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Create a Life-Size Gingerbread House!

By Brenda Ponnay

A Gingerbread House You Can Get Inside of!
By Brenda Ponnay

Gingerbread House!

Making a gingerbread cookie house can be a bit of a PITA. (I don’t mean a sandwich with hummus and sprouts…more like a Pain In The…well, you know where.) First there’s the mixing with sticky molasses, then there’s cutting perfectly square walls that bake into uneven trapezoids. Then there’s the gloopy icing that runs all over the place and only holds when you don’t want it to. Don’t even get me started on trying to position everything with soup cans and cutting the gumdrops into slivers. Imagine me acting like a mouse stuck in a glue trap and you’ll pretty much get an idea of how my gingerbread-cookie-house project went down.

Making a cardboard gingerbread house is definitely more my style. They don’t call me the “cardboard whisperer” for nothing. It was really easy, actually. To start, you’ll need two large boxes big enough to crawl into. You might also want a small box if you want to add a fancy window box for flowers. You’ll need some paint in gingerbread-house colors (I opted for brown, white, pink and green) and a hot-glue gun (for adult sue only!) to glue your candy pieces on. It’s a cinch.

Mr. Prototype

First you need to make a plan. We decided to keep it simple. For kicks we made a cardboard model. You don’t need to do this but drawing out your ideas will definitely help and get you in the mood. We made a cardboard gingerbread man too. He might not be very tasty but he sure is cute!

Now it’s time to cut the big boxes. Break out the box cutter and make sure all little fingers are safely out of the way.

how to make a gingerbread box house out of cardboard

I actually had two different sized big boxes. One was 20×20 and the other was 24×24. I used the larger one for the roof so it would have an overhang. I cut the bottom first. I cut a triangle out of two of the top opposite closure flaps to create a gable. The remaining flaps won’t be big enough to reach the top of your gable triangle but that won’t matter because you’ll cover them with your roof piece.

Then I cut a rounded door (be sure to score the folding side so the door opens evenly) and two capital “I”-shaped windows on either side that opened into shutters. On the other side I made a small rounded window and cut a hole to stick my small box into for the window box.

I collapsed the larger box and cut it in half (along one long-ways fold) so it could sit like an “A” shape on top of the bottom box. Then I taped the two boxes together from inside the house with strong duct tape. I trimmed off the excess roof, leaving enough for an over-hang that I would later scallop for that “gingerbread” look. With the leftover half of the big box, I cut out shapes for round candies, some gum drops, a gingerbread man and a couple of candy canes. (I may have used some extra cardboard that we had lying around so if you run short, grab another box.)

getting started

Then we painted! This was the fun part. Who says two-year-olds are too little to paint? (FYI– we used house paint BUT water-based children’s paint is the safest option.) We did this at my friend’s house and the whole family pitched in. It was great fun.

happy painters a little dab here

A paint roller is an excellent investment. It made painting the base brown color go quickly without any drips or streaking. I let the little ones fill in the edges (and pretty much anywhere they wanted) with smaller brushes.

adding sprinkles

After the house was painted brown and put safely away to dry, we broke out the other colors and had a blast painting the bigger-than-life candies. My daughter and her friend especially enjoyed adding the “sprinkles.” A swirl here and a dab there and we were done! Then I chased all the kids away so I could add the white-paint icing detail and glue everything onto the house without anybody getting burned by the scary hot glue gun (again, for use by a responsible adult only). I wanted to add yarn strings to the round lollypop shapes but my daughter did away with that idea with one guitar-string-like pluck. It didn’t matter in the end. The round candies looked like peppermint star candies and turned out just fine. Almost good enough to eat!

peek heart

Front view.

back view

Side view. Oops, I lied. I didn’t put the shutter windows on opposite sides. But it really doesn’t matter. Just go with the flow. Kids will love it no matter how you much you stray from the plan.

taking pictures of us taking pictures

The other side with the optional pop-out flower box.

I don't fit

And lastly, me, not fitting very well. Perhaps a height-restriction sign might be a nice addition.

Find more Christmas Crafts here!

About the Author

Brenda Ponnay

Brenda Ponnay is a stealthy secret agent who juggles parenthood to her adorable daughter by day and freelance graphic design/illustration by night. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, mak...

Brenda Ponnay is a stealthy secret agent who juggles parenthood to her adorable daughter by day and freelance graphic design/illustration by night. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of cardboard boxes or just doing the laundry with flair, Brenda Ponnay has learned that what really makes her happy is being creative every single day.

You can read about all her crazy adventures on her personal blog: Secret Agent Josephine.

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  • sock mom

    November 28, 2008 at 11:37 am

    you have outdone yourself, Brenda! You look like Alice outgrowing the house in the last photo 🙂

  • Pictou

    November 28, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Now I feel guilty for sending three huge Amazon boxes to the recycler! Oh. I remember why, I don’t have any little ones. 🙁

  • bethany

    November 28, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Love it! If this gets me out of making the gooey-sticky kind, which they still want, I’ll be ecstatic :). I’d MUCH rather deal with stepping around cardboard in our small apt. than dealing with sugar-hyped up boys in that same small space.

  • Lori

    November 28, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    ha!! this is awesome! it reminds me of the little temporary house they used to set up on the courthouse lawn for Santa Claus. :^)

  • Mrs. Wilson

    November 28, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Oh my goodness. That looks like SO much fun. The next time we get some big boxes, I’m definitely doing that. Except it would be so much better in California heat!!
    Your creativity never ceases to amaze me.

  • nadine AKA scarbiedoll

    November 28, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Brenda you are my hero. If only the weather in Toronto could facilitate this project, I might actually consider it. You are mega talented.

  • anne

    November 28, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Oh my word!! I love this!! Can’t wait until my Bug is big enough for a fun project like this! 🙂

  • Susan

    November 29, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Thank you so much..too cool..I’m a nurse looking for a creative ginger bread house for work..This is very “do able”!!!
    Merry Christmas!!

  • Kim

    November 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    What a great idea. My daughter would have so much fun. Thanks for sharing this idea.

  • Neil

    November 29, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    SAJ — sooo cool! I want you as my new Mom.

  • CaraM - TheHouseholdHelper

    November 29, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    oh this is so darn cute and it looks like you had fun!
    Thanks for the idea.

  • lesly k

    November 30, 2008 at 12:02 pm


  • Allison Wonder

    December 5, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Wow- what a great project! The weather’s too wet here to do this outside, but maybe we’ll do an un-painted version in the basement and paint it later.
    I knew I saved those moving boxes for something! 😀

  • Amber

    December 10, 2008 at 12:52 am

    This is so awsome.I have been looking all night for a cool gingerbread house idea for my 8 year old daughters school project,think we found one..thankx so much.
    Amber and Taylor

  • julia

    December 14, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Hi- look for this to be featured tomorrow on Ohdeedoh at 11 am.
    Thanks! Julia

  • Trish, Dublin, Ireland

    February 27, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Fantastic project, can’t wait to get stuck in when the weather improves – my three year old will love it – and I think I will too! 🙂

  • ulalia

    November 17, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    we’ve been looking all over for ideas, I love what you’ve done! it’s simple , inexpensive and creative…love it!
    all the way from HAWAII, aloha and mahalo!

  • Jen

    December 1, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    This is great! I googled cardboard gingerbread house to research ideas for my teen group for our December meeting. They’re going to love this!
    Boston, MA

  • Joyce

    November 29, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I love this.! Not sure if it will hold up in rain and snow in order to leave it up all season. Will have to think about it but love the idea!