Decorating gingerbread houses is a fun and nostalgic way to celebrate winter holidays with your family.
Our good friend Jessica of Toymaking Magic shows us how she recreated her favorite holiday tradition without all of the sugar and sweets.
Try out these tips for a healthy take on candy free gingerbread houses.
Gather your Candy-Free Ingredients
When you picture a traditional gingerbread village the colorful gumdrops and peppermint swirls spring to mind, but for this project you'll be looking for healthier alternatives. With these options on the table it's okay for your children to nibble and munch as they decorate. The bulk section of your local health food store is likely to have great options, but here are some ideas to get you started.
- dried cranberries
- banana chips
- coconut flakes
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- thyme or rosemary sprigs
Create Your Pattern
If you don't already have a beloved gingerbread house pattern, many printables can be found online. Jessica cut these simple shapes out of thin cardboard to avoid paper sticking to the gingerbread dough.
Assemble Your Houses
Use royal icing to construct your gingerbread houses because it dries hard and offers the most stability. Depending on your families needs, you can stick with traditional royal icing, or whip up a batch that's sugar free.
When assembling your house you'll need to let the walls set for at least an hour before adding the roof. Let each section dry so your roof doesn't slide off as you begin to add decorations. Once the icing that holds the house together is fully dried the fun can begin!
Deck the Halls
While they might be less colorful than their candy-covered counterparts, these gingerbread houses are still beautiful. The alternative decorations offer a fun way to be creative. The pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and fresh herbs are key to adding the green and red holiday spirit! Use your remaining icing to "glue" the decorative components onto your houses.
To make a mini wreath for your houses, take a sprig of thyme, form a small circle and weave the ends into the circle once or twice to secure. Attach the wreath with a small bit of royal icing at the top and bottom of the wreath and hold in place until it has started to set.
No holiday village is complete without a snow covered pine! Trees are the perfect addition and fun to decorate too. First cut out two tree shapes, then cut one in half. Attach each of the halves on one side of your whole tree with the royal icing and let it set.
Set the Scene
Once you've created a few houses and trees you're ready to create your gingerbread village display. Popcorn creates the illusion of snow in this edible wonderland! We hope his fun candy free gingerbread village is a tradition that your family loves for years to come.