Read This Before Building Your Next Gingerbread House

We hardly know which part of making a gingerbread house is more fun — constructing a dreamy fairytale cottage covered in gum drops and icing or eating the ingredients and decorations as we work. And while every gingerbread house creation is a unique work of art, and we'd never presume to tell you there's a "right" way or a "wrong" way to build one, there are some great tips out there for ensuring your project is the perfect combination of tasty, beautiful, and strong. We've collected some of them for your building and eating pleasure. So whether you're engaging in a gingerbread house contest, or just building one for the sake of family fun, these tips should serve you well.

First, it's a good idea to have a plan for what you want the house to look like. Knowing size, scale, and design will help ensure you make enough dough and have enough icing and other things you'll need (via The Spruce Eats). So whether you're following a design you found or creating something from your own imagination, figure out the dimensions and plans first to make sure you're prepared. Just like building a real house, it helps to have a blueprint before ordering lumber and beginning construction.

Tips for making the perfect gingerbread house

When you're making the dough, remember to use a recipe that's actually meant for house construction, not for soft, holiday cookies. Yes, the recipes are usually different (via The Spruce Eats). Also keep in mind that the dough is very sticky; if you keep the dough warm in a dutch oven until you're ready to knead it as some recipes suggest, make sure you spray the inside with nonstick spray (via Buzzfeed). This will ensure a mess-free process and prevent you from losing dough you need due to it sticking to the dutch oven. 

The next tip is about adhering the pieces of your house together. Because folks like to keep gingerbread houses edible, they often use frosting to stick the walls and roofs together rather than using real glue. But unfortunately, frosting isn't great at holding things together, especially in a house full of kids running around and bumping into things. Luckily, there's a solution. The Brown University School of Engineering hosts an annual gingerbread house contest, and Erica Kahn, a student, shared her deliciously-edible yet super glue-strong recipe for adhesive with NPR: melt caramel, gummy bears and marshmallow and mix together to create a sweets-based cement. Now that you have the dough and glue down, the rest is the fun part.