One of our favorite seasonal traditions is decorating a gingerbread house with the family. Some years we go all out and bake one from scratch. Other years we pick up a pre-made kit at the store. Either way, hands are sticky, hearts are full and memories are made. This year, we're giving the traditional gingerbread house a Go Organically "renovation" with fun swaps and alternative decorations that everyone will love. We're calling it the "Next-Gen Gingerbread House." Here's how it's done!
Step 1: Go House Hunting
First you'll need the gingerbread structure itself—meaning the walls, roof and doors. Your two options are baking and buying.
Find a basic gingerbread house recipe online, like this
one from The Food Network. It includes paper patterns for your
gingerbread house template so you'll know how big to make the walls, roof,
etc. It's easy to swap out any of the ingredients for organic versions,
such as organic butter or organic all-purpose flour.
- Buying: The holidays can be hectic, so if you can make things easier with a pre-made kit, why not? This one from IKEA* includes just the structure itself and lets you add whatever decorations you want. Better yet? It's only $3.99. Perfect! If you're not near an IKEA, any kit will do. Simply save any unused decorations or icing for other holiday baking projects.
Next you'll need to make a binder to hold the structure together. Traditional royal icing is made with confectioners' sugar, egg whites and vanilla extract, and you can find the instructions here. For a Next-Gen version, consider modifying the recipe with coconut confectioners' sugar and free range eggs. Or skip the royal icing altogether in favor of melted organic white chocolate. Use your "cement" of choice to assemble the house and let it sit for a bit while you gather your decorations.
Step 3: Decorate with the Unexpected
Now comes the fun part: decorating! While we love candy canes and gumdrops as much as the next person, there's something so elegant about a natural-looking gingerbread house adorned with nuts, popcorn and fresh herbs. A few ideas to get you started:
- Thatched roof: Use shredded wheat cereal to create a thatched roof. You can either apply whole pieces as shingles, or shred them with your hands and scatter them across the roof for a rustic effect.
- Pathway: Create a "stone path" leading up to the front door using a mix of almonds and walnuts.
- Windows: Outline your windows with pumpkin or sunflower seeds to mimic the look of a wooden frame.
- Wreath: Shape a wreath out of fresh thyme to hang on the front of the house.
- Pop of color: Use Go Organically Organic Fruit Snacks to add visual interest while keeping the rest of the look low key. Stick on a red door knob or outline the roof with a string of colorful holiday "lights."
*Note: Go Organically is not associated with IKEA.