Traditions: Gingerbread Houses

As I wrote in Finding Belonging and Community in Actions Rather than Things, traditions are of great value.

We discuss the style of house we want to
make, we draw the patterns out on paper.

Part of being a minimalist, means I don’t want to store holiday decorations all year. So, each year we decorate our tree with paper snowflakes, which get thrown out with the tree at the end of the season.
We also make gingerbread houses to display and enjoy. It does take time, but it’s a wonderful time when it is spent with friends and family!
And if you need a gingerbread men recipe, this one is incredible! Not minimalistic, but the most delicious gingerbread cookie ever.

Makes me miss eating gluten.

Tape the paper together to make sure
the proportions are correct.

1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup butter
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg

Cut out the pattern with pizza cutter or knife

Melt butter in boiling water. Add all the other ingredients, mix well. Chill the dough for 2 hours. Roll out and cut into shapes. Bake gingerbread house pieces on parchment paper for easy removal.  Bake at 350 degree for 8-10 minutes. Cool and decorate with frosting. Makes 24 cookies or one small gingerbread house. (I typically make a double batch for one of our houses.)

For a house, cut out:
4 wall pieces
2 roof pieces
4 chimney pieces

Glue the walls onto foil covered cardboard

If you wish to have “stained glass” windows, crush some hard candy and place in window spaces before baking.
Allow gingerbread house parts to air dry on the counter for 2 or 3 days before assembling.

Glue Frosting

3 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
Beat egg whites till they are stiff, continue beating and sprinkle in the cream of tartar, then mix in the powdered sugar slowly until it reaches the consistency that you need.
Put the frosting in a piping bag. “Glue” the walls to a foil covered cardboard and to each other. Use jars to hold them while they dry and then glue roof/chimney after a few hours. When the glue is dry and the house feels sturdy it is ready to decorate! It’s all edible… but we’ve never wanted to eat it, or at least I haven’t!
We let it sit out on display for the month of December.
Decor ideas

Candy of any kind
Gum for shutters
Necco wafers for stone walkways or chimneys
Waffle ice cream cones for trees or castle tops
And if you don’t wish to have artificial colors and HFCS on your lovely house go for these options:
Coffee beans
Shredded coconut
Nuts & seeds
Dried fruit of any kind
Legumes, lentils & rice
Cinnamon sticks
Uncooked pastas

Here are a few close ups of other years:

The other side of our gingerbread house (not shown) has a
pink popcorn ball embedded in the roof.
Meteorite shower, I believe it was.
These were a little more difficult to glue together, being crooked, but we enjoyed admiring them!
Our gingerbread hobbit hole!
Are you making a gingerbread house this year? With just the family? Inviting some friends? Tell me about it, I would love to hear!
Another fun treat for the holiday: Grinch Kabobs

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Anonymous on 12/21/2013 at 12:21 am

    can you please put up a gingerbread hobbit house template that you used please?

    • Rachel on 12/21/2013 at 3:03 am

      I’m sorry- I don’t have one. I draw in on paper, cut it out, tape it together to make sure it fits, cut the tape and use the paper pieces as patterns and then throw them away. We ended up using cardboard for the hill/roof because the gingerbread didn’t hold up there.

  2. Nancy Penfield on 12/11/2021 at 9:48 pm

    Watching your family assemble and decorate the gingerbread houses was really nice. I have never made one before in my life, but watching you all made me want to try it.

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