Best Gingerbread House Ideas (With Health-ish Candy Suggestions!)

Best Gingerbread House Ideas (With Health-ish Candy Suggestions!)

To have a former sugar addict host a gingerbread house is probably like a recovering alcoholic leading a wine tasting, but, after much urging from my daughter Paloma, I went ahead and threw a gingerbread house decorating party with about a dozen kids.

In this article, I’ll show you how to host one yourself—without going crazy or serving up too much sugar to your young ones.

Making Your Own Gingerbread House

The best gingerbread kit is the one you don’t make yourself. I’m kinda kidding, but it will add a lot of work to make each house from scratch. But if you have a smaller party (or just your family) and feel inspired, go for it!

Here’s a classic recipe for your gingerbread house. Or, you can try this gluten free recipe as an option. Or, I love this oat flour, gluten free graham cracker recipe, which would work well. You can use these to construct your walls, floor, and roof. You’ll need to roll out the dough, form it into big rectangle pieces, and bake. (Here’s a guide with dimensions for your house.)

To hold your house pieces together, you’ll want to whip up a batch of royal icing, which is a combination of egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar. (You can find a recipe here.)

The Best Gingerbread Kit

Because I was buying supplies for a dozen kids, I went with pre-made house kits.

  • I recommend the pre-assembled kits versus the ones you have to glue together the pieces of the house yourself. Be sure to double check the box description, as it can be confusing!
  • Buy them at a store like Michaels, Walmart, Target, etc. The reviews on Amazon are terrible, because they usually break during shipping.

My local Whole Foods had eight houses available, so I grabbed those and then bought a few extra at Michael’s.

The Best Gingerbread House Kit

We also decorated gingerbread men cookies, which was fun.

Gingerbread man

Decorating Logistics

Now for the fun part: decorating the houses!

Many gingerbread house kits come with special icing that hold or “glue” the candy decorations nicely. They usually also come with a piping tip, so you can make fun flourishes.

Since my Whole Foods houses didn’t come with frosting, I had to make my own. I normally would have made royal icing (see recipe above), but I would have had to purchase pounds and pounds of sugar to make enough. Since that wasn’t happening, I looked into store-bought options.

I ended up using Wilton decorating icing in “stiff” consistency, which worked well to hold the candy decorations.

You can plop this stuff into a reusable piping bag and use this popular tip—it gives you a beautiful and fancy look. If you are having a large party, aim to have one bag per 1-2 houses.

Traditional “royal icing” dries quickly and dries hard. This means you have to ice only a portion of the house (say one side of the roof) and decorate before moving onto another section.

I found the Wilton decorating icing listed above wasn’t prone to drying, so I didn’t have to be so diligent. In fact, next time, I think I would get a few helpers and ice all of the houses right before arrival. This way the kids only have to decorate versus wait for helpers to ice portions of the house.

I also didn’t put this Wilton icing into a piping bag, but instead smoothed it onto the house using a special knife. It still looked nice, but was much, much easier!

Now for the candy…

You can make your gingerbread houses as “healthy” or not healthy as you’d like. I went with about 50 percent healthier candy and 50 percent traditional candy, because I wanted to use iconic things like gumdrops.

Here are some natural candies that work well…

Surf Sweets Organic Watermelon Rings
Surf Sweets Organic Watermelon Rings

I love these bright red candy rings that use low carb sugars.

— Check it Out —
Surf Sweets Organic Watermelon Rings
Tree Hugger Fruit Bubble Gum
Tree Hugger Fruit Bubble Gum

We used this bubble gum that came in pretty colors.

— Check it Out —
Tree Hugger Fruit Bubble Gum
Mixed Berry Flavored Twists
Mixed Berry Flavored Twists

This organic licorice works great for lining your house.

— Check it Out —
Mixed Berry Flavored Twists
Mini Cookies Gluten & Dairy Free Ginger Snapz
Mini Cookies Gluten & Dairy Free Ginger Snapz

Mini gluten-free gingersnaps for snacking decorating.

— Check it Out —
Mini Cookies Gluten & Dairy Free Ginger Snapz
Sun Tropics Original Rolled Coconut Wafers - Best Gingerbread House Ideas
Sun Tropics Original Rolled Coconut Wafers

These natural cookie rolls look great on the roof.

— Check it Out —
Sun Tropics Original Rolled Coconut Wafers - Best Gingerbread House Ideas
YumEarth Organic Mini Candy Canes
YumEarth Organic Mini Candy Canes

And these are cute mini candy canes.

— Check it Out —
YumEarth Organic Mini Candy Canes
Organic Hard Candies, Starlight Mints
Organic Hard Candies, Starlight Mints

No gingerbread house is complete without some peppermint.

— Check it Out —
Organic Hard Candies, Starlight Mints
Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans
Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans

These jelly beans add a lot of fun.

— Check it Out —
Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans
UNREAL Chocolate Variety Pack
UNREAL Chocolate Variety Pack

These are a great M & M substitute and the pretty colors are made from natural sources.

— Check it Out —
UNREAL Chocolate Variety Pack
Non-GMO and Gluten Free Pretzels
Non-GMO and Gluten Free Pretzels

Gluten-free, whole grain pretzels, which work great as house siding.

— Check it Out —
Non-GMO and Gluten Free Pretzels

Muffin tins made great candy holders

gingerbread house candy in muffin tin

Our event was super fun!

Here are some of our kids’ creations.

four gingerbread houses

Finished Gingerbread Houses

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

5 Comments

  1. Hi Genevieve,
    I want to do this with my kids, but I’m still confused about them. Do the houses get eaten? I wouldn’t want my kids to eat the Wilton icing for sure….but if I buy all organic candy and it just stays on the house that seems like a waste of money. What’s your reasoning with the icing/candy? What did the kids eat at the party? Are the houses just for decoration? Please do share. 🙂

    • My kids ate the little candies off of the gingerbread house but not really the frosting or house itself. You can easily make “royal frosting” (link in post) yourself, which has simple ingredients and is fine in moderation. Because I was having more than a dozen kids, I didn’t have the bandwidth to make my own frosting. You could also try Simple Mills frosting instead of the Wilton one as an experiment and see if it works. Hope that helps!

      • We used Simple Mills icing but it didn’t work very well. Next year I’ll make my own royal icing.

  2. What did you do with the gingerbread house after the party? Did you let your kids eat it? Just curious!

    • I let them eating the candies off here and there. They probably had about 2 TB worth of candy. Lol. It was super fun to do!


Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required *

*