Make Gingerbread Houses Without Gingerbread!

Pretzels work great for building a "gingerbread" house. Image courtesy of The Pretzel Eater's Club.

Pretzels work great for building a “gingerbread” house. Image courtesy of The Pretzel Eater’s Club.

 

 

If you’re hankering to make a few gingerbread houses but don’t really want to buy the pre-fab house parts or make your own gingerbread  pieces, there are so many other ways to build a “gingerbread” house.

The Rules of Gingerbread House Making

Most people agree, there are a few “rules” to making a gingerbread house or village. 1) It should be made of all edible ingredients – anything else is sorta cheating. 2) You need a great Royal Icing recipe in order to secure things quickly.

There are recipes that are eggless and can still do a good job “gluing” your pieces together well. In fact, there are at least 10 different varieties of recipes that can work well as “cement.” Icings that have any fat (margarine, butter, shortening), usually will not harden enough, so they will not be appropriate.

Building Supplies that are not Gingerbread

Here are possible base building supplies:

Large pretzel rods (great for log houses)
Small pretzel rods (good for smaller houses, fencing, railroad tracks, street lights, etc.)
Graham Crackers or any other square/rectangular ones
Waffles (browned well in toaster)
Chocolate Bars (Thicker ones work better)
Store bought cookies
Rice cereal treats or mix
Thick licorice sticks
Beef jerky sticks,such as Slim Jims
Cow Tails
Wide taffy strips
Bread slices (either browned well or set out the night before to harden)

Garnishments for Decorating Your Scene

If you are as frugal as this writer, you’ll be collecting your garnishments during the after- Halloween sales of candy. You’d be amazed at how much money you can save.

Here is a basic list of decorating add-ons:

Round crackers (great for wreaths, windows, lollipops, bushes, etc.)
Lifesavers (wreaths, trees, windows, etc.)
Gumdrops (lights on posts, bushes, etc.)
M & M’s (walkways, around windows, etc.)
Candy necklaces
Sprinkles
Flaked coconut ( snow)
sugar cones (used for steeples, trees, etc.)
Large marshmallows (works great for snowmen)
Chocolate chips (big and mini)
Cereals: Frosted Wheat = thatched roofs
Cinnamon Toast Crunch = clay tiles
*Just look in your cupboard and use your imagination for so much more!
Images of Unusual or Non-Gingerbread Houses

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Water Features for your Scene

A great addition to a gingerbread house scene is adding a skating or fishing pond. This can be done by using inexpensive hard candy in either white or blue. You can melt the candy into a pond for skaters or toss a few orange fish crackers into the hot candy. When hardened, you’ll be able to see the fish clearly.

 

Hints and Tips:

If you’re using crackers as a base and working with small children, it is often easier for parents to “glue” aka ice the houses together at least a few hours ahead. This will ensure that attention spans will be more focused on the decorating rather than the patience it may take to hold pieces in place.

You can also use a small block or piece of cardboard to hold up the wall in the center of each until they stand on their own and then remove the support and glue on the roofs.

ALWAYS cover your bowl of icing with foil or plastic after making or it will harden. Use a plastic baggie and fill with icing and cut a small hole at corner. This way you can work at your leisure, rather than dipping a knife into a bowl – which again, if uncovered too long will harden.

If you have a gingerbread scene or house you’re proud of, please feel free to share it with all of us. Thanks!

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