How To Build A Gingerbread House In 36 'Easy' Steps

by Rachael Pavlik
Originally Published: 
A collage of two images: one with a decorated gingerbread house, the other one a ruined and smashed ...
LEFT: meltonmedia/Getty; RIGHT: kislev/Getty

Creating an adorable gingerbread house is a fun and festive activity the whole family will enjoy. What a delicious way to ring in this magical holiday season! Assembling your edible masterpiece is a snap and will surely become a sweet, time-honored tradition you and your kiddos will look forward to every year. It’s more than building a craft — you’re building cherished childhood memories. Let’s get started!

1. Start by researching recipes and house shapes. It’s fun to create a Pinterest board dedicated to gingerbread and piping techniques. The possibilities are endless!

2. Get your kiddos in on the planning and have them draw what they’d like their special gingerbread house to look like. Will it be a cozy cottage or a grand castle? What candy would they like to include? Make their imagination come to life in cookie form!

3. Spend $300 on baking supplies, spices and candy. Carefully follow the recipe for homemade gingerbread dough. You will also need to make something called “royal icing.” Find a castle template or whatever shape your kid dreamt up. This is certainly a challenge!

4. Be sure to start this whole process several days earlier than you plan to bake. Apparently, the dough needs to chill for hours or it will be a sticky mess and a real bitch to roll out. I know that now.

5. On your mark, get set, bake! Realize you made eight walls and only one roof piece, but bake it anyway. Burn the first batch. Accidentally add salt instead of sugar in the second batch. Congratulations, after several hundred dollars and 24 hours your gingerbread tastes like corrugated, salty disappointment.

6. Listen as your kids ask for the 500th time why this doesn’t look anything like the Hogwarts castle they drew and also why it tastes like brown Play-Doh. There might be tears. They might be yours.

7. Ask yourself if you’ve had some Martha Stewart-level fever-dream hallucination about your baking abilities, then go buy a pre-made gingerbread kit. It’s okay, girl. You’re still making memories.

8. Open the kit, notice two of the four walls are broken. Listen to your kids whine and cry.

9. Buy a second gingerbread kit. Only one wall is broken in this set. Whatever. Good enough.

10. Can we call Chip and Joanna to rescue this fixer upper? LOL!

11. Read the directions together and have a game plan! This is gonna be fun, remember? Listen to your kids fight about who gets to decorate what section.

12. Get in the car to buy two more gingerbread kits just to shut them the hell up. Also buy some wine. Consider driving away forever.

13. Okay, let’s reset… It’s all fine– we’re making memories. So fun. Let’s do this! Breathe.

14. Soften your royal icing in the microwave. Not that soft. Goddammit you burned it. Good thing you have extra kits. It’ll be okay!

15. Glue sides, front and back of house together using royal icing. Place an object against the pieces to prop up until icing is dry. Attach the roof by gluing two roof pieces with royal icing. Use more royal icing. Use a metric fuck-ton of royal icing.


17. It’s a good idea to let the royal icing “mortar” on the house for an hour or so before decorating. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Let’s get this shit over with.

18. Your kids won’t leave it alone long enough to dry. Watch as the walls collapse, just like your hopes and dreams.

19. Where is your husband and why isn’t he helping? Is he still pooping? Bullshit. NOBODY POOPS THAT MUCH, CRAIG!

20. Re-read the 23 page instructions and see if they include divorce papers.


22. Call your brother, the structural engineer, and tell him to get his happy ass over here and help before you murder your entire family.

23. The candy is wet. WHY IS THE CANDY WET, MADISON??

24. When your brother comes over and immediately quips that your gingerbread house is not up to code, wrap licorice around your knuckles and punch him directly in his stupid face.

25. The royal icing has all hardened and become a royal pain in your ass.

26. Realize your children’s taste level and sense of design is absolute shit.

27. Get out the Gorilla Glue. Who cares. No one is going to eat this godforsaken thing anyway. Just do it.

28. Watch as your children destroy your dining room table, your sanity, any good feelings you had about the holidays along with any sense of accomplishment you may have ever had in life.

29. Add wafer cookies, tootsie rolls, pretzels, gumdrops and a tiny trail of Xanax that leads directly into your mouth.

30. Realize those red and white swirly “Star Brite” peppermints are the candy corn of the Christmas candy world. Eat seven of them.

31. Notice there is now royal icing on the ceiling. How the fuck?

32. Your family has eaten most of the halfway decent candy. The rest is stuck on the floor or the dog’s butthole.

33. Dig out your kids’ leftover Halloween candy. Oh, but it has bats and spiders all over it, you say? WHOTHAFUCARES?! GLUE IT ON! GLUE. IT. ALL. ON. LET’S END THIS NIGHTMARE.

34. When you run out of Gorilla Glue and royal icing, use your children’s tears to glue this bitch together.

35. Your whole family has wandered away, leaving you to finish trying to decorate what now looks like a condemned crack house. Making memories, my ass.

36. You now have six gingerbread kits, four pounds of candy stuck to a dog, three crying kids, two ragey parents, one terrified uncle, not one completed gingerbread house… and a partridge in a pear tree.

Merry Fucking Christmas.

This article was originally published on