I am a guy, so it won’t come as a surprise that I like to build stuff. I am not alone. It’s part of our male DNA. It’s something that is passed on from generation to generation. We like to tinker, put stuff together, figure out how it works, play with cool tools, and conquer challenges. Something else I like to do – spend time with my kids. But I will be honest – I am not as patient or as selfless with my time as my wife. I want to find something they like doing but I like to do as well – yeah, I guess that makes me just a really old kid. So, I am always on the look-out for something fun to do with my children.
As luck would have it, our creative department was working on some dad-friendly instructions for making a gingerbread house – you know, the kind with lots of pictures and few words. Yeah, I am one of those guys who doesn’t like reading directions (or asking for them either). I figured I had to give it a try. Not only could I have fun building something with my daughter, but I might be able to teach her something without her even knowing (that sneaky stuff my parents used to do with me)!
It was a blast – for me and my daughter. And guess what – it looked awesome!
So Dads, here’s everything you need to know about building a gingerbread house (and having fun with it). Moms, if you’re reading this, print the instructions and give them to your husband. Then go do something for yourself for a couple of hours. He and the kids will have an great time, and you will get some well-deserved “me time”.
Stuff you should know.
Buy a kit. Wilton makes a bunch of different gingerbread house kits that you build and then decorate. The difference among them is the candy and decorations inside. Not so good at construction? No worries. Wilton also makes pre-assembled gingerbread house kits. Trust me, it won’t affect your fun!
Plan your lot. You’re not just accommodating a house, you’re going to want a yard! You’re going to make some trees and yard decorations, right? Cut a piece of sturdy cardboard (corrugated, not a cereal box) to the size you want your yard and wrap it with foil. Or use a platter or cake board.
Sort your gingerbread pieces. Figure out which rectangular pieces are for the roof (larger) and which are the side walls (smaller). The front/back pieces are obvious, right? They have the peaks.
Make your mortar. To stick the walls together and the house in place, use the icing that comes with the kit. (It’s like Royal Icing, perfect for your wanna-be princess!). It should be the consistency of toothpaste. It will dry hard like cement.
Framing your house. Square the walls as you go. Brace them with a can of soup, a jar of pickles, water bottles, something that can support the walls while your mortar hardens. Use one on the inside and one on the outside of each wall if you need it. This is not the job for an empty soda can or a box of macaroni and cheese. Let the house set for an hour before roofing.
Roofing your house. You want to support the bottom edges of the roof pieces as the mortar hardens. Water bottles with grooves are good, just rest the roof edge in one of the grooves. Or boxes of mac and cheese or packages of ramen noodles might be the right height to provide support.
Decorating your house. Don’t decorate the house until the icing hardens or it might collapse and that will mean tears (maybe you, maybe the kids)! Put in a Christmas movie, play a game, have lunch, put up Christmas lights, build a snowman — whatever buys you the hour or two until it’s solid.
Constructing yard decorations. The stuff you need isn’t in the kit, but a lot of it is either in your pantry or easily purchased at the store. Unless otherwise specified, you’ll use icing to join materials.
Gingerbread House Project Instructions
Download the Gingerbread House Project Instructions as a PDF.
When you are done, tweet or post some pictures of your amazing creation – use the hashtag #wiltondad so that other guys can see the awesomeness of what you’ve done (and shame your friends by showing what a superior Dad you are). It’s a great memory to share with your children and a wonderful tradition to start. I can tell you from experience, it won’t be too long before your kids are making you drop them off three blocks from school (I still try to convince myself I am the cool parent).