About 20 years ago, on the first Friday of December I unknowingly created a tradition that was to haunt me for the rest of my life. I made houses out of graham crackers, bought candy, and invited the kids’ friends over to decorate the “gingerbread” houses.
Since then I have only missed one party – and that was because of tremendous upheaval in my life. I hosted the 1998 party while in active labor with Sean – giving birth to him at home about 4 hours later. I have hosted parties with 30 children and I have hosted parties where the only ones in attendance were my own kids. Each one has been amazingly fun, but most of all, each has created a special memory for the kids that attended. A lot of those kids are parents now.
And it isn’t just little kids either. My 30 year old still decorates a graham cracker gingerbread house with as much candy as she can get on it when she comes with my grandchildren.
It isn’t difficult. It takes a little time to get the technique down and you will end up with a lot of cracker scraps and unusable crackers that you can use for crumb crusts and other things. You might also want to save up. This year my candy bill for 20 houses was close to $200.00. Now every time I go to the grocery store, the bag boy voted most likely to smoke pot gives me a thumbs up and a knowing smile. Because really, unless you had a severe case of the munchies why else would you buy an entire cartload of candy?
What You’ll Need
- Honey Maid Graham crackers – this is the only brand that I have found that still makes the rectangular crackers. Squares won’t work.
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Egg whites
- Paper plates
- Children of all ages
Cut the Graham Crackers to Shape
You will need four rectangular graham crackers for each house. One rectangle for each of the ends, one rectangle cut into two squares for the sides, and one rectangle cut into squares for the roof. Cutting the graham crackers can be a bit stressful and the break pretty easily. Be sure you get a couple of extra boxes just in case.
A wood cutting board is the best surface for cutting. Use a sharp knife and cut the top end of each rectangle into a point. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
Once you have two pointed rectangles, set them aside with two rectangles cut in half to make squares.Continue on until you have all of the pieces cut and stacked together.
Make Royal Icing
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- pinch of cream of tartar
- Rinse your mixing bowl with lemon juice or white vinegar.
- Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until they are foamy.
- Add the sugar and lemon juice.
- Beat at high speed until thick and fluffy.
- You may need to add a little water if it is too stiff or a little sugar if it is too thin. It should have the texture of old fashioned paste.
Assemble the Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses
Smear a thick bead of icing down one side of the pointed piece.
Spread beads of icing on either side of the other pointed graham cracker. Gently push it on to the open end of the house.
Smear icing on 3 sides of the square.
Press it on the angles side of the tall graham cracker. Hold for a few seconds.
Repeat with the last square.
Using icing fill in any cracks or weak areas.
Let stand at room temperature overnight.
Set out the candy in pretty dishes, muffin pans, or whatever holds it and makes it easily accessible.
You’ll probably need to make more Royal Icing. Keep it covered with a damp paper towel when not in use so it doesn’t dry out.
Put a glob of “glue ” on each plate.
Show the kids how to add candy to their graham cracker houses using the icing as glue. Caution them to be gentle!
That’s it. Let them decorate to their hearts’ content and be sure to “ooooh” and “ahhhhh” over the results. Try not to coach them but be there to help if needed.
Most of all – take lots of pictures.
Need more inspiration? Here’s a gingerbead house book with lots of ideas! (affiliate link)
All images on this page
© 2012 Marye Audet
Please do not copy.