How to Plan a Gingerbread House Party

It's that time of year to mull some cider and create tiny cookie houses with friends. Here's the plan!

Gingerbread houses are about as Christmassy as you can get. Of course, despite what Pinterest would like us to believe, few of us will achieve Architectural Digest-worthy abodes; most of us will employ a child or six to decorate the place and it’ll end up looking more like Dr. Seuss’ weekend cabin, and that’s OK.

The fun of creating gingerbread houses is that there are no rules. A chocolate sprinkle roof? Sure. Jelly bean landscaping? Absolutely. It all makes sense at a gingerbread-house decorating party.

So put your guest list together and we’ll help you with the invites, menu, decorations and music. You just bring the gumdrops. If you’re short on decorating ideas—head over to our complete guide to all things gingerbread.

Get Inspired!
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Spread the Word

gingerbread decorating partyevite

How do you invite someone to your epic gingerbread house party? An e-vite like this “Party in the House” one would do, but so would these cute ones from Etsy, which you can either send as a digital invite or on printed card stock.

Want to make the invites really match the theme? Why not make invitation gingerbread cookies and print the date and time in frosting on top?

Plan a Warm-Your-Soul Menu

Think comfort food appetizers that make guests feel cozy and warm. Our suggestions: Start with Warm Spiced Nuts for a toasty snack with just a hint of spice. A Garlic-Parmesan Cheese Ball is always a hit—covered in crushed walnuts and served with your favorite crackers, it’ll go great alongside Mulled Grape Cider, an all-ages drink that will make your house smell wonderful. (These holiday-worthy adult beverages might help bring out the artistic skills.)

With kiddos in mind, whip up these Festive Guacamole Appetizers shaped like Christmas trees, and some fun Chocolate-Dipped Phyllo Sticks. Serve them alongside Fluffy Hot Chocolate.

And let’s not forget dessert—keeping with the holiday spirit, these Holiday Cornflake Cookies shaped like little wreaths will put everyone in the merry decorating mood.

Create a Sweet Soundtrack

In order to get in the cookie house decorating mood, one requires the perfect playlist. A mix of classic holiday tunes—Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Run Rudolph Run (name that movie!)—and more updated tunes like Snowman by Sia, and Gwen Stefani’s take on Jingle Bells.

Assemble the Building Materials

To prep for the gingerbread houses, you can make sheets of gingerbread ahead of time and let guests cut them as desired to their preferred shape. (You never know, some may prefer a gable roof whereas others insist on a gambrel.)

Is your house more of a manger? Are your inhabitants wise men and an expectant mom? Then make sure to also grab these nativity scene cookie cutters to add the proper guests outside your house.

Here’s a starter list of supplies:

  • Gingerbread house kits, or pre-baked gingerbread house components or graham crackers, so partiers can build them there
  • Icing “glue”: Mix 4 Tbsp. water with 4¼ cups powdered sugar. Stir in cold water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until the consistency is like glue.
  • Cereal like Frosted Mini Wheats and Golden Grahams
  • Pretzel rods and sticks
  • Shredded coconut
  • Sprinkles
  • Marshmallows
  • Candies like gumdrops and jelly beans
  • Rainbow candy belts
  • Chocolate-covered sunflower seeds
  • Cinnamon chewing gum
  • Licorice whips
  • Meringue cookies
  • Waffle cones
  • Assorted colors of frosting

…and the Landscaping Supplies


Don’t forget, snow families are excellent builders. To decorate your frosting yard with a few of these cuties, stack some extra-large white marshmallows on kebab sticks. Use a frosting pen to add eyes, a mouth and a nose, and either paint on frosting hands or use pretzel sticks to create some arms. Chocolate Santa Hats would top off these guys (or gals) nicely!

Care to get a bit more advanced with your decorating? These candy-coated river stones would make an excellent exterior for your abode. Beyond candy, consider coconut for snow and meringue swirls for snow piles, and wrap cookie sticks in strips of licorice or gum for lamp or fence posts.

Set up Decoration Stations

For easy cleanup, cover your tables with butcher paper. Then use muffin tins and tall glasses to hold a bevy of colorful decorating options—a variety of candies, sprinkles, pretzel rods, cereal and frosting tubes is a good start. Place one grouping of supplies for about every three seats.

Ensure a Safe Sendoff

When your gingerbread land is complete (and plenty of photos have been snapped!), it’s time to say goodbye. Guests will want to take their houses home—extra-tall cake boxes will do the trick. And since nobody will want to eat their creations, send home a gingerbread cookie or two.

Our Best Gingerbread Cookies
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Amanda Kippert
Amanda Kippert has been an award-winning freelance journalist for nearly two decades. She is based in Tucson, Arizona and specializes in food, health, fitness, parenting and humor, as well as social issues. She is the content editor of the domestic violence nonprofit DomesticShelters.org.