof shingles too.
- Pretzels, teddy grams, candy canes or mints for fences or other yard decor.
- Ice skating pond can be made of aluminum foil, jello in a plastic lid, or blue hard candies melted in the oven on parchment.
- Powdered sugar for snow
- Tootsie roll midgees, cinnamon sticks, or pretzel sticks for a pile of logs.
Gingerbread train kit
You can make a gingerbread train car kit just the same way as you made the house kit. Making train cars with a homemade pattern is simple. You can just make two squares and three rectangles the same height as the squares.
Then place one rectangle down and run glue on all 4 edges on the top. Place the other two rectangles and squares on it to form a box. If you want to top the car, add another rectangle on top, but leaving it open lets the receiver fill it with “coal” or other fun stuff.
Once the car has dried for a day or two, glue on some gingerbread circles, oreo cookies, or vanilla wafers for wheels. Trains are one of our favorite gingerbread projects.
When we have our celebrations, I make each family a train car or a little house and at the end of the night, we put them all on a board to donate to our local child advocacy center. The kids that come there take great delight in seeing the creation and there’s not a lot of joy in their lives at the time they have to be there.
If you are not feeling up to building a creation out of gingerbread, you can do the same thing by whipping up the dough and icing and cutting out some flat train cars or a set of gingerbread men. Almost anything is cute in gingerbread. Make 6 or a dozen cookies for each recipient and put them in an aluminum cake pan with a bag of icing to use to decorate. That is super fun for families too.
Another idea if you don’t want to make the dough, is to buy premade cookies to use or cut gingerbread house walls out of graham crackers and build tiny houses from those to make your kit out of. It’s just as fun to decorate a tiny graham cracker house too!
I hope you enjoy making a gingerbread kit to give. It will bring a lot of joy to you and the people who receive it!