Use an easy free template for a gingerbread house to make your own gingerbread house from scratch. Make a traditional gingerbread house, or a cabin or a-frame house.
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Basically, ever since I was born… we have had a family tradition to decorate gingerbread houses. My lovely mother would make about 14 gingerbread houses from scratch every year. I think that practically makes her a saint.. have you tried it? I have, and just making 4 or 5, was HARD work!
Since I’ve had little babies (crap, they aren’t really babies anymore…they grow TOO fast), I’ve been a little more relaxed about homemade vs store bought. For example, last year we bought some at Ikea for about 2 bucks a pop. Worth every penny!
This year I decided to buy them again. Only I bought a little Wilton mini gingerbread town kit from Walmart. Each had 4 houses, so we bought 2 to make a whole town!
Gingerbread Village Kits
Make less holiday stress and build a whole village from just one premade gingerbread house kit — great for families so kids can build and decorate their own gingerbread house. Plus, check out all these fun gingerbread kits I found at Joann’s!
It is amazing how much easier it is… next year, I think it would be fun to make them again from scratch, but I will tell you how I feel then! We can always build the kits and enjoy eating the gingerbread as drop cookies instead.
What’s important to me is the tradition we have together, and I love that the easy gingerbread kits can maintain the tradition *and* my sanity as a busy mom.
Printable Free Templates for Gingerbread Houses
We loved these tiny houses so much that I had Justin draw up some free printable fancy gingerbread house templates so you could use our recipe (below) to build your own! He is so awesome!
Just click the button below to download the PDF templates.
The free template for gingerbread house patterns are not to be used for sale, please do not repost these anywhere.
Gingerbread House Shapes
Justin drew up three different free templates for gingerbread houses for you.
A traditional large cottage with a peaked roof:
A more rustic slant top cabin:
A darling little A-frame gingerbread house template! This one is so fun to decorate all the roof space.
How to Make a Gingerbread House Template
If you’re looking to build a custom gingerbread house, here are a few tips for making a gingerbread house template:
- Choose simple shapes and keep corners square. This ensures that sides are symmetrical and the house can stand.
- Factor in the width of the baked gingerbread. To be strong, pieces are generally going to be 1/4 – 3/8 inch thick so make sure your walls, side pieces, roof, roof overhang, etc account for that.
- Keep windows and doors supported by enough dough around them (and cut out holes for windows and doors *after* placing the dough on the baking sheet, or cut and bake the whole sheet of dough in the pan like Jenny does.)
Gingerbread house cookie cutters are a great option, too!
How to Use a Gingerbread House Template
- Cut out the printable gingerbread house template pieces with scissors.
- If you’ll be using the gingerbread house shapes for multiple houses, be sure to print on thick paper or even a glossy photo paper.
- Once you’ve rolled your gingerbread house dough to an even thickness, either on the counter or cutting board or right in the pan like Jenny does, place the template pieces carefully on top.
- Cut out the pieces with a sharp knife, keeping the knife as perpendicular to the dough as possible for straight edges.
- Transfer the cut gingerbread to the pan (or leave it in the pan if you’re following Jenny’s method) to bake.
- After baking, trim the edges as needed (using a knife or kitchen scissors) and let the gingerbread sit at least overnight to harden. Soft gingerbread is delicious but hard gingerbread makes the best houses!
The Best Gingerbread House Recipe
This recipe has been used in my family for years! This gingerbread dough bakes into either sturdy shapes for for building gingerbread houses or delicious easy chewy gingerbread drop cookies, too.
Read more tips for baking gingerbread houses and try Jenny’s Das Pfefferkuchenhauschen Never-Fail Gingerbread Recipe.
Mama’s Gingerbread House Recipe
- 1/2 c butter softened
- 1 cup Crisco shortening
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1/2 c molasses
- 2 t baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4+ cups all purpose flour (add more to knead and roll out dough)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients: baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger salt and 4 cups flour. Stir with a whisk, and set aside.
- Cream the butter, shortening and sugar together. Add the eggs and molasses, combine. Now add the dry ingredients to the wet, about a cup at a time till completely incorporated.
- On a clean counter surface, spread out about 1/2 cup flour, pour the dough onto the flour and knead in more flour until it is a good consistence for rolling. Use a rolling pin to roll to a 1/4 inch thickness, and cut out the shapes.
- Place with just a little room for each shape on the cookie sheet bake for 9 minutes, keep a close eye so they don’t burn, if you roll them out too thinly they can!)
How to Build Gingerbread Houses
We have a whole post about how to build gingerbread houses!
You’ll want sturdy gingerbread with clean edges.
And that means trimming the edges of home-baked gingerbread house pieces when they’re fresh from the oven. Keep your template pieces so you can trim them easily.
For a gingerbread kit, use a long sharp knife to cut apart the pieces and then file off any rough edges using a small knife or even a zester.
You’ll need good frosting to glue the house together.
There are dozens of gingerbread house frosting recipes using eggw hites — my go-to is the Wilton Meringue Powder Recipe. It’s easy to make and the icing is like super strong glue that dries quickly and also makes great snowy icing effects! One small tub makes plenty for our family gingerbread building.
If you buy a kit — do yourself a favor and make this frosting instead. Use the frosting from the kit to decorate the house, not to glue it together.
You’ll need candy and decorating supplies.
One thing we do really love about the gingerbread house kits is that they come with the tiny fun candies, like the little Christmas light candies and holly berry candies. (You can sometimes find extras in the same aisle as the kits, like this candy variety.)
We also like to pick up:
- hard clear candies like Jolly Ranchers or Lifesavers (to make stained glass windows)
- Pez – the tiny rectangles are great for bricks, fences, and other accents
- M&Ms — red, white, and green, and great for gingerbread house lights, doorknobs, etc
- rope licorice – outlines and details so well
- marshmallows (large and mini) – to make snow piles and snowmen
- Nilla Wafers and wafer cookies
- candy canes (mini and regular)
- Smarties and Neccos
In the quest for fun that’s also NOT just sugary sweets, we also use some of these non-candy decorations for our gingerbread houses.
Non-Candy Alternatives for Decorating Gingerbread Houses
The gingerbread kits sometimes look and taste like cardboard (although I’ve never eaten a homemade gingerbread house, either!). So take a shortcut, skip the baking and use clean cardboard for building your houses (or trees, people, pets, fences, etc). Just apply frosting and have a hay day!
Clearly a cardboard gingerbread house is just to display… no baking, no eating, good holiday fun without the calories!
We love the elementary school graham cracker houses built around a milk carton, and graham crackers are a great way to add walkways, roof textures, or other elements to your gingerbread house and landscaping.
Breakfast cereals are fun additions, and a great snack for the littles to eat some as they decorate.
- Froot Loops and Cheerios both make great decor elements (or mini wreaths!) and shredded wheat,
- Shredded wheat looks like a thatched roof on your gingerbread house — and snow-covered, too, if you get the frosted shredded wheat.
- Wheat, Corn, or Rice Chex (or any other varieties) make great roof tiles.
- Golden Grahams look just like a terra cotta tile roof.
Pretzels sticks or rod pretzels are great for building fences, outlining walkways or doorways, or making your house look like a log cabin.
(I really wanna hear your ideas!!! Leave me a comment with other less sugar ideas!!)
Easy Cool Gingerbread House Ideas
The royal icing is white to look like snow — make it look even more fancy by sprinkling the house with powdered sugar! A bit of sugar in a duster or sieve makes it all magical.
Writing and Details
You can color the royal icing, of course, or buy these easy Cake Mate writing icing for super easy small-tip frosting tubes for small details or writing a house number or family name.
Stained Glass Windows
This is one of my favorite easy gingerbread house ideas! It looks difficult but it’s easy — just a few minutes and some hard candy (like Jolly Ranchers).
Then you’ll just cut a hole in the plate or cardboard directly under your house and add a small battery operated light to illuminate the colorful candy stained glass window.
Making Gingerbread Houses Fun for Kids and Easy for Parents
I’ve learned a few things, since I’ve become in charge of continuing on this gingerbread tradition in my own family.
- Making stained glass candy windows is the coolest. thing. ever! Totally worth the extra time and the kids think it’s magical. (Read how here.)
- Building on heavy duty paper platters (larger than plates) are fast and cute!
- You don’t need too much candy… ( I always buy too much!)
- Giving them away is more fun than eating them! (I have never eaten a gingerbread house… They are for display to me, so I don’t get that!)
- Let the kids eat some candy as you build gingerbread houses. It is much better then yelling at them the whole time, and it makes it fun for everyone.
- Buying kits can be a life saver! Enjoy the tradition without stressing about the time and effort baking.
What great ideas to you have to share?
Be sure to have fun with it! Creating with candy is so fun!!!
Remember to check out all our 12 Days of Christmas posts from this year and others!
More Family Christmas Traditions and Ideas:
- Christmas Cookie Decorating Party Ideas
- 25 Christmas Cookie Exchange Recipes
- How to Decorate a Christmas Tree on a Dollar Store Budget
First published 11 Dec 2013 // Updated 9 Dec 2022
Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.