willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

DIY Gingerbread Winter Wonderland


What to do when you live in a region of the country where at least one snow storm a season is usually anticipated and enjoyed by many but none has arrived??? Why make your own little bit of winter to sit on your kitchen counter or bedeck your dining room table of course! It is a family tradition of ours to decorate a gingerbread house every Christmas. This started years back when friends used to invite us to their annual decorating party and when they moved away, we continued on our own with some form or another of the gingerbread house.

A few years back, I found that Clays Bakery in Berwyn PA, sells these Gingerbread house kits with everything you need to make your own contained within. Bingo! I became a fast and furious fan of them! Unfortunately, we had so much on our plate this year that we never got around to our tradition. I am not one for waste…ever…so how to repurpose this forlorn unadorned little house after the season?3-1First off, we ate all the candy…  and then I searched my baking cabinet for decorations that I already possessed so that we could make this sweet little house into a Winter Gingerbread house. I am not a great baker, a little too impatient to wait the accorded times for certain recipes and I do my best, but it is the decorating that I love!
2-1I have been looking at the Kitchen Aid stand boxers for probably about ten years now and this is the year that I pulled the plug and asked for one for my Christmas present. Santa obliged and I LOVE it!! No more flipped bowls, standing there for ever as you need to beat something for ten minutes. That has been part of my baking aversion. This handy dandy little kit has the meringue powder in it that you need to make the icing. You just add the powdered sugar and water and beat.

DSC_0474-1Maggie and I started decorating this sweetie before I went in for my surgery the week after we got back from Atlanta. My family and I were fitting in so many things before I went in and the gingerbread house was not on the list of priorities and did not make the cut. Sometimes you really do have to prioritize but I still wanted to show you all how you could readapt a project meant for another season or incorporate this project into a snow day that might come if you have little ones around. I first gathered every white edible object that I had lying around the house. I happened to get a few of them (the white jelly gumdrops and the coconut marshmallows) after Christmas in the clearance aisles and thought of them for this idea.I always stock pile stuff like this if it is a good deal.
DSC_0484-1Another staple I always keep on hand from Christmas on are nonpareils, for they can always be used for a number of edible decorating projects and a coupe with a cup of tea or coffee make for a great afternoon dark chocolate fix!
DSC_0487-1I also keep tubs of decorating baubles on hand that I purchase from a bulk store. They last forever and cost less than $2.00 a piece if you buy them this way.
DSC_0502-1Pretty aren’t they? Anything will work for this one if it is shiny!
DSC_0443-1-2To assemble,  you first spread the roof with the icing that you have mixed. After mixing the icing, I recommend either using it right away or placing wet paper towels over the bowl of icing for this type of icing hardens quickly. I love to use shredded wheat for the roof and then we edged it in mini marshmallows. We also frosted some sugar cones with the icing and added some silver dragees  to the trees to add some shimmer. The nonpareils were used as stepping stones to make the path to the front door after we covered all of the red foil in a coating of icing.
DSC_0511-1-2I wanted to hide the red edges of the circle board the house had been put upon so we set the house upon a large piece of Kraft paper that we set in one of our wooden trays that we always carry in the barn.
DSC_0550-1-2I thought it would be cute to add a little fence made out of small sticks which Maggie collected from the backyard.
DSC_0557-1-2I just layered them and held them together with daubs of the icing. That stuff is like plaster!
DSC_0617-1-2We felt that it needed a few small touches of greens so we added some box wood that we had left over from Christmas decor or you can cut greens from any of your shrubs outside.
DSC_0600-1The fence in place and a little bunch of boxwood on the side of the house, its leaves daubed with a little icing completes the scene.

I added a little more greens to the front door and there you have it!


It really is a very simple project that would be a great time filler with little ones IF we ever get a snow day this season! If not, stock  pile this idea in your mind to purchase a ginger bread house kit this Christmas but hold onto it for the slower days of next winter when one often needs a project to fill the hours when you have small children. Or do what Maggie and I did and use it for therapy! 

Either way you look at it, may you find moments the remainder of this winter season that embody simple pleasures, cuddle up with a good book, a good movie, do things you might not do in other seasons. That is one of the most rewarding parts of living in an area where the seasons change. Your activities, when based on them simulate the ebb and flow of nature and what is going on according to that. Living with the seasons has always been my life and we are excited this year as we begin working on a Seasons at Willowbrook Farm aspect of Life’s Patina. 

Stay tuned for more!

~Meg and Maggie

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