Gingerbread is a baked treat that dates back to the Middle Ages. It is thought to have first appeared in the U.S. in the nineteenth century, when the Swiss monks of St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana baked gingerbread on holidays, and gave it to the sick. Over the years, baking gingerbread cookies and building gingerbread houses developed into a popular American Christmas tradition.
"From very simple designs for busy moms and dads to challenging art projects for those artists among us, we've got it all. ... Let the decorating begin!!!" Celebrating Christmas offers a potpourri of gingerbread house advice, from how to plan a gingerbread party to recipes for gingerbread tree ornaments. Highlights are six gingerbread house blueprints (including a log cabin, chapel, country store and Victorian) although you will need to enlarge the patterns before using them
I'm trying really hard not to say "a picture is worth a thousand words," but if you are fishing for gingerbread inspiration, what better way to find it than at this collection of more than 600 gingerbread house photos? To find specific kinds of houses, you can search within the pool with the search function in the upper right-hand corner. You can find more gingerbread pix by following tags such as "gingerbread" or "gingerbreadhouse."
To add a little computer fun to today's topic, this pick is an online game. Decorate your virtual gingerbread house with the usual Candy and Icing, or go crazy with silly Food and Stuff such as a whole fish, a tennis ball, or alphabet blocks to spell out your name. Move items onto the house by clicking once to pick up, then again to release onto your house. Controls include Rotate, Resize, Flip, Start Over, and Print (so you can hang your finished creation on the refrigerator door.)
JustGingerbread.com is my pick of the week because of the simple printable patterns (in two sizes), abundance of building tips, and the illustrated step-by-step house assembly instructions. "For quick and easy gingerbread house patterns, print out the pattern pieces on paper or cardstock. For extra durability, cut out the pieces and trace them onto cardboard. Cereal boxes work great for this! Just cut open the cereal box, flatten, and then trace the pieces. Laminating the pieces will help them to last longer so you can use them year after year!"
This fourteen-page PDF from King Arthur Flour offers the most detailed gingerbread house building instructions I found online. It includes a printable pattern, oodles of photos, and tips you won't find anywhere else. For example, to create multi-colored stained glass panels, try melting hard candies in the oven. Or to create the look of window panes, paint diagonal muntins on gelatin sheets. And to help your gingerbread people keep their balance, attach mini-marshmallow kick-stands to their backs.