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Gingerbread houses are quintessentially Christmas, and like so many of our beloved Christmas traditions here in the U.S., they originated in Germany. Not all families partake in the tradition of building their own house, but we certainly recognize them as a timeless symbol of the holiday season.
If you’ve never built a gingerbread house with your kids, give it a try this year. No matter the age of your kids or your craftiness abilities, there many different ways to give gingerbread house construction a try. To help get you in a gingerbread-kinda mood, Little Lake County has put together this Read! Do! Go! round-up for you.
Gingerbread Books for Kids
Something to Read! These stories are full of sugar and spice and everything gingebread.
Gingerbread Baby is loosely inspired by the Gingerbread Man. This classic is available in board book format, too!
With Ten Tiny Gingerbread Men, follow the adventures of these adorable gingerbread men as they count down from 10 to 1 in a peek-through counting book with glitter accents.
If you’re not a baker or want to start easy, No-Bake Gingerbread Houses for Kids is a great book to use as a guide and for inspiration. (Available in Kindle format!)
The White House in Gingerbread: Memories and Recipes is for all you out there who are ready to dive into gingerbread house construction head first. Who better to learn from than the man responsible for creating the grand gingerbread houses for the President?
Make a Gingerbread House with Kids
Build your house, of course! But really, it is not that simple. There are many different ways that you can tackle this project. If you’re not up to constructing a house yourself, you can always buy a kit. The decorating is the most fun, in my opinion. If you don’t plan ahead or have the time to really dig into a gingerbread house, this the way to go.
Wilton Christmas Gingerbread House Kit – Pre-Assembled, Ready to Decorate
Pre-baked and pre-assembled for maximum efficiency and fun! This package contains one assembled gingerbread house ready to be decorated. If your kit isn’t pre-assembled my favorite parenting hack is to hot glue the house together before decorating. It holds together way better than frosting!
I have a good friend who is the queen of party-throwing. Each time we attend one of her events I am blown away by her ability to think of every last detail. She hosted a gingerbread house-building party and it. was. awesome. The kids each received a simple house pre-built from graham crackers (mom-hack! no baking required) on a cardboard cake base and a chef’s hat. Candy was set out in muffin tins, which really helped corral the mess. It was so much fun to see the kids inspired by what their friends were building.
If you’re going all in and plan to bake and build a house from scratch, which I highly recommend despite being not-very-crafty and a terrible baker, I have a few tips:
- Allow plenty of time for the baking and constructing process–don’t plan on doing it all on the same day. Your gingerbread needs to cool and dry, and your frosting needs to set and dry to ensure your house doesn’t collapse.
- Everything I know about gingerbread houses, I have been taught by the master, my mother-in-law. She learned from her mother. I do not question her methods and neither should you. She has baked her gingerbread both from scratch and from a mix, and she insists that the mix is the way to go. We use Betty Crocker’s, but it can be hard to come by. If you see it in the store, grab it even if you don’t plan to bake right away.
- Make your template for the house from paper, and cut around that with a paring knife so all your pieces fit together.
- Make some gingerbread cookies for little helpers (or hinderers, as I lovingly call them) to decorate if you want a pretty finished product.
- Use a coffee mug or other straight-sided glass to support walls while they set.
Gingerbread Themed Activities
Build a gingerbread house and let somebody else clean up the mess!
Gingerbread House Workshops
Weekends in December
Taste Buds Kitchen, Bannockburn
REGISTRATION REQUIRED, Taste Buds Kitchen is hosting Family Gingerbread Workshops every weekend in December leading up to Christmas. Family workshops are designed for all ages (2+ recommended) and cost $39 per parent/child pair. Read all about the Gingerbread Workshops at Taste Buds Kitchen.
Gingerbread House Decorating
10 December 6:00 p.m.
Dalton’s Cakes, Grayslake
REGISTRATION REQUIRED. $22 per person
Join the Dalton’s for a fun evening of Gingerbread House Decorating. Lots of candy and lots of sugar.
Gingerbread House Decorating
15 December 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Gorton Community Center, Lake Forest
REGISTRATION REQUIRED, $60 per House, up to 6 people
Get in the holiday spirit and have some quality family time while designing your house, sipping hot chocolate and listening to lively sounds of the season.
Does your family build a gingerbread house? Have any tips or a recipe for our readers? Please share in the comments section.
Find more Christmas events and activities at Christmas in Lake County.
By: Holly G.
Holly keeps busy with freelance writing, as well as many volunteer ventures including PTO, dog rescue, and Lakes Region Historical Society. She is quick to pitch in for a good cause. She is an aspiring vegan, Jazzercise addict, runner, coffee junkie, and enjoys cooking.
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