11 Gingerbread House Hacks to Take Things Next-Level

The most amazing gingerbread house is easier to make than you think. Here are 11 pretty amazing (yet easy!) tricks that will help you pull the whole thing off – and give your creation some epic winter wonderland flair.

1) START WITH A SOLID FOUNDATION. A sturdy base is everything. Your secret weapons: a glue gun and tissue box. For reinforcement on the roof you can use some smaller graham cracker pieces. Note: if you want the whole thing to be edible, sub royal icing* for the glue.

2) MAKE CLEAN CUTS. Wondering how to get the graham crackers to break straight every time? Wrap them in a damp paper towel, then pop microwave for 10 seconds. (This trick is especially awesome if you want to create mini-houses for a little gingerbread village.)

3) PUT DECORATIONS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. Serve up all the candy and decorative pieces in muffin tins. Pretty to look at and no fighting over bowls.

4) PAVE A PEPPERMINT PATHWAY. Take some aluminum foil and create the shape you want your pathway to take. Copy that shape with another piece, then place both pieces on another sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Drop candies in rows of 3s all the way down your path and pop it into the oven at 275 for 10 minutes. Let it cool, then voila!

5) FOREST IT UP. What’s a winter wonderland without trees? Take a sugar cone, paint it with warm corn syrup, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Make it snow with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

6) CEREAL YOUR ROOF. Tile Frosted Mini-Wheats over the graham crackers using hot glue. Mix it up by placing some pieces frosting-up and others frosting-down.

7) LET THERE BE LIGHT. Who knew plain jelly cookies make the perfect stained glass windows??

8) FASHION A SWING. Take 5 good-size candy canes, snap the curve off them, and hot glue them together. Untwist a few pieces of licorice (We used Red Vines), throw ’em over the top, and create the swing’s seat by gluing on a piece of sour rope. Perfect perch for a gummy bear.

9) LANDSCAPE WITH PRETZEL RODS. Break some pretzel sticks into small pieces and you’ve got the perfect liner for your peppermint pathway.

10) ADD WADDLING WILDLIFE. A marshmallow and a couple dots (one cut in half) make an adorbs penguin.

11) WARM UP THE PLACE. Create smoke for your chimney by stretching a cotton ball and popping it in.

Now enjoy looking at (and nibbling from) your cozy masterpiece. Happy Holidays!!

*ROYAL ICING: In large bowl of stand mixer combine 3 egg whites and and beat until frothy. Add 3 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar gradually, mixing on low speed until sugar is fully incorporated and icing is shiny. Turn mixer up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to pastry Ziploc bag, cutting off tip when ready to pipe. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to three days.

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Meg is a Co-Founder of What's Up Moms and the mom to three kids (12, 10 and 7). She wishes her kids asked for caramelized brussel sprouts and wild salmon salad every night. But most of the time, you'll find her whipping up a kid-friendly pasta or a sweet treat with a healthy twist. Her motto is: everything in moderation... except coffee. Find her on Instagram @madewithmeg. {{Privy:Embed campaign=591322}}