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How to make an epic gingerbread house

Here are 10 tips and tricks to help you make your very own gingerbread masterpiece

Picabo Street studies a gingerbread house.
In this November 2003 file photo, skier Picabo Street studies a gingerbread house created by Cheryl Fullmer as part of a gingerbread house auction that took place at the Grand Hall of the Union Pacific Train Depot at Gateway in Salt Lake City.
Michael Brandy, Deseret News

Gingerbread houses are an old tradition, existing since the 16th century. These cookie-walled houses stuck together with sticky icing and decorated with candies and edible paint have become the go-to Christmas activity.

If you feel inspired to create an amazing gingerbread house yourself, here are 10 tips and tricks that we here at the Deseret News have complied to help you get you started.

  1. Find your inspiration on Pinterest.

The first step is to lay out a plan. Shopping for the right ingredients and decorations as well as finding the right design is a cakewalk when you know what you want your gingerbread house to look like. Bakers often share their designs on Pinterest. Magnet, a design solutions company, even collected the top 20 most popular designs which can be found here.

2. Gather your tools.

Before baking and decorating, make sure your tools and ingredients are laid out. It’s hard to look for a candy cane or some chocolate buttons when you’re in the middle of it with sticky hands.

3. Cut your shapes before you bake.

If you have a good idea of the design you want to use, cut out your gingerbread house shapes before baking. This will help you avoid breaking the gingerbread while cutting out shapes once it’s already baked.

4. Icing on the gingerbread.

It is recommended that you decorate the individual pieces before assembling the structure. According to Honolulu Magazine, icing sticks to itself best. This also prevents the icing from getting ruined.

5. Keep icing in workable condition.

Icing dries very quickly and the best way to keep it in workable condition is by covering it with a damp cloth, said Sophie Palladino, the pastry kitchen supervisor at Hilton Denver Inverness, per 5280. The tricky and tedious job of using icing becomes a whole lot easier with this simple trick.

6. Create a stable structure.

By adding frosting on the inside when assembling the gingerbread house, you can create a stable structure that can stay standing for much longer. Plus, your structure will look much clearer, without any leaking icing lines.

7. Timing is key.

Give time for your icing to dry to avoid ruining your gingerbread house. It's easy to rush ahead but it’s recommended to leave the icing to dry overnight before transporting your masterpiece anywhere. Additionally, consider working in stages so that individual items have time to dry as well, said Catherine Beddall, a pastry artist, per the Santa Maria Times.

8. Light it up.

To make your gingerbread house look extra special, add a battery-operated tealight for effect, just like Bryce did. At night, your lit-up gingerbread house will be the perfect Christmas decoration.

9. Keep it safe and fresh.

When you’ve built your gingerbread house, cover it at night to protect it from dust and bugs. A simple plastic cover can do the trick to ensure that your creation stays safe. Don’t forget to eat it within a week, while it's still fresh!

10. Invite other cooks to your kitchen.

Remember, this is a festive activity and it won’t be as fun if you do it by yourself. Invite your family and friends to build a whole village of gingerbread houses.