Making decorated gingerbread men and elaborate gingerbread houses is a thrill for children and create treasured holiday memories for the kids and the adults who help, whether that's Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa, or a team of these special people.
Moisture and humidity are the worst enemies (other than nibbling children) of gingerbread cookies and houses. Here's how to keep them tasting great and looking perfect throughout the holiday season.
Gingerbread cookies bring delight to kids of all ages. For the best outcome, use the same types of candy and frosting to decorate them as you would for a house. Smaller bits of candy, like chocolate chips, licorice bites and strings, gumdrops, red hots, and sprinkles fit gingerbread people the best. Vanilla frosting is handy for outlining the cookies and it tastes yummy on gingerbread.
It's relatively easy to store gingerbread cookies and decorated gingerbread people. Place cookies in a covered jar or tin or wrap in plastic or foil and keep in a cool, dry place. Gingerbread people require a bigger space and more careful wrapping because of their limbs. If you don't have a big enough jar or tin, make a tent of aluminum foil. Make sure that the foil does not touch the tops so the decorations stay intact. Cookies and gingerbread people will stay soft a long time if they are stored correctly.
Decorated gingerbread people can double as holiday decorations if you store them in a big and attractive glass jar. The jar must have a lid, which you can then tie ribbons around. Add fresh winter greenery for a special touch that also adds a bit of delicious holiday scent and you'll have a beautiful cookie-based scene.
If you want to keep a gingerbread house looking perfect throughout the holiday season, display it in a cool, dry place. Covering it at night with plastic wrap seals out moisture, dust, bugs, and other errant inedibles. Properly sealed and protected, you might be able to keep a gingerbread house looking good up to a year.
If you are okay with making your house a non-edible creation, spray it with a clear lacquer, which is available at craft and hardware stores. You might need several coats for maximum protection. This will protect the house, but once the spray has been applied, do not eat the house or the decorations.
Gingerbread Cookie and House Decorations
Decorations are only limited by your imagination. Try gumdrops, chocolate chips, peppermints, candy swirl sticks, licorice, M&M's, Snow-Caps, Red Hots, silver dragees, nonpareils, sprinkles, colored sugars, Necco's (good for roof), Frosted Shredded Mini-Wheats or Wheat Chex (good for a thatched-roof look), candied cherries and fruits, Tootsie Rolls (good for fences and tree trunks), raisins, nuts, mini-cookies, wafer cookies, popcorn, cranberries, and animal crackers. There are so many creative ways to use food items as decorations. For inspiration, look online and try to recreate your favorite gingerbread finds. Or, put out a wide variety of sweet treat toppings and let your kids decorate to their heart's content.