We decorated gingerbread houses last night and I’m sharing my experience so your gingerbread house decorating session is just a bit easier than ours was! That, and so I can recall my own tips next year!!
Buy the gingerbread cookie mixes in November
I tried to buy more mixes and they were sold out! I went to 3 stores to find the extra that I needed! The mix at Walmart was fine. It filled the molds perfectly. The mix at Jewel was larger. When I used the rolling pin to smooth it out, I rolled off quite a bit of excess. I actually collected enough to make an extra piece that had broken!
We’re located in the midwest and Jewel is a local neighborhood store for us. I believe their stores are throughout the midwest. What I want to say about it here – it’s a smaller store than Walmart and they don’t have as many endcaps or island shelving for holiday items. I found it in the one seasonal section near the produce and deli area at the front of the store. It was NOT with the regular baking mixes!
While you’re buying the mixes, if you need new food coloring, but it early too! I noticed that there were no primary color sets left at any of the stores I was shopping at!
Baking the houses
Ok, so 1 mix will make 1 house. The molds that I’m using are from Pampered Chef. If you know me, you know that I am a huge fan of direct sales companies! I don’t sell this one, I’m just a purchaser! I got these molds earlier in the year when a friend was having a party. It was a lot of work but they turned out amazing and I’m so happy I followed through on this project!
The molds are silicone. Don’t use spray oil because it gets gummy and is hard to clean! I used a basting brush to spread some coconut oil. It was so easy!
If you don’t know anyone who sells Pampered Chef, here’s a link you can use to take a look at their products. While you’re there, I highly recommend the Chocolate Drizzlers! I purchased several of these with the intention of having multiple colors for decorating cookies!
We had our neighborhood kids over to decorate the houses, so it worked out perfectly to have multiple drizzlers filled with white, red, and green frosting! More on these when I talk about the frosting!
You can bake 2 houses per day if needed. I started on Wednesday with 1 house. Then 2 on Thursday and 2 on Friday. I work from home, so I just squeezed it into the day! Another reason I love working from home as a virtual assistant!*
Let them cool in the mold and then I stacked them nicely and put them in a gallon-size ziplock, each house in one bag. What I learned when going to assemble them – carefully cut off the overflow after they’ve cooled! Don’t wait until they are rock hard!
The overflow that I’m talking about is what happens when you bake a cookie – it rises and makes a lip. Thankfully my husband was able to saw them off with a bread knife, but next year I will cut off the excess BEFORE they become rock hard! I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of this but you’ll know it when you see it!
Setting up the frosting
I bought 1 tub of icing for each house. This was overkill!!!! We used less than 2 tubs of icing for 5 houses!
I started by scooping 1 tub of vanilla frosting into a gallon size ziplock bag. Save the empty tub!
Next, scoop half of the 2nd tub of frosting into the empty tub. Now you have 2 half-full tubs of frosting for making the colored frosting. I used about 10 drops in each of red and green.
After mixing the colors into the frosting, I scooped them into individual gallon ziplock bags. I carefully cut a small corner off of the bag to pipe the frosting into the drizzlers. This is key – only fill the drizzlers halfway! The plunger for the drizzler takes up a lot of space and if you fill it more than halfway, the icing will come out the wrong end and make a big mess.
The drizzles take some getting used to but the kids managed them quite well! The mom’s helped the littlest kids, but they all seemed to be able to do it by themselves. We had kids ranging from 2-6.
Another quick tip about the frosting: we didn’t use everything that ended up in the pre-fill bags. So I carefully set them upright in a bowl and put them in the fridge. Now we can use them to decorate cookies. Thank you, neighbor Mallory, for reminding me that I wanted to decorate cookies this week!
Assembling the houses
We cut 8×8 inch cardboard squares and wrapped them in foil to use as the bases. These worked perfectly! But do remind the kiddos to turn the base, not the house!
We assembled the houses on the morning of our planned event. After assembling them, we placed them on cookie sheets and carefully took them to our garage so the frosting would set faster in the cool air. As I mentioned, we’re in the midwest, so it’s plenty cool in our garage!
I purchased bags of spiced gumdrops, peppermint disks, M&M’s, and gummy bears. To my surprise, the spiced gumdrops were the most used! Just to my surprise because I don’t like them, but the kids seemed to like them for their houses!
I bought 2 bags of spiced gumdrops, which seemed to be perfect. And 1 bag each of the peppermint disks and gummy bears. I got a family-sized bag of M&M’s which was probably more than we needed. Everyone, including the adults, seemed to be eating as many M&M’s as they decorated with! But, I’ll get the same next year as the candy is the one thing I seemed to get right! Haha
LOL. Yes, if you’re on a special diet and you’re planning to decorate gingerbread houses, have an appetizer or other snacks ready that fit into your diet plan! Chips and salsa, queso, and pork rinds for the win!
Here’s the short version:
- Need 1 gingerbread cookie mix per house; Buy them all upfront, in November!
- Used less than 2 tubs of frosting for 5 houses!
- Can bake 2 houses per day if needed!
- Candies used: spicy gumdrops, peppermint disks, M&M’s, gummy bears.
- Cut 8×8 base from cardboard-wrapped in foil.
- When baking the house pieces, carefully cut off the “overflow” when it cools.
- Assemble the morning of (decorating day) and set in the garage for the frosting to set.
- For the mold – follow the box directions for mixing. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.
- Fill the icing drizzler only halfway!
- If you need new food coloring, but that early too!
And now for the finished results! I might be partial, but I like my 6-year-old daughter’s house the best! She did hers 100% by herself, as you can see from the excessive frosting! But I love it because it’s so colorful! And my son immediately disassembled his house to begin eating it! 🤣 Lol
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If you made it this far, thanks for reading my post about our gingerbread houses!
Edited: this is our social bubble! We were socially safe within our bubble at all times!