One of our favorite family traditions during the holidays is to make graham cracker houses.
It’s far simpler to make little houses out of graham crackers than it is to bake gingerbread or to shell out for those expensive gingerbread kits. And the kids love being able to be messy and creative.
Making graham cracker houses isn’t hard, but it does take time to decorate them, so you’ll need a good block of time, some great holiday tunes, and a sense of humor.
How to Make Graham Cracker Houses
Here are a few other supplies you’ll need.
- A strong piece of cardboard for the base.
- Freezer paper to cover the cardboard. (The white freezer paper looks like snow, but you could use aluminum foil and create “ice”)
- A box of graham crackers (Honey Maid even makes Gingerbread crackers during the holidays)
- Candy to decorate the houses. We use leftover Halloween candy. Other good choices include candy canes, licorice, gum drops, Hershey bars, M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls, and candy sprinkles.
- Food coloring. I actually only use green, but you could get creative and mix other colors.
- Sugar cones. These make great little trees when turned upside down. Coat with green food coloring and Add candy sprinkles to look like Christmas lights.
- Assorted food items from your pantry. Look through your pantry and get creative. Chex cereal makes a nice shaker roof. Pretzel twists make cute little fences.
You’ll also need to make some frosting (or what we call “Graham Cracker House Glue.”). Here’s the recipe we use:
- 3 egg whites
- 1 lb of powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Beat these ingredients together to yield about 2-1/2 cups of frosting. We actually doubled this recipe to make three houses (which included several trees and “snow” in the yards).
Note: This white frosting sets up ROCK HARD in a short amount of time… which is good because you want it to hold your graham cracker houses together. Keep this in mind while you’re working, so the frosting doesn’t set up in the bowl. Just lay a wet cloth over the bowl and give the frosting an occasional stir to keep it from hardening before you’re done creating. We usually put a plastic tablecloth on the table to make clean-up a little easier.
We use full sheets of graham crackers for 2 of the walls and the roof. Half-piece squares make up the other wall, and then we cut triangles to connect the walls to the roof. If you have trouble getting things to stay “glued” together until it dries, you can “glue” some little pieces of cardboard supports (cereal boxes work great) on the inside of the house. You can build your house bigger or smaller, as desired.
You can use cake decorating tools to apply the frosting, but honestly, I find a zip-top bag with a small hole cut in the bottom works just as well.
Decorate your little house and yard to your heart’s content. You can add a bit of green food coloring to some of your frosting and dip sugar cones in it to make trees.
We use our little graham cracker houses as table displays through the holidays. Then we place them outside for the birds and squirrels to eat. Last year we watched one sugar-loving squirrel drag an entire house into the woods.
We love this project because you’re only limited by your imagination. There’s just something about building something out of super sweet frosting and sugary treats to put you in a good mood.