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in the studio :: gingerbread houses

Welcome to In The Studio, a place to show off your studio and meet some great artists! Can you believe Christmas is less than 2 weeks away?? Everyday I change the number on my Christmas countdown chalkboard and can’t believe how fast the time is flying by.

gingerbread house

Last weekend we did our annual Christmas activity of decorating a gingerbread house. I searched high and low here in S. Africa to find a ready made kit. I came up empty. None of us could bear the thought of skipping this tradition, so I spent a Saturday rolling out gingerbread dough and baking walls, chimneys, and roofs. It’s a lot of work! I used the gingerbread recipe from It’s SO good. I cut pieces for the Swedish Gingerbread House and the Snow Swept Gingerbread Cottage from Martha Stewart. We had a little gingerbread village going on!


Now if you’re new to gingerbread house making, might I make a few suggestions…

1. Roll the dough thin! The first time I made a homemade gingerbread house I didn’t roll it thin enough and the roof was way too heavy for the walls to hold.

2. Use royal icing for the “snow” and caramel syrup for the “glue.” Royal icing doesn’t work well for holding the house together. (Side note: I didn’t have meringue powder for the royal icing, and it turned out just fine.)


3. A word on caramel syrup…it’s extremely hot once heated, so be careful! When you’re cooking it, it will reach a stage where it looks like sugar again, dry and white crystals. Keep cooking. Eventually it will break down and turn to a dark brown syrup. The first time I made it I thought I did something wrong. I didn’t realize it was part of the process!

miss emma’s welcome sign

4. Bake gingerbread men, trees, snowmen, etc. while you’re baking the house so that you have “accessories” to go with. Also, be sure to buy a colorful variety of candies. I didn’t realize that peppermints (a staple with our gingerbread houses) are hard to find (or maybe non-existent) in S. Africa. Instead, we used colorful licorice, endearments, marshmallows, skittles, blue lollipops, and taffy.

5. Finally, know that gingerbread houses don’t last in the Southern Hemisphere! We usually leave ours up for a couple of weeks, and the kids have actually never been tempted to eat it. The day after we decorated ours, it started melting! Since it was edible, I told the kids they could just eat it. What they didn’t finish went to the pigs. Sugar high for all!

joshua’s snowman perched on the roof

So, do you make gingerbread houses at Christmas time? What fun crafting ventures have you been up to lately? I can’t wait to see!

Before I jet out of here, I wanted to let you know about an awesome giveaway over at Today’s Mama! I’ve teamed up with to offer a giveaway of TWO maps, one for the kids and one for the adults! I love maps and especially the vintage National Geographic map offered up for giveaway. It’s open to U.S. addresses only, so if you fit that criteria, head over and enter!

Now it’s your turn! Remember your “studio” can be anywhere. Let’s celebrate each other’s creativity by linking up and visiting as many as the other studios as you can. Check out the about post for more info and don’t forget to grab the In The Studio button!

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No Comments

  • Reply
    Elisa | blissfulE
    December 13, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Fancy! I really like how it turned out.

    Beyond melting, I would be scared of the bugs finding it here in Australia. Need to start some "Christmas in July" traditions…

  • Reply
    Suz and Allan
    December 13, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    That's a very creative gingerbread house! I'm sure you guys had a blast building it and decorating it.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2013 at 4:13 am

    I love it — so creative and intricately designed!! My husband just baked our house today — plans to decorate it this weekend!

  • Reply
    Linda Stoll
    December 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Oh what fun you've created this week! Such holiday delight, Jen!


  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Your gingerbread village looks so charming – and delicious too

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