I love making a gingerbread house! I have made this one every year since I found a recipe online at simplyrecipes.com. Here is the link. It is the best gingerbread house recipe I have seen. It is thorough and step-by-step and comes with pattern pieces you can print out and then use to cut the walls and roof of your house.
The question I am asked most often about gingerbread houses is: do you eat them? The answer is yes and no. It is made entirely from safe, common, edible ingredients (flour, sugar, butter, etc.) However, some people do not like the idea of eating something which has sat out for a long time. And I would never destroy a gingerbread house before Christmas Day. I personally consider it something to snack on during the twelve days of Christmas. If you wait to eat your house until a couple weeks after it is made it will, indeed, be hard. But I enjoy breaking off a small piece, like the corner of the roof, and dipping it in hot coffee, tea or chocolate. The spices with the drink make for a very Christmasy experience. It also seems like quite a waste of food to make the gingerbread house and then never eat it. So, as long as you enjoy it, it is perfectly fine to eat a gingerbread house, even after it has sat out.
Some helpful tips:
1. Left over dough can be used to make gingerbread men cookies or ornaments for your tree or other pieces for your gingerbread house scene..
2. Roll the dough used for the roof a little thinner than the walls. You will have to attach the roof with royal icing "mortar." The less it weighs, the more easily it will attach.
3. This is such a large batch of dough you can be generous with the spices. I use an extra teaspoon of ginger and cinnamon to make this house especially fragrant.
4. I've used various things over the years to make snow on the ground, including marshmallows, shredded coconut, and royal icing. Here, I piped royal icing.
5. Assemble your house on whatever platform it will rest on. For example, I often use a foil covered cutting board. This will save you from having to move the assembled house to a display board.
6. Be creative. Gingerbread houses are pretty whimsical. You needn't be afraid to try a different design. If you think it might be cute, try it.