The gingerbread house remains a tradition in many homes during the holiday season. If you wish to start this tradition with your family, you may feel a little intimidated by the size and scope of the project. Fortunately, decorating a gingerbread house is not a difficult task if you have the right tools and supplies in front of you; it just takes time and patience. Practicing beforehand on spare pieces doesn't hurt either.
Start With a Plan
Before you start decorating your gingerbread house, develop a plan. Decide which parts of the house should be decorated. Do you want decorations to surround the house or would you prefer to have the house be the focal point? Once this has been determined, you will need to select what you will use during the decorating process. Here is where your gingerbread house will be unlike any other. Decorations may include gum drops, candy canes, foil wrapped Santas, and bells. If you want an ice skating pond, melt a blue mint on parchment paper in the microwave. Mini Tootsie Rolls work great for a pile of firewood. Let your imagination run wild, just be sure to plan everything out before starting.
Cover the Seams
Now that you have your plan in place, it is time to pull out the icing and go to work. Cover the seams with candy to hide any flaws in the construction. You may wish to use spearmint leaves as they make great shrubs. If they are too large, cut them in half with kitchen shears.
Decorate the Sides of the House
Many choose to start with the front door. Decide where you feel most comfortable starting and begin there. If children are involved, allow them to decorate the back of the house. If they go overboard with the candy, it will not be as noticeable. Again, have them follow the plan you developed before beginning. Even if it looks garish, they will be proud of their accomplishments.
Fill in the Base Around the House and Move to the Roof
Add snow around the house and place candies along the way to make a path or other landscaping items. Bypass this step if you prefer a stark landscape. Finally, place icing on the roof and decorate as desired. A snow covered roof with minimal decoration is one option. Others use gingerbread men cookies to finish off the look.
Add the Finishing Touches
Add ribbon to the edge of your gingerbread house base. Using the icing as a glue, run a thin line of icing around the plate or other item you are using to hold the ribbon in place. Create pull down icicles along the eaves of the roof or add a chimney using chocolate squares. Finish up with a cotton ball for smoke.
Once your masterpiece is finished, spray it with clear acrylic if you wish to keep it for years. It will no longer be edible, but will be a decoration that will be treasured by all. For those who prefer to eat the house, remember candies will last approximately three months before they need to be thrown away. Either way, your gingerbread house will be admired by all who see it.
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