Oliver and I made a gingerbread house together! Well, I did most of the house. He decorated Christmas trees for it all by himself, though!
A few years ago, I tried to make a gingerbread house, but it didn't go very well. I wasn't expecting much this time, but I was pleasantly surprised. I used the children's gingerbread house recipe from allrecipes.com. I needed to add more flour than the recipe called for, but it otherwise worked out perfectly. All of the pieces I cut out kept their shape and didn't need to be trimmed. The frosting from that recipe held like glue! The house ended up being really easy. I used a template from Martha Stewart's website, which is also where I got the idea of using cinnamon sticks as a bundle of logs.
I wanted to add "stained glass" windows to our gingerbread house. Apparently, there are two ways to do it, one is before you bake your cookie pieces, and one method can be done after baking. To make stained glass windows before baking, you first put your cookie pieces on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Break some Lifesaver candies, and put the broken pieces where the windows are cut out. As the cookies bake, the candy melts. When you pull them out of the oven, the hot candy should cool and solidify to form the "glass." I would have done that method if I'd read about it before I baked my cookie pieces. So, I did the window method for after baking. I used a Pyrex liquid measuring cup (since it can take high heat), and I melted some yellow and orange Lifesavers together in the microwave. It actually didn't take that long to melt them. I think I zapped them in 15-second intervals, and it took just 2 or 3 cycles to melt the candy. Be careful if you do this method because melted candy is very hot and sticky. Once mine was melted, I poured it into the window holes of my pieces, on top of parchment paper. Once it cooled, it looked like stained glass. I piped frosting for shingles on the roof as well as for trim on the windows and doors.
I gave Oliver some ice cream cones to decorate like Christmas trees. He squeezed and spread green frosting on the "trees," and then he shook some sprinkles on top. He had a ton of fun with the first one! He was bored with the project by the second tree. Oh, well!
I pieced the gingerbread house together as Oliver decorated the trees. The frosting held like glue! I did the four walls first and let them dry completely before putting the roof on. I placed some flickering LED candles inside the house before putting the roof on, too, so it is lit up from inside!