Every year, my sisters and I make gingerbread houses a few days before Christmas. I know, I know — this doesn't make us innovators. Building and decorating gingerbread houses is a fairly common holiday tradition for plenty of families, and even though I'd like to think that the way we do it is totally one-of-a-kind, I understand that it's probably not true. What I can say for sure is that the actual designs of my gingerbread houses have become less and less one-of-a-kind over the last few years. That's right, my friends. I've become predictable. (Gasp!) Now that I've admitted it, though, I can begin to actually make good use of this handy thing we call the Internet to collect inspiration for this year's house. As much for me as they are for you, here are 14 delicious Christmas gingerbread house ideas.
I'll kick things off with the inside scoop on making the basic elements of the house itself, then finish with photos of some creations that you'll be able to use as inspo when it comes time to make your own gingerbread masterpiece. Down with boring gingerbread houses forever!
Basic Gingerbread Recipe
You've gotta walk before you run — and before you can become an expert in all things gingerbread architecture, you need to master a reliable gingerbread recipe that will ensure you have building blocks sturdy enough to assemble something truly great. Tori Avey's gingerbread will work as cut-out cookies or houses — and she offers a full history of the holiday classic as well.
The final building block (pun intended!) of a successful gingerbread house is royal icing, which many pastry chefs recommend as the ideal option for actually putting the pieces of your project together. If you're ready to challenge yourself beyond simply using the icing from a kit this year, check out this recipe from Tori Avey for all the basics.
Classic Gingerbread House
This gingerbread house example from The Kitchn is about as visually textbook as it gets. To capture this look, grab your favorite candies in bulk from the store, mix up some royal icing, and go to town. To make life even easier, The Kitchn suggests you can stick your gingerbread pieces to the sides of two small milk cartons.
Rustic Log Cabin
Now that you understand the basics of gingerbread, you can start building with a bit more flair — and this log cabin from Vikalinka should be a great way to launch this next phase of your cookie construction career. Use mini pretzel rods to achieve the log cabin look, add royal icing to the roof for a snowy effect, and decorate the roof with chocolate buttons, snowflake sprinkles, and silver balls. Desiccated coconut forms the snowy ground outside.
Grab a few gingerbread-proficient friends and a couple of bottles of wine, then assign a different part of the farm to each of your guests. If one person decorates the silos, another assembles the large barn, and someone else makes a few animal-shaped cut-outs, your final product might end up looking a little something like My Name is Yeh's. Well, maybe.
Fuller Gingerbread House
Even if you're not a huge of fan Full House or its recent Netflix reboot, you've gotta admit that this re-creation of the iconic San Francisco townhouse is pretty, pretty impressive. Build your own version, or consider making other structures from your favorite shows or movies out of cookies and candy this year.
I can't say I ever would have thought to build a gingerbread lighthouse on my own, but now that I've seen what one can look like, I'm not going to rule it out. Thanks to Parsley, Sage and Sweet for getting these cookie-making creative wheels turning!
Haunted Gingerbread Houses
Not so into the traditional red, green, and shiny gingerbread houses? There are no rules that say you can't integrate your other favorite holidays into whatever creation you're cooking up this year! Take a cue from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and try a haunted gingerbread house. It's, like, so alternative.
Peppermint Gingerbread House
I wish I could say I liked the actual flavor of gingerbread more than I do. I enjoy the process of making gingerbread desserts more than actually eating them — and I feel like I would somehow get more into the spirit of the season if this wasn't the case. As a big peppermint fan, I love the idea of incorporating a minty element into a gingerbread house. The Kitchn, you might turn me into a gingerbread eater yet!
Gingerbread Ice Castle
Elsa would be more than content to spin around outside this castle belting "Let It Go." While the scale of this structure is a little intimidating to say the least, it would be totally doable to make a smaller version using royal icing in a few different colors, some gummy candies, and a little powdered sugar.
Ice Cream Cone Gingerbread Houses
Incorporating ice cream cones into your gingerbread house designs is a great way to add some extra shape and dimension. Cover them in green icing and decorate with candy to create a Christmas tree, stick them to the top of square structures for some additional grandeur, or skip baking the gingerbread altogether (I promise I won't tell a soul) and build your design entirely out of cones.
Gingerbread White House
If you're as miffed as I am (which is very miffed) by what's been happening in the White House this year, maybe you should make your own out of gingerbread. I'll resist the urge to make a joke here about how much more or less effective a gingerbread administration would be compared to the human one we currently have running things. No. Comment.
Dollhouse Gingerbread Houses
These Victorian-style gingerbread houses are giving me major dollhouse vibes. I love the pastel colors, which will really stand out in the sea of reds, greens, and browns.