Christmas Crafting: Graham Cracker "Gingerbread" Houses

We love making gingerbread houses. It’s become quite the family tradition. I don’t make homemade gingerbread. We buy the really easy to do kits. But a few years ago, we wanted to make gingerbread houses with a group of friends from our science co-op group. And it would be a little pricey to buy the kits for everyone. So I reverted to an idea from my 2nd grade teaching days- Graham cracker “gingerbread” houses. Using graham crackers, icing, and lots of candy, the kids can create some pretty cute houses that are also pretty tasty.

For the last several years we’ve continued the tradition of the house making with our science group, but this year our little group has disbanded because the other members went to public school. The kids have been pretty disappointed to think of the ending of the tradition, so we invited another family from our Fun Friday co-op to carry on the tradition.

Our graham cracker houses are pretty simple. You need some standard graham crackers, icing, and lots of candy for trimming. In my teaching days, the kids drank milk out of small cartons from the lunch room. We would use the empty, washed out cartons as a form, sticking the crackers to the outside. Now we don’t drink milk from those cartons, so we’ve devised a different strategy. We stick a bottom cracker to a plate as a base, then we stick together the four walls and two slanted crackers as a roof. This year, I bought some gluten free crackers for Kathryne. Her house ended up looking more like a log cabin.

My friend who came to do houses with us this year had a great idea. She added some cream of tartar to the icing before the kids used it. It really helped the icing to harden and hold things together better. It did make the icing taste salty when the kids tried to eat it. But it was great for building. We used store bought icing, but after mixing in the cream of tartar we put it in ziploc bags and snipped the end off to make a bag for piping.

We like to use a variety of candy for the house’s features. This year I found some yummy Andes mint baking pieces that made really good paving stones for a walkway.

The houses are always a big hit, but the best part for the kids is getting to eat all of the candy. Sometimes the houses don’t last very long.

Our houses are pretty much demolished now. The candy (and sometimes the graham crackers) were excitedly munched. But the fun memories remain, and we will look forward to making houses again next year.

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